After three decades and with more than 350,000 alumni, After School Matters is now the nation’s largest and most successful program provider of its kind. From one downtown space, we have grown to more than 400 locations across the city, partnering with 200 community organizations to serve teens in all 77 Chicago neighborhoods. That means we’ve touched a lot of lives and created a ripple effect of positive change across Chicago.
As we celebrate our 30th anniversary in 2021, we’re energized by the stories of teens from over the years, of instructors and alumni instructors, of community partners and donors, staff and supporters. We are happy to be able to share some of those stories here, and on our social media pages.
We all have an After School Matters story to share—and we want to hear yours.
Your story is part of the larger story of After School Matters and is what makes the organization and this community so impactful and so special.
Let’s hear your story. Click below to upload a video, photo, or written note.
Since 2012, Mary Ellen Caron has been the CEO of After School Matters, infusing the organization with her passion for all of Chicago’s youth. Today, under her leadership, ASM has grown and enhanced its services, remained a leader of one of the nation’s largest and most successful providers of after-school and summer program opportunities for high school teens, and continues to center the youth and the unlimited potential of teenagers throughout Chicago and beyond.
ASM Alum 👉ASM Instructor. Thaddeus Tukes began his After School Matters story back when he took his first jazz program at 13. Since then, he’s become a classically trained Jazz Vibraharpist and traveled across the world performing, composing, and celebrating the power of jazz. The Chicago Tribune says Thaddeus Tukes “brings poetry to the vibraphone.”
Today, Thaddeus is now instructing the very program that really nurtured his love and determination for being a jazz musician. Be sure to listen closely when you’re walking around Millennium Park, you’ll hear ASM teens in his Jazz Big Band program playing away!
Since 2004, Pierre Lockett has been a vital part of After School Matters, first in his role as The Joffrey Ballet’s Director of Community Engagement and later as a valued community partner with the dance program he founded, Forward Momentum. His commitment to Chicago’s teens is inspiring!
After School Matters Alum Semaj Thomas grew up in Englewood and participated in Gloria Hafer’s Advanced Culinary program with his brother Darrius. Both teens found a mentor and mother figure in Gloria and fell in love with the culinary arts. These programs empowered Semaj to try the restaurant world and he has worked his way up to become an acclaimed pastry chef at the NoMi Kitchen at the Park Hyatt. Watch a video about Semaj’s story here.