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Northwestern Joins Partners to Launch New Youth Center

McGaw YMCA’s MetaMedia center will feature innovative Northwestern program

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A Northwestern University program that helps cultivate young people’s skills in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts/design and math) will be incorporated into a new YMCA youth center for middle school students in Evanston.

With a $1 million gift from the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation, the McGaw YMCA will build the MetaMedia Youth Center to provide area youth with advanced technology, music and video production, creative design and other learning opportunities.

The center is a collaboration among the McGaw YMCA, Youth Organizations Umbrella (Y.O.U.) and Northwestern.

Faculty and staff in Northwestern's School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) have been working closely with these partners to envision an innovative new space for Evanston youth, according to Kemi Jona, director of the Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) and research professor at Northwestern.

\"The team has been meeting for nearly a year to develop the conceptual framework, work with architects and designers, and create programming inspired by children's interests,\" Jona said.

One of the core features of the MetaMedia center will be the FUSE program, which is designed to provide an “on ramp” for traditionally disengaged youth into STEAM and general academic success. FUSE was developed by Jona and fellow SESP Professor Reed Stevens and currently is being used at 30 schools and libraries, reaching nearly 3,000 children across the Chicago area.

In addition to implementing FUSE at the McGaw YMCA, MetaMedia, a FUSE team member will help to coordinate opportunities for kids to work with Northwestern student mentors.

“MetaMedia will be the first of its kind in Evanston,\" Stevens said. \"It will be a transformative learning space informed by research at Northwestern on youth learning, motivation and engagement.”

Northwestern's involvement in MetaMedia reflects the University's longstanding support of the McGaw YMCA.

This partnership is one of several \"Good Neighbor Great University\" initiatives supported by OSEP, including \"Kits 'n’ Cats@NU\" college awareness days, the Northwestern/Evanston Township High School Partnership Office, tutor/mentor programs, and hands-on research lab experiences.

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