The inspiration for After School Matters arose two decades ago from the desire of then-Chicago First Lady Maggie Daley and former Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg to develop cultural activities for the city’s teenagers.
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 gallery37 was born.
In large white tents on Block 37 that first summer, 260 teens apprenticed under and learned from professional artists. The program was popular and successful with teens who were eager to learn from caring adults who are experts in their field.
Moreover, teens reported that gallery37 helped them express themselves through their chosen art form, made them better communicators and introduced them to new career opportunities.
In 2000, with important funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the successful apprenticeship model used in the gallery37 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 our content areas. In 2006, with the help of generous support from Abbott, science programming was added to the organization’s program content menu.
Until her passing in 2011, Maggie Daley continued to serve as Chair of After School Matters, which has grown exponentially through hard work and collaboration with our partners, teens, communities and local and national supporters. Since 1991, we have impacted well over 100,000 teens. In the 2011-2012 summer and school year, After School Matters has the capacity to provide 20,000 program opportunities for teens at 45 high schools and over 100 community based organizations.
After School Matters proven apprenticeship model and our unique focus on teens has made us a nationally and internationally recognized organization and a leader in the out-of-school time movement. Our model has already been replicated by organizations in Boston, Providence and New York.
As we move into the next 20 years, we aim to build on the legacy of our Founder Maggie Daley, increasing program offerings in Chicago to ensure that every teen who wants to participate in After School Matters programming has the chance. While we are dedicated to keeping a strong focus on the quality and breadth of our program offerings in Chicago, we are also primed for expanding our work on the national stage, promoting further replication of the After School Matters program model, and providing teens nationwide with opportunities to discover their potential
and find their path to a meaningful life.