Erica's Journey: From Chicago to the White House

Erica’s Journey: From Chicago to the White House

Erica S., After School Matters teen and 17-year-old Art in Motion High School senior, has been making waves as a youth leader. Recently, Erica was selected by Every Hour Counts to attend the Cultivating Possibilities: White House Youth Policy Summit 2024 in Washington, D.C.  

Among nearly 90 young participants from across the country, Erica contributed her voice to discussions on the state of the country. Throughout the day-long Youth Summit at the U.S. Department of Education, she engaged in breakout sessions and panel discussions, focusing on youth-led solutions for mental health issues and education. Erica also toured the White House and heard from notable speakers like First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel A. Cardona, Ed.D.  

“I was excited to visit D.C. and share my thoughts on how we can create better mental health and education policies for young people,” shared Erica S. “I was a little nervous because this was my first time leaving home and traveling on a plane but it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I’m thankful for ASM and Every Hour Counts for creating opportunities like these for teens.” 

Erica’s participation in ASM programs has connected her to opportunities like the Youth Summit, strengthening her leadership skills and empowering her to share her voice to impact her community and peers positively. In the fall of 2022, she shared her perspectives at the Every Hour Counts Youth Summit in Chicago, and later that year, Erica participated in a discussion of youth mental health issues with the U.S. Surgeon General as he visited our Gately Park facility. 

“The Washington D.C. trip was amazing! I met a lot of great people and the vibes and experiences were wonderful. I can’t wait to see everyone again!” shared Erica S.  

For Erica, this opportunity was more than just a trip—it was a chance to amplify her advocacy on a national stage. From her high school in Chicago to the halls of the White House, Erica’s journey exemplifies the power of youth leadership. As she continues to use her voice to advocate for other young people, her impact extends far beyond her city. She’s inspiring others to cultivate life-changing opportunities for youth nationwide for generations to come.