After School Matters Annual Gala Celebrates Chicago’s Teens
October 3, 2019
CHICAGO – Nearly 800 civic, corporate and community leaders attended the After School Matters Annual Gala, themed “Building the Future,” on Tuesday, September 24 at the Wintrust Arena to celebrate an exceptional year of providing after-school and summer programs for Chicago teenagers. This year, After School Matters engaged nearly 19,000 Chicago teens through the organization’s programs, which encourage youth to explore and develop their talents while gaining critical skills for work, college and beyond.
“For nearly 30 years, After School Matters has been advocating on behalf of Chicago’s teens, recognizing the value in investing in youth development through quality, hands-on programming,” said Illinois Governor JB Pritzker. “MK and I are proud to be long-time supporters of After School Matters, and year after year are impressed by the work done by this organization to improve the lives—and futures—of teens across Chicago.”
“Our responsibilities to our young people don’t end at the end of the day or the end of the year, they go all year around,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “I commend everyone involved with After School Matters for making these programs a reality for teens across our city. From After School Matters, to Safe Passage, Safe Haven, One Summer Chicago, and many more, the City of Chicago is working with partners citywide to help build a bright future for our youth in every neighborhood and community.”
The Annual Gala was presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and hosted by the After School Matters Board of Directors. Honorary Co-Chairs included Governor JB Pritzker and First Lady MK Pritzker, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and First Lady Amy Eshleman and The Honorable Richard M. Daley. In honor of the Annual Gala, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois headquarters skyscraper on Randolph Street was lit up to display “AFTER SCHOOL MATTERS” during the event in a show of support for the organization and its mission.
“After School Matters is building a bright future for Chicago and its neighborhoods by supporting local teens—those currently in our programs, and those we hope to reach in the future,” said Mellody Hobson, board chair of After School Matters. “By leveraging resources and building strong partnerships, we have expanded our reach across Chicago’s neighborhoods with a wide array of high-quality opportunities at more than 400 community sites and two teen-dedicated spaces at Gallery37 and The Michael and Karyn Lutz Center. With the support we receive tonight, we are continuing to diversify our offerings to Chicago teens, including an additional teen-focused facility on the south side at Gately Park slated to open in 2020.”
The evening’s performances, centered on the theme of “Building the Future,” highlighted different vocal and dance performances by teens in multiple After School Matters programs citywide. During the reception, a gallery showcased the work of teens that participated in After School Matters programs this summer through hands-on exhibits and displays in music, drawing, painting, glassworks, photography, multimedia digital arts, printmaking and jewelry-making, as well as interactive displays showcasing skills in sustainable energy technology, urban agriculture and sports instruction. All visual art pieces displayed at the event were available for purchase; unsold pieces and additional teen artwork is available for purchase at the After School Matters Gift Shop, located at 66 E. Randolph. All proceeds support After School Matters programming.
“It has been an incredible year of providing additional opportunities to Chicago’s youth. Those here tonight represent the nearly 19,000 teens After School Matters engaged this past year,” said Mary Ellen Caron, chief executive officer of After School Matters. “These young people are the next leaders – entrepreneurs, changemakers, artists, activists, chefs, engineers, coaches and more. With the support of After School Matters’ devoted community, we will realize our vision of building a stronger Chicago. As we have demonstrated throughout our history, when we invest in our young people, they reinvest in their communities.”
Individuals, corporations and foundations interested in learning more about After School Matters and the opportunities for support or volunteering can visit afterschoolmatters.org. Applications for After School Matters fall program session are now open. Teens can visit the website to apply.
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ABOUT AFTER SCHOOL MATTERS:
After School Matters provides Chicago high school teens with high quality, after-school and summer opportunities to explore and develop their talents while gaining critical skills for work, college and beyond. Since 1991, After School Matters has offered teens more than 350,000 opportunities in our hands-on, project-based after-school and summer programs in the arts, communications and leadership, STEM and sports. Programs take place at locations throughout the city including Chicago public high schools, Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Library locations, community organizations, downtown at the Gallery 37 Center for the Arts and in Belmont Cragin at our new Michael and Karyn Lutz Center for After School Matters. For more information, visit www.afterschoolmatters.org.
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