CHICAGO— Students who participated in an innovative afterschool program created by Exelon, ComEd and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago celebrated a successful 2015-16 academic year with a graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 21 at the Lacuna Artist Loft in Chicago. The organizations marked the close of the program's tenth year by offering select high school juniors and seniors paid summer internships and, for the first time, awarding college scholarships.
Nearly 100 current students and alumni of the program gathered to celebrate graduating students, observe and evaluate final student presentations, and commemorate a decade of progress in keeping youth on the path to academic achievement. Speakers included CBS-2 Chicago Traffic Reporter, Derrick Young, who also addressed the students at the program's kick-off in the fall.
The Stay in School initiative awarded scholarships of $2,500 to one college bound senior from each of the six partner agencies that support the program: B.U.I.L.D Inc., Corazon Community Services, Gary Comer Youth Center, Project: Vision, Young Men's Educational Network (YMEN) and Youth & Opportunity United (Y.O.U.). The agencies provide a holistic suite of programs for students and their families that include tutoring, social services, leadership and social engagement, skill-building and parental workshops. The agencies also joined ComEd, Constellation, Exelon and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago in awarding internships to exceptional students in the program.
"The students who participated in this year's Stay in School program showed immense commitment to their education, and we are proud to celebrate their achievements today," said Steve Solomon, vice president of corporate relations at Exelon. "Exelon and ComEd have been actively collaborating with United Way of Metropolitan Chicago and other community-based nonprofits to support students on their journey to finishing high school and continuing their education."
"United way knows the impact that social, academic and family support has on at-risk youth, and each year we see the Stay in School program succeed in helping students pave the way for bright futures," said Wendy DuBoe, President and CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. "We are honored to celebrate the students' graduation following a year of hard work and dedication, and are excited about their opportunities for continued academic success."
Since its inception in 2005, the Stay in School program has served approximately 23,000 Chicago-area public school students ages 11 and up. It currently serves students in neighborhoods where dropout rates have been among the highest in Chicago, including Armour Square/Bridgeport, Austin, East Garfield Park, Greater Grand Crossing, Humboldt Park, and North Lawndale, as well as in Cicero, Evanston and Skokie, Ill. Exelon and ComEd have contributed nearly $3 million to fund the program, and employee volunteers provided one-on-one mentoring to students throughout the year.
Students will be working as paid summer interns in the following positions:
Corazon Community Services (5339 W 25th St., Cicero, IL 60804): One student from this agency received a summer internship position with ComEd.
YMEN (1241 S Pulaski Rd., Chicago, IL 60623): Two students from this agency received internships with Project Vision and Gary Comer Youth center.
YOU (1027 Sherman Ave #2sw, Evanston, IL, 60202): One student from this agency was placed in a summer internship at YOU.
Project Vision (2301 S Archer Ave, Chicago IL 60616): Four students from Project Vision will be interns for United Way of Metro Chicago, BUILD and The Girl Scouts.
Gary Comer Youth Center (7200 Ingleside Ave, Chicago, IL 60619): Four students from the agency were placed in summer internships for United Way of Metro Chicago, Exelon, ComEd, Corazon and YMEN.