20th Anniversary

The 20th Anniversary Kickoff Event

Learn about After School Matters 20-year History

Media Contact



Meghan Testimonial
Meghan Bestler is an After School Matters alum who says that After School Matters influenced her to continue her passion for singing, as well as inspired her to give back to her own community!

Watch her testimonial



The inspiration for After School Matters® arose 20 years ago from the desire of Chicago First Lady Maggie Daley and former Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg to develop cultural activities for the city’s teenagers.

“As a mother of two teenagers at the time, I didn’t see any cultural outlets for them. Lois and I were brainstorming ways to change this for our city’s young people,” said Mrs. Daley.

In a timely correlation, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley tasked all City commissioners, including Weisberg, to develop ideas to put a vacant piece of commercial real estate in downtown Chicago to good use. A prominent parcel at the core of the City’s business district—designated “Block 37” in the official zoning books—sat undeveloped. This location, in 1991, was where After School Matters predecessor, coined “Gallery 37” (and later branded gallery37®), was born.

Tents Under large white tents set up on Block 37 that summer, 260 teens learned from professional artists, and from there, the program continued to grow.

In 1996, Gallery 37 created a partnership with Chicago Public Schools and began to provide programming in schools. In 2000, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the successful apprenticeship formula used in the arts programs was expanded to technology, sports and communications. This array of programs became known as After School Matters, an umbrella organization for all of the program areas: gallery37®, tech37®, sports37® and words37®. In 2006, with generous support from Abbott, science programming was added to the organization’s program content menu (science37®).

Mrs. Daley continues to serve as chairperson of After School Matters, which has become a nationally recognized model for best practices in after-school programs serving teens, and has grown to provide 20,000 program opportunities this year.