After School Matters Celebrates Chicago Teens, Demonstrates Impact at Annual Gala
Monday, November 24, 2014

Nearly 300 Chicago teenagers who participated in After School Matters programs this summer celebrated their accomplishments by showcasing their work at the After School Matters Annual Gala on Tuesday evening. The event, which was attended by approximately 1,000 civic, corporate and community supporters, included a variety of teen performances as well as teen visual art, science and technology displays.

The Annual Gala, held in the Lakeview Terrace and Grand Ballroom of Chicago’s historic Navy Pier, was presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and hosted by Mellody Hobson—Chair of After School Matters and President of Ariel Investments—Nora Daley, E. Robbie Robinson and the After School Matters Board of Directors. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule once again served as the Gala’s Honorary Chairs.

“It is critical that the City of Chicago and its partners provide our youth with safe, productive and enriching learning opportunities beyond the classroom to support their overall educational experience,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Our tremendous partnership with After School Matters gives thousands of teenagers across Chicago programs and opportunities in a variety of fields, ensuring they are on the path to a successful future.”

For more than two decades, After School Matters has offered Chicago high school teens high quality out-of-school time opportunities in the arts, communications, science, sports and technology that allow them to explore and develop their talents, while gaining critical skills for work, college and beyond.

“This past year has been incredibly impactful for After School Matters as we served more teens than ever before, including a record 8,000 Chicago teens this summer alone,” said Mellody Hobson. “The support we received tonight will help us give every teen the opportunity to succeed and fulfill their dreams.”

The reception featured teens engaging guests through visual arts displays including drawing, painting, mixed media and skateboard design, metal works, photography, multi-media digital arts, glassworks, print-making and jewelry-making, as well as interactive displays showcasing their skills in engineering, robotics and urban agriculture. The evening’s program included song and dance performances by teens from across the city in a variety of After School Matters programs, including ”Oklahoma!” from the musical Oklahoma! as well as a unique version of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” which concluded the evening. All visual art pieces displayed at the event were available for purchase, and any not purchased at the event will now be for sale at the After School Matters Retail Store, located at 66 E. Randolph. All proceeds directly support After School Matters programming.

After School Matters Citywide Showcase
Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Last month, nearly 500 Chicago teens proudly displayed their skills and talents at the After School Matters Citywide Showcase, held at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

Teens from programs across the city demonstrated skills developed during the past year in an extraordinary presentation of performing and visual arts, science and technology. The evening’s performances highlighted the wide variety of programming that After School Matters offers, including performances from Hi Def Dance Ensemble, Chicago Opera Theater for Teens, Queen Nzinga’s Brigade and a martial arts performance by the Leadership Apprenticeship Mentoring Program, to name just a few.

A Teen Gallery displayed throughout the theater lobby featured a variety of one-of-a-kind, teen-created artwork, jewelry, clothing, photography and more, all of which was available for purchase onsite with proceeds supporting After School Matters teen programs. The Teens-in-Action exhibition showcased hands-on, interactive displays from After School Matters aviation, forensics, science and urban gardening programs.

“The Citywide Showcase is evidence of the passion and determination of Chicago’s teens,” said Mary Ellen Caron, After School Matters Chief Executive Officer. “They never cease to amaze me with their conviction and hard work. What they accomplished tonight should make Chicago proud.”

Teens Participate in Google's High School Symposium
Friday, March 21, 2014


Recently, four After School Matters teens from various programs took a trip to Google’s downtown Chicago office for the company’s High School Symposium event. The full-day enrichment program, designed specifically for high school seniors, provided our teens with valuable information as they transition into their college years. Sessions included guidance and helpful tips around professional development, building and leveraging networks and understanding how to manage personal brands.

“I found today to be exciting and really fun. It was experience I will never forget as I learned a lot about personal branding and positive psychology. I never thought about the difficulty of trying to ‘sell’ myself for jobs and colleges until today,” said Mindy, one of the participating After School Matters teens.

Throughout the day, Google employees led the group through a series of breakout sessions that encouraged teens to discover the personal qualities—such as values, strengths, skills and passions—that they will continue to develop as they begin their college experiences and professional lives.  To top off the extraordinary day, our teens got an inside look at Google’s offices on a fun-filled tour…all in all, an experience they’ll never forget!

Teens Kick-Off 2014 with Winter Intensive
Monday, January 6, 2014

At the start of the year, 210 After School Matters teens kicked off by participating in a four-day Winter Intensive program session held January 2-5 at Roosevelt University.

The Winter Intensive provided safe and engaging opportunities for teens during their winter break. Industry professionals taught workshops and master classes for our teens in Photography, Hip Hop Dance, Visual Arts, Music Composition, Business and Marketing, and Poetry Writing and Spoken Word.

Additionally, parents and teens were invited to participate in a post-secondary financial aid workshop that provided them with valuable information and resources from financial aid experts. Parents and teens received tips on how to fill out the FAFSA, apply for scholarships and effectively manage finances using a “college budget builder” tool.

Through these master classes and workshops, teens developed their talents in a professional setting and gained career and college readiness skills, such as creating a professional portfolio, that they can use in future college and job interviews.