CEO Update - March 2012

After School Matters Expands Summer Participation Opportunities, Access to Program Information

After School Matters is excited to be a part of two new recently announced City of Chicago initiatives that will allow us to improve access to and expand summer programming opportunities to reach thousands more Chicago teenagers.

On March 5, City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan to increase youth opportunities this summer. As part of this initiative, After School Matters will receive $2 million that will allow us to expand our number of Summer 2012 program slots by 50 percent, providing as many as 6,000 Chicago teens with the opportunity to explore and develop their talents in meaningful, safe and structured programs, while gaining critical skills for work, college and beyond. Read the full City of Chicago news release of this announcement.

Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, Chicago parents and students will be able to visit a single website to find and register for a wide variety of after-school programs offered by various city departments, agencies, community groups and nonprofits.

The site will provide a one-stop-shop on out-of-school activities and programs for youth ages 6 to 21. Parents and students will be able to use the new site to search for programs in a variety of ways, including activity, location, time and cost.

Along with our partners, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Public Library and Chicago Park District, as well as the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services and other community organizations, After School Matters is excited to participate in this exciting project, which is being spearheaded by Chicago Allies for Youth Success, a public-private partnership of organizations. Stay tuned for more details! You can also click here to read Mayor Emanuel’s official announcement of the City’s new after-school programs website.

20 Years 20 Stories: After School Matters FY11 Annual Report

The end of calendar year 2011 was the culmination of After School Matters 20th Anniversary. In honor of this milestone, our FY11 Annual Report features "20 Years 20 Stories" that document our impact through the voices of our teens, alumni, program providers, staff and supporters.

In addition to celebrating our many accomplishments, we also honor and celebrate the work of our founder and former Chair Mrs. Daley, whose vision and passion allowed After School Matters to grow into a leading out-of-school time organization.

After School Matters Tours Programs Across the Nation

I recently traveled to New York City to meet with potential funders, as well as local out-of-school time providers The After School Corporation (TASC) and the New York Department of Youth & Community Development. These meetings provided valuable insights on the challenges and opportunities we share in offering out-of-school time programming in large cities. The meetings were also a reminder that the scope of programming provided and number of teens impacted by After School Matters is unparalleled anywhere in the country.

Similarly, members of our Program Quality Division are networking with other program providers throughout the U.S. that offer robust out-of-school time programming, including L.A.'s Best, the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust, Boston After School and Beyond and Providence After School Alliance. In addition to allowing After School Matters to share and implement the most innovative ideas, as well as establish a robust collection of best practices from across the nation, these meetings futher cement After School Matters position as one of the national leaders in the out-of-school time field.

Spring Program Highlights

After School Matters Advanced Culinary Arts program recently collaborated with the French Pastry School and Jelly Belly to recreate the "Cloud Gate" (Bean) out of approximately 250,000 pieces of chocolate and jelly beans. The teen-produced sculpture measured 10 feet long by 6 feet high and was a crowd favorite at the For the Love of Chocolate Gala held at the Merchandise Mart on February 25. Our teens' hard work in creating this sculpture will be featured in a Food Channel documentary video. View the sneak preview.

Last Saturday, our Chicago Opera Theater for Teens program enjoyed a visit from international opera star Nathan Gunn, who is currently performing the lead role in "Show Boat" at the Lyric Opera. Nathan initially connected with After School Matters last fall and personally requested to visit one of our programs during his current Chicago performance run. During Saturday's visit, Nathan offered our teens some feedback on their performance of a medley and dance number from "South Pacific". He also shared some motivational lessons about the value of hard work, and conducted a question-and-answer session to answer questions about his career path and training. The visit was featured in a Chicago Tribune photo.

As always, After School Matters is incredibly proud of our talented teens who never cease to amaze us and audiences everywhere with their creativity and dedication to their work.