July 19, 2021
After School Matters CEO Mary Ellen Caron spoke with the Chicago Sun-Times about the new teen dedicated space at Gately Park in partnership with the… More ›
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After School Matters has engaged more than 350,000 Chicago teens and is the nation’s largest and most successful provider of after-school and summer programs for high school teens
CHICAGO—Today, After School Matters®, Chicago’s largest and the leading national provider of out-of-school-time programs for high school teens, announced its 30th anniversary celebration with a video message for Chicagoans to share stories of connections and experiences with the organization over the years.
Under large white tents on an undeveloped downtown block in the summer of 1991, 260 teens apprenticed with professional artists and earned a monetary stipend for their work. The brainchild of then Chicago First Lady Maggie Daley and Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Lois Weisberg, Gallery 37 proved popular and successful with teens eager to learn from caring adults who were experts in their field. Thirty years later, After School Matters has engaged more than 350,000 Chicago teens and offers paid program opportunities in the arts, communications and leadership, sports, and STEM in every neighborhood of Chicago.
“This year, we celebrate 30 years of After School Matters. Our programs continue to empower Chicago high school students to shape their futures,” said Mellody Hobson, After School Matters Board Chair. “These students are incredibly hardworking and deserve equitable access to life-changing opportunities. I am delighted to be a part of the After School Matters community.”
“Today we remain more committed than ever to supporting our teens,” said After School Matters CEO Mary Ellen Caron. “From the very beginning it’s been all about equity. This organization was founded to help solve an equity issue between high school teens in Chicago who had access to great after school and summer opportunities—and those who did not. By providing access to high-quality programs, and putting a stipend in their pocket, Gallery 37 and now After School Matters shows teens that they matter. Their time matters. Their futures matter.”
After School Matters is using this anniversary year as a celebration of all the people who have made their programs so impactful. Each person—from teen to instructor and from donor to volunteer—contributes to the ripple effect of After School Matters in Chicago communities, and has an After School Matters story to tell.
Visit afterschoolmatters.org/ASM30 to share your story (via video, photos and/or written text) and explore how you can participate in the 30th anniversary celebration that extends through December 2021.
“When my mom and Lois Weisberg started Gallery 37, which became After School Matters, I don’t think either of them imagined it would grow to where we are today. They both saw the potential in Chicago teens, the magic that happened when you support Chicago teens, and I know they would both be so proud to see what we’ve accomplished,” said Nora Daley, After School Matters Board Member and daughter of the late Chicago First Lady Maggie Daley.
Today, After School Matters programs are offered in all 77 neighborhoods of Chicago at a variety of sites in schools, parks, community centers, libraries and more through nearly 200 community organizations, as well as in three flagship After School Matters’ buildings designed specifically for Chicago teens: Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, The Michael and Karyn Lutz Center for After School Matters, and After School Matters at Gately Park (officially opening in summer 2021).
This summer, nearly 14,000 teens will take part in After School Matters programs through a mix of remote and in-person opportunities in the arts, communications and leadership, sports, and STEM and earn a stipend for their participation.
In 2020, in response to the pandemic, After School Matters re-envisioned its in-person program delivery model to provide remote learning programs to teens in Chicago, while also distributing technology and thousands of meals to those in need.
Multiple independent studies have confirmed teens who participate in After School Matters earn higher Freshmen On-Track rates, improved school-day attendance, and higher graduation rates than their peers. A recent report by the American Institutes for Research found that after teens participated in After School Matters remote programs during the pandemic, they reported:
“I’ve been working with After School Matters as a dance instructor since 2004, when I started as part of the Joffrey Ballet’s Community Engagement Program” said Pierre Locket, Executive Director of Forward Momentum Chicago, a partner program of After School Matters. “The programs offered by After School Matters give children an opportunity to grow, to experiment with new things, to make new friends, and most importantly, an opportunity to work in a safe space and environment. After School Matters changes lives.”
The organization serves as a leader in its field, with no other organization offering quality programs to high school students at such scale. Since inception, the After School Matters model has been replicated with more than 30 organizations all over the world, including programs in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
“Growing up in Cabrini Green, Gallery 37 was one of those opportunities that shaped who I am and the work I’m doing today,” said Cescily Phillips, After School Matters alumna from 2004. “I am the Founder and Executive Director of Inspired Aesthetics, providing free after school arts and mentoring programming for students in Kansas City, Missouri. The experience of people from all over the city coming together and creating, across lines of difference as part of After School Matters inspires me each day as I follow my purpose and passion, and give back to my community.”
In addition to collecting and amplifying stories from After School Matters’ expansive network of current and alumni teens, instructors, partners, staff, supporters and more, the organization will host a series of events for the public. Visit afterschoolmatters.org/ASM30 to stay up to date on upcoming events and opportunities.
In honor of After School Matters’ 30th anniversary, the organization is bringing together an Anniversary Circle of civic leaders to support Chicago teens. Current Anniversary Circle sponsors include Adtalem Global Education, Anonymous, Ariel Investments, Baldwin Richardson Foods, Barry Callebaut USA LLC, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, BMO Harris Bank, Chicago Bulls, Chicago CRED, Chicago White Sox Charities, ComEd, Comer Family Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, the Daley Family, East Lake Management and Development Corporation, Fifth Third Bank, GCM Grosvenor, The Hobson Lucas Family Foundation, Horizon, ITW, Peoples Gas, PNC, Polk Bros. Foundation, The Michael and Karen Lutz Family Foundation, the Malkin Family, The Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, Related Affordable Foundation, Robbie and D’Rita Robinson, Pat and Shirley Ryan, Dona and Sam Scott Foundation, United Airlines, Lisa Wardell, The Harry Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and Wintrust.
About After School Matters
Celebrating its 30th year in 2021, After School Matters is a nonprofit organization that provides after-school and summer opportunities to Chicago public high school teens to explore their passions and develop their talents, while gaining critical skills for work, college, and beyond. After School Matters programs are project-based, led by industry experts, and provide a pathway to progress in skills development and independence. Teens earn a stipend while participating in programs in the arts, communications and leadership, sports, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Over the span of three decades, After School Matters has engaged more than 350,000 teens throughout the city of Chicago. www.afterschoolmatters.org