CHICAGO — A unique partnership is bringing programming to elementary students in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood.

Students at Benjamin Mays Elementary School are building structures out of spaghetti noodles and marshmallows.

It’s part of an initiative to inspire them to pursue careers in STEM.

“From grade school through high school, I’ve always loved math and science so it became easy for me,” Rashod Johnson, president and CEO of Ardmore Roderick, said.

Johnson grew up on the South Side of Chicago. Now he’s the president and CEO of Ardmore Roderick, one the largest Black-owned infrastructure engineering firms in the county.

He wants to create a pipeline of future engineers and said it has to start at an early age.

“We’re trying to develop this love early on so we had this idea we wanted to do it at the grade school level,” Johnson said.

Ardmore Roderick partnered with the Englewood school through the CPS Children First Fund, bringing STEM-focused programming to students every month.

“We want to make sure everyone gets an opportunity and it’s not a daunting task for them,” Tanyelle Hannah, the principal at Mays Elementary Academy, said.

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Hannah said her students see themselves in Johnson and that can open up a world of possibilities.

“I want to show them you can be you and still be at the top of your game in this country,” Johnson said.