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Chicago Teens Celebrate After School Matters’ 25th Anniversary

10/4/2016, midnight | Updated on 10/4/2016, midnight
1,000 civic, corporate and community leaders attended the After School Matters® Annual Gala on Monday, September 19 at Chicago’s historic ...
Chicago teen Maurice R. plays a guitar solo during the After School Matters Annual Gala teen performances at Navy Pier on September 19, 2016. Photo credit: John Martin-Eatinger

Chicago Teens Celebrate After School Matters’ 25th Anniversary

1,000 civic, corporate and community leaders attended the After School Matters® Annual Gala on Monday, September 19 at Chicago’s historic Navy Pier to celebrate 25 years of successfully providing after-school and summer programs to Chicago teenagers. Over the past 25 years, more than 200,000 teens have participated in the nonprofit organization’s hands-on, project-based after-school and summer programs in the arts, communications, science, sports and technology.

This year alone, After School Matters provided 23,000 opportunities for Chicago teenagers to participate in the organization’s programs, which provide youth with an opportunity to explore and develop their talents while gaining critical skills for work, college and beyond.

The Annual Gala, held in Navy Pier’s Lakeview Terrace and Aon Grand Ballroom, was presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and hosted by the After School Matters Board of Directors. Gala Co-Chairs included Mellody Hobson and George Lucas, Denise and Matt Gibson, D’Rita and Robbie Robinson, and Dona and Sam Scott. Honorary Chairs included Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ms. Amy Rule, and The Honorable Richard M. Daley.

“Our responsibility to the youth of Chicago does not end when the school bell rings at the end of the day or the end of the year. After School Matters plays an essential role in keeping students safe and engaged while they are out of school, while giving them opportunities to discover their full potential,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I want to thank the staff, instructors and supporters of After School Matters for providing thousands of Chicago’s young people across Chicago with the opportunities they need to prepare for the successful futures they deserve.”

One of the Gala’s highlights featured teens from multiple After School Matters dance, music and vocal arts programs performing a medley of Prince songs. 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, multi-media digital arts, print-making and jewelry making, as well as interactive displays showcasing skills in sustainable energy technology and urban agriculture. All visual art pieces displayed at the event were available for purchase, and any not purchased will now be on sale at the After School Matters Gift Shop, located at 66 E. Randolph. All proceeds support After School Matters programming.

“While we look back in amazement at how we have grown, we also look forward with determination to a future in which we have completely realized our founder Maggie Daley’s vision – a city where all teens have the opportunities they deserve,” said Mellody Hobson, board chair of After School Matters. “In fact, we received nearly 45,000 teen applications for programs last year, but only had capacity to provide 23,000 opportunities. The support we received tonight will help After School Matters continue to close this opportunity gap.”

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.