Nearly 300 Chicago teenagers who participated in After School Matters programs this summer celebrated their accomplishments by showcasing their work at the After School Matters Annual Gala on Tuesday evening. The event, which was attended by approximately 1,000 civic, corporate and community supporters, included a variety of teen performances as well as teen visual art, science and technology displays.
The Annual Gala, held in the Lakeview Terrace and Grand Ballroom of Chicago’s historic Navy Pier, was presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and hosted by Mellody Hobson—Chair of After School Matters and President of Ariel Investments—Nora Daley, E. Robbie Robinson and the After School Matters Board of Directors. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule once again served as the Gala’s Honorary Chairs.
“It is critical that the City of Chicago and its partners provide our youth with safe, productive and enriching learning opportunities beyond the classroom to support their overall educational experience,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Our tremendous partnership with After School Matters gives thousands of teenagers across Chicago programs and opportunities in a variety of fields, ensuring they are on the path to a successful future.”
For more than two decades, After School Matters has offered Chicago high school teens high quality out-of-school time opportunities in the arts, communications, science, sports and technology that allow them to explore and develop their talents, while gaining critical skills for work, college and beyond.
“This past year has been incredibly impactful for After School Matters as we served more teens than ever before, including a record 8,000 Chicago teens this summer alone,” said Mellody Hobson. “The support we received tonight will help us give every teen the opportunity to succeed and fulfill their dreams.”
The reception featured teens engaging guests through visual arts displays including drawing, painting, mixed media and skateboard design, metal works, photography, multi-media digital arts, glassworks, print-making and jewelry-making, as well as interactive displays showcasing their skills in engineering, robotics and urban agriculture. The evening’s program included song and dance performances by teens from across the city in a variety of After School Matters programs, including ”Oklahoma!” from the musical Oklahoma! as well as a unique version of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” which concluded the evening. All visual art pieces displayed at the event were available for purchase, and any not purchased at the event will now be for sale at the After School Matters Retail Store, located at 66 E. Randolph. All proceeds directly support After School Matters programming.