Little Village Academy School wins surprise $60K grant for new laptops, technology

Evelyn Holmes Image
Thursday, April 27, 2023
SW Side school wins surprise $60K grant for new laptops, technology
CPS school Little Village Academy won a surprise $60,000 grant for new laptops and a coding or 3D printing package.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A surprise on Thursday had people cheering at schools in Chicago.

Students and their teachers were rewarded for their hard work in the classroom with grants worth tens of thousands of dollars.

It was an unexpected surprise for teacher Kyle Nowicki and his students At Little Village Academy School when the veteran educator and his technology class were named grand prize winners of the first-ever $60,000 award from the CIA's Mission Possible Operation Advance Technology Competition.

The effort's purpose is to help improve science, technology, engineering, art and math, or STEAM education, in public schools.

"We have two older printers for hundreds of students, and, sometimes, they have to wait literally weeks, if not months, to print a small keychain," Nowick said.

The Southwest Side grade school will get a classroom set of laptops and a coding or 3D-printing package of their choosing. The Chicago public school started its design lab after establishing its International Baccalaureate Program four years ago.

"A lot of our students currently aren't even exposed, or, prior to our design lab, are not exposed, to the possibilities that are out there for them," said Little Village Academy Principal Lillian Lazu.

The good news was delivered by STEAM education advocate the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, which also handed out a $30,000 award in another competition to a North Side school on Thursday.

"We're excited to get to spend the day in Chicago, doing some fun and helping some teachers," said Michael Holtz with the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education.

The same awards were given out in five different regions of the country. The competition was open to K-8 students.

Students submitted a video after Nowicki found out about the contest on the internet.

Some students never thought they'd actually win.

"I am really proud of ourselves and our teachers," said Cassandra Tabia, a Little Village Academy 7th grader.

The school won the Midwest Region prize.

"It was crazy," said Sebastian Valbivia, another 7th grader.

Now, the technology expected to arrive over the summer in time for the next school year.

"This is what I want for the students, and the fact that we get to share this as a school is just incredible," Nowick said.