Aurora East Educational Foundation


Benavides STEAM Academy / $550,000

131 is realigning its curriculum and programs to be more focused on science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). With a $550,000 grant award from the Dunham Fund, the vision will become a reality beginning with the 2017-18 school year. The “Learners Today, Leaders Tomorrow” initiative will focus on kindergarten and first-grade students and be headquartered at the Benavides Kindergarten Center on East Indian Trail in Aurora. Two adjoining buildings will be utilized as well for District 131.

The Academy anticipates it will educate 475 students in 2017-18 with the potential of adding 800 preschool students in 2018 that would result in over 1,200 students enrolled in a STEAM-based curriculum.

Aurora East High School / $2,500

Survivor Literature is a class at East Aurora High School in which students’ study literature detailing real-life struggles for survival, then create a service project based on the topic. Students chose “A Stolen Life” in which author Jaycee Dugard writes of her abduction as an 11-year old and her subsequent 18 years in captivity. The Dunham Fund supports the literature class’s effort to raise awareness about overcoming life struggles and survival.

Over 170 students staged a lock-in for 18 hours to raise money and awareness while also sharing Dugard’s story of sacrifice, with the proceeds going to Dugard, who ultimately visited East Aurora to host a presentation and share her story – and life lessons – with students and community members.