November 18, 2014 – The Oak Park Education Foundation (OPEF) is reaching out to the broader Oak Park community to solicit ideas for its next big program. Students, parents/guardians, teachers and community members are invited to submit their ideas via a brief survey posted on the non-profit organization’s website (

OPEF currently has five free, curriculum-enriching programs that connect students from District 97’s 10 schools with experts from a variety of fields (engineering, architecture, art, science). These well-established, hands-on programs include VEX Robotics, Science Alliance, Geared Up, Architecture Adventure and Art Start. OPEF also runs the fee-based BASE Camp during school holidays and over the summer that provides children with the opportunity to “build stuff, build friendships and build connections.”

“The Oak Park Education Foundation’s dynamic programs have had a profound and lasting impact on our students,” said Dr. Al Roberts, who is the superintendent for District 97. “I strongly encourage community members to participate in this important process and help OPEF identify the next great program that will contribute to the success of our children both in and out of the classroom.”

The last time OPEF solicited input from the community was spring 2008. A committee of community members, teachers, administrators and experts reviewed the more than 40 ideas that were submitted. From there, the group scored them against a matrix of attributes, debated pros and cons, interviewed people who had the most promising suggestions, and ultimately developed what is now Geared Up, which began as a pilot program later that year.

“We approach the Call for Ideas with our minds wide open to possibility, and are confident it will produce an innovative concept to help District 97 kids learn and grow,” says OPEF executive director Deb Abrahamson. “We know that the next big idea may not look like our previous big ideas – and that’s exciting!”

The deadline for submitting ideas is Friday, January 9, 2015. An OPEF sub-committee will review all of the responses that are received and help the organization identify the ones it will explore in greater detail.

The Oak Park Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) that brings artists, architects, scientists, and technology experts in K-8th grade classrooms at every District 97 School. Our professional partners share their passion for learning while conducting hands-on projects with more than 3,500 students each year. The Oak Park Education Foundation is a privately funded, non-profit organization.

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