Bronzeville high school teacher creates marathon to raise money to make STEM dept. at school

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Bronzeville high school teacher has started his own marathon to raise money for a STEM department at his school. He wants to reach $250,000 to make it happen.

"I've been training so hard for this. You have to finish what you start," said Michael Mancini, English and Special Education teacher at Wendell Phillips Academy High School.

Four times a week, Mancini trains for a marathon. But it's not the Boston or Chicago races. He's training for his own marathon, which he started in order to raise the money to create a STEM department at his school.

"If you look at the statistical average, 14% of people of color make up jobs in the STEM field, 7% being LatinX and 7% being African American," Mancini said. "Clearly people of color are underrepresented in the STEM field. Our kids need these opportunities, this access into that education that they don't have currently."

So far, the high school teacher has raised about $26,000 from individual donations. In October, Mancini created a GoFundMe account with a goal of $250,000.

Mancini intends to put the money towards starting the STEM department and employ one or two teachers for two years.

If he falls short of that goal, Mancini said the money raised would go to new equipment for existing science classes.

"We say we are not just a school, we are a movement here at Phillips and I think what he is doing is absolutely in example of that motto living out," said Matthew Sullivan, Wendell Phillips Academy High School principal.

Mancini will be running a little more than the usual 26.2 miles in a marathon. According to his calculations, he will be running 26.5 miles in and around the Bronzeville community. He will start and end at the high school.

"A lot of times a teacher can be even more impactful just through by providing belief, by providing that encouragement that need, that shoulder," he said.

Mancini has brought many in the community into his fundraising. He said they're the reason he keeps pushing toward that finish line.

He will run his Bronzeville marathon on May 15.
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