University of Illinois Doctoral Candidate Natalie Coleman Transforming K-12 Online Education in Illinois
March 18, 2021
Illinois-Already an alumni of the University of Illinois (Undergraduate 2002), Natalie Coleman is set to graduate with her doctorate in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership in May 2021. After defending her dissertation, Identifying Structural Changes Made by District Leadership to Increase Equity in STEM for Black Girls, she is ready to put her research into action and continue to make an impact in her community, across Illinois and the world through her company After the Peanut. Natalie founded After the Peanut in 2014 and for the last seven years she has made great strides to grow the company. The company was founded on the core idea of providing STEM educational opportunities for students in underserved communities. The company has grown to provide that and much more! Natalie stated “My goal was to touch the lives of local students but my company has been fortunate and has grown to reach more students than I originally expected and I could not be more excited.”
The pivot came when schools shut down in March 2020 because of COVID19. While the pandemic created huge barriers to overcome for many students and those specifically in lower socio-economic areas, After the Peanut was working on solutions. Their solution to help close the growing gap in education was one-one-one online tutoring. This led to a partnership with Aetna Better Health of Illinois to provide tutoring for K-12 students across Illinois. During this time, a partnership with Meridian Health also provided an opportunity to create Coding Hubs throughout Will County where students in 5th-8th grade could learn about computer programming and computer literacy at no cost to the student. Another innovative idea for After the Peanut will be their 10-week Summer STEAM Camp hosted by Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. This camp is designed to keep students engaged and active through innovative weekly themes and is open to 3rd-12th grade students. Due to the success of After the Peanut's previous initiatives, their current programs have garnered support from across the state of Illinois.
As 2nd Vice President of the National Association of Counties (NACO) and Legislative Chair for the Will County Board , Denise Winfrey stated “I am pleased to know that Aetna and After the Peanut are working together to support students across the state during these unprecedented times.” Natalie says “I’ve worked all over Will County, Illinois and a few places in Chicago and the south suburbs. I see the needs across rural and urban areas and believe regardless of the location, there are students who are in need of additional education opportunities, more so now than ever.” After the Peanut goals aim high with the ultimate goal of always being at the forefront of innovative educational solutions that reach all students, especially those in communities that have an underrepresentation in STEM careers.
To learn more about the company and the programs they offer visit afterthepeant.com
Inspired by George Washington Carver, After the Peanut was founded in 2014 and opened its STEM Center in 2018. The company focuses on the power of knowledge and education in the face of adversity and challenges. Their goal is to transform communities by increasing educational opportunities for underrepresented groups in STEM. You can follow After the Peanut on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @afterthepeanut.