The Adler STEM SMARTS Scholars

Apply by 5/13/2013 for this four-year scholarship program!

What Is the STEM SMARTS Scholars Program?

The Adler Planetarium's STEM SMARTS (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Support, Mentoring And Resources for Talented Students) Scholarship program was established in the spirit of the Adler's mission to inspire the exploration and understanding of our universe and the goal of enabling audiences to participate more effectively in the 21st-century STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) workplace.

The goal of the STEM SMARTS Scholarship program is to help reduce financial barriers to college for low-income, STEM-positive, STEM-achieving students and boost their professional contacts and knowledge in STEM careers during college.

Program Overview:

  • A small group of college-bound students will be selected to receive a scholarship award of $5,000 per year for up to four years.
  • All program participants will be matched with a professional mentor in a STEM field.
  • All program participants must engage in active conversations and relationship-building activities with their fellow scholars, their mentors and Adler staff.

Who Can Apply?

Eligible applicants must:

  • be Chicago high school seniors on track to graduate in 2013;
  • be accepted to and plan to attend an accredited, four-year college/university in the fall in pursuit of a bachelor's degree;
  • have demonstrated interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) through participation in out-of-school STEM activities such as after-school clubs, volunteering or internship at a STEM institution, independent extracurricular research, earning badges in STEM youth programs, and/or similar activities;
  • have demonstrated academic achievement by grade point average in STEM classes and overall GPA;
  • and have demonstrated financial need greater than or equal to the annual grant amount of $5,000.

Preference will be given to students recruited from the Adler’s youth community.

What Are the Program Requirements?

The selected STEM SMARTS Scholars will:

  • attend 1-3 annual STEM Scholars events organized by the Adler;
  • take college classes in STEM-related subjects for a STEM-related major/minor credit (if you have questions about what constitutes a STEM-related subject, please contact us);
  • engage in an online community of peers, Adler staff and STEM mentors regularly (twice monthly), as per program expectations;
  • submit term-end transcripts to the Adler;
  • provide progress reports to the Adler by way of surveys, personal reflections and others as assigned;
  • represent the Adler and the program to others if asked to.

How Do I Apply?

A complete application is comprised of the completion and submission of:

  • an online pre-application form
  • a current, official high school transcript (due by 5/20)
  • a copy/scan of your letter of acceptance to your chosen college/university
  • a copy/scan the first page of your family's FAFSA report (SAR)
  • your resume
  • a 500- to 750-word essay in response to the following prompt:

    Why are you applying to a STEM scholarship? What has been your relationship to STEM in your life so far, and are there any specific areas you have demonstrated passion for? How do you see that relationship evolving over the course of your life?

  • two letters of recommendation
    These letters should come from adults who you have worked with and who ARE NOT related to you -- teachers, coaches, religious leaders, employers, mentors, etc. These letters should be emailed to by your recommender with the subject line "Letter of Recommendation for [Student's Name]" and should include the recommender's name, job title, employer and nature and duration of their relationship to you.

All components except for the online form should be (scanned and) submitted in an email to with the subject line "STEM SMARTS Scholars Application" by 11:59 p.m. Monday, May 13, 2013.

You may also submit paper copies of your transcript, FAFSA, etc, by mail to Rebecca Thornton, Adler Planetarium, 1300 Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL, 60605.

Need help? Email with questions or concerns!