Urban Schools Initiative
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The Science Olympiad Urban Schools Initiative supports the participation of students from disadvantaged backgrounds in Science Olympiad. The program was founded in 2007 in Chicago Public Schools, and has now expanded to many other cities such as Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, Birmingham, Lowcountry, Gary, Los Angeles, Rockford, etc. There is also a rural Islands initiative in Hawai'i.
In 2014, the first Southeast Urban Pennsylvania Tournament was run. This tournament now functions as an invitational tournament - teams cannot qualify for states through this "regional" because not all of the events are run and there is not enough funding. Teams that qualify for the urban initiative may choose whether to participate in the Urban Tournament or the Southeast Pennsylvania Regional North tournament. The number of Philadelphia teams competing in SEPA regionals increases each year, showing the success of the initiative.
Urban teams may also participate in the annual "Build it/Study it/Learn it" days at St. Joseph's University, where students from nearby schools (Bala Cynwyd Middle School and Harriton High School) teach participants about some of the events.
The Urban Initiative in Maryland has taken the form of the Baltimore City Regional, which has been held annually since 2010. Currently, the regional serves over 20 B Division teams, and acts as a full regional where teams may qualify to the state tournament. The initiative also supports C Division teams in Baltimore that compete in the Eastern Maryland Regional, and in 2020, 9 teams from the city of Baltimore competed.