Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

IMSA's STEM Program and PROMISE Initiative attract talented students from diverse backgrounds to solve global challenges


According to the United Nations, a significant portion of crops, equivalent to 56 million tons, are lost globally between harvest and retail, resulting in the wastage of energy, fresh water, and land resources. However, a high school junior from Aurora, Illinois, may have a solution to address this problem.
Nitya Jakka developed an innovative solution through her company, Terraclu, which uses sensors to track the output of ethylene gas released during the ripening of crops. By comparing this data with baseline ethylene measurements taken over a crop's lifespan, companies can predict the rate of crop ripening and adjust temperature and humidity levels during transportation and storage to slow down maturation. This process ensures that more produce makes it to grocery store shelves, and it is not wasted during the farm-to-table journey.
Nitya Jakka developed this idea during her Grade 11 year at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA). IMSA is a highly acclaimed public high school in the state, focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) subjects with an enrollment of approximately 650 students in Grades 10 through 12.
“(Jakka’s) story gives you an idea of how IMSA students are already changing the world and how it all starts by focusing on science and math,” said Cesar Patino. 
In order to enhance its educational offerings, the academy has developed the PROMISE program (Providing Opportunities for Mathematics and Science Enrichment). This program is held during spring break, weekends, and in the summer, and is open to students in Grades 7, 8, and 9 from culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse backgrounds. It provides students with a chance to experience STEM enrichment the IMSA way, with little or no cost.
PROMISE acts as a feeder program to attract talented students to the boarding school. In 2023, nearly one in four PROMISE students was enrolled in IMSA, demonstrating its effectiveness.
To assist PROMISE in achieving its objective of developing the potential of underprivileged and BIPOC youth, Enbridge has awarded IMSA two Fueling Futures grants worth $5,000 each since 2021. Enbridge believes in the importance of a diverse, respectful, and inclusive workforce and recognizes the significance of helping diverse students advance their education in the STEM field. As Patino notes, diverse backgrounds bring diverse ideas.
“Some of the world’s big problems can be solved by developing the future of these kids, who bring different perspectives, different ideas, into the classroom,” explained Patino. “They’re in that stage of life where anything is possible.”
IMSA has integrated the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its academic programs. These goals serve as a reminder to students that the world is currently facing numerous challenges, such as climate change, world hunger, international conflicts, energy crises, sustainability issues, and racial injustices.
IMSA students are committed to finding solutions to these complex issues.
“Our future as a species is going to depend on encouraging these highly competent, scientifically and creative-minded kids,” said Patino .

“There's so much they can achieve. By developing and nurturing them in the fields of science and math, they’ll reach that goal of really changing the world.”