Celebrating Black Voices: After School Matters Alumni Spotlights

Black History Month serves as a dedicated time to honor and celebrate Black voices’ profound impact on shaping our city and the world.

In commemoration of this month, After School Matters is sharing stories from Black alumni who have become leaders in their fields. They inspire current ASM teens to pursue their dreams and become artists, entrepreneurs, and changemakers in their communities, creating a brighter future for younger generations to come.

Read more about our talented alumni making an impact on their industries.

Dr. Clinton Boyd, Jr. became a teenage father in 2005. Unsure of how he would provide for his new family, he joined ASM’s Sports Instruction program where he learned new skills he could apply to college and used the stipend to support his daughter.

Using his earnings from ASM, Dr. Boyd purchased baby clothes, diapers, transported his daughter’s mother to and from her WIC appointments, and supported his parents in covering household costs.

“My ASM program provided a safe, nurturing space that affirmed me as a young man, enhanced my college and career readiness skills, and allowed me to connect with peers who have become lifelong friends.”

Dr. Boyd earned his Ph.D. and is now a researcher at the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall. He uses his experience as a young Black father and his education to ensure other fathers of color have the resources they need to be successful parents.

Cescily Phillips participated in ASM programs in the early 2000s. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Inspired Aesthetics, an organization she modeled off of her experience in ASM. The nonprofit supports young people in Kansas City, MO through arts education, training, and mentoring.

“After School Matters was one of many experiences in Chicago that showed me what was possible, regardless of my socioeconomic status. I have dedicated my life to providing similar opportunities and experiences to other young people. They helped give me a vision to give back.”

Oscar Brown III grew his passion for music in his ASM program with the Chicago West Community Music Center program. He earned a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music, going on to become a professional musician and music producer touring the world.

“My ASM program provided me with life skills one needed both as a musician and as a person. From everyday skills such as introducing yourself and speaking publicly to professional skills such as leading a band. I was given ample opportunity to develop into a competent and confident professional.”

Serena Echols, a Spelman College graduate, is making waves in the world of climate action and was interviewed by Authority Magazine as a young change-maker. Her inspiring journey to sustainability started in the ASM Gardeneers program, inspiring her work with the HBCU Green Fund. The Fund provides opportunities for students at historically Black colleges to learn, engage, and invest in communities through environmental justice and sustainability.

“I absolutely loved this program and even had the opportunity to attend a trip to rural Illinois to experience a real farm. This was the first time I encountered a fully sustainable way of life without going to a grocery store for food. After that summer I inspired my dad to create a garden in our backyard …Still to this day my parents replant their garden every summer, and it gets bigger every year!”

Serena is pursuing a master’s in Applied Anthropology and Public Health at the University of South Florida in Tampa and recently released a book she co-wrote titled “MSITU: The Old-Growth Forest,” a children’s science and nature book about a magical forest and how important environmental stewardship is.

We couldn’t be more proud of these former ASM teens and all they’ve accomplished. We are gratified to have played a part in helping them find their passions.