After School Matters Annual Gala Highlights Chicago’s Teens

10/10/2018, noon | Updated on 10/10/2018, noon

After School Matters Annual Gala Highlights Chicago’s Teens

Nearly 800 civic, corporate and community leaders attended the After School Matters

Annual Gala on Monday, September 24 at the Wintrust Arena to celebrate a banner year of successfully providing after-school and summer programs for Chicago teenagers. This year, After School Matters reached more than 18,000 Chicago teenagers who participated in the organization’s programs, which encourage youth to explore and develop their talents while gaining critical skills for work, college and beyond.

“After School Matters recognizes that the greatest investment we can make is in our children,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Whether it’s through mentoring, summer jobs or after school activities, we are increasing investments in Chicago’s youth in every neighborhood. We are proud to partner with After School Matters to support Chicago’s children and help them achieve their dreams.”

The Annual Gala was presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and hosted by the After School Matters Board of Directors. Honorary Chairs included Mayor Rahm Emanuel and First Lady Amy Rule, 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.

“Nights like tonight are a testament to what we can accomplish when we come together to provide Chicago teens with an opportunity to succeed and fulfill their dreams,” said Mellody Hobson, board chair of After School Matters. “After another record-breaking year of teen participation for After School Matters, the funds raised tonight will give us the ability to make an even bigger impact on the lives of Chicago youth.”

The evening’s performances, centered on the theme of “It Takes A City,” highlighted an alumni soloist, Deonte Baker, who appeared on the last season of “American Idol.” 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.

“The After School Matters community comes together each September to celebrate the remarkable work our teens have accomplished throughout the past year developing new talents, building relationships and discovering their passions,” said Mary Ellen Caron, chief executive officer of After School Matters. “With thousands of teens from all corners of this city comes a devoted community of parents, community leaders, elected officials, instructors, volunteers and supporters of our mission. Together, we are showing Chicago youth how much they matter - not just for their futures but for who they are today.”

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.