Find out what's new with AFAM and how we're passing the torch, learn about how our participants are defying the odds, review our new "In Good Company" segment, and retrieve your coupon for a free spa service!


The Archive                              March 2015
The Seed
Approximately 16 years ago, there was a homeless teenage mother who lived in a transitional housing program for young moms. Disturbed by the way the housing program was operated, she wondered, "How would this housing program be operated if I was managing it?". With that question, a dream was born. She determined that she wanted to "create a network of housing and supportive services for teen mothers". Over the years that dream has expanded and manifested into an innovative vision that has become Advocates for Adolescent Mothers (AFAM).



On August 7, 2009, approximately 10 years after that homeless teen mom entertained the idea of creating a structure to provide assistance to other homeless teen moms, Advocates for Adolescent Mothers was granted national nonprofit 501(c)(3) status. 

Anyone who knows me, knows that for the past 6-7 years, I have been consumed with the mission and vision of Advocates for Adolescent Mothers. There are very few who know the full extent of my sacrifices to sustain the operations of AFAM, to ensure that other teen and young mothers are well equipped to defy the odds against them, because I know from experience, that it can be done with adequate support. As a woman who grew up in poverty, was frequently exposed to inter-generational domestic violence, and experienced homelessness multiple times, yet delayed subsequent pregnancies and went on to earn bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago respectively, before reaching the age of 30, I have given ample thought to what it takes to replicate this success with other young moms in similar circumstances, and I'm ready to see AFAM implement this theory of change. 

There have been numerous individuals over the years who have shared in my belief that young moms are not doomed to failure because they had a child at an early age. Those people have been board members, volunteers, event guests, committee members, and donors. Before I founded AFAM, a now retired Executive Director of one of the only remaining supportive housing programs for homeless young moms in Chicago told me, "you have to have thick skin to do this work". She said a mouthful with a few words. It is not easy to establish a nonprofit organization [in Chicago], and there are increased challenges for a nonprofit serving an often misjudged and highly stigmatized population of youth such as teen mothers and their children. My journey as a nonprofit founder has been a very "rocky road" and I've learned many lessons. I'm grateful for all of those who have supported Advocates for Adolescent Mothers mission and vision in any way.

Last fall I returned to school to work toward earning an MBA with a concentration in Commercial Real Estate Development. For more than 10 years I have had a strong interest in real estate, and in 2014 I decided to pursue that interest. My personal value of empowering others will be prevalent in my real estate career. As a result of my career change, Advocates for Adolescent Mothers will soon begin the process of succession planning. It will be very difficult for me to become accustomed to going about my day without handling the business of the organization. Founding a nonprofit is like giving birth to a child, and I really love Advocates for Adolescent Mothers: I love all that this organization stands for, everything that the organization has accomplished, and the incredible impact it will have on the lives of thousands of underprivileged youth. Yet as a caring parent, I have had to make the decision that is in the best interest of this organization, and AFAM's mission and vision supersedes me.

Although this transition is bittersweet, I am excited to share this news with you. I am excited regarding what the future holds for Advocates for Adolescent Mothers. With the publication of this newsletter, we will begin our search for the extraordinary individual who will become the new torchbearer of Advocates for Adolescent Mothers. I encourage anyone interested in AFAM's Executive Director opportunity to submit their resume for consideration. Please share this opportunity with others and submit your if you are interested in learning more about AFAM's Executive Director We expect this transition to be completed before the end of 2016. We are also considering new applicants for our Advisory Commission, Board of Directors, and Action Council. Feel free to email me for greater detail about our Advisory Commission, Board, and Action Council.

Please continue reading for additional information regarding our upcoming events, activities, and opportunities, and look forward to additional information being shared in future email newsletters.

Thank you for taking the time to read my greeting. ( It's hard to believe I had no idea what to say when I started this newsletter :)

L illian  S . H arris
Founder and President


AFAM Holiday Party 2014
AFAM Holiday Party 2014
AFAM Holiday Party 2014

AFAM Holiday Party 2014

AFAM Holiday Party 2014

AFAM Holiday Party 2014

AFAM Holiday Party 2014

AFAM Distributes 900 Toys and 400 Coats to Homeless Youth for Christmas! 

Since 2011, Advocates for Adolescent Mothers has  collected and distributed toys and outerwear to homeless young moms and their children for Christmas. We operate a collection drive October - December. Our Holiday Drive culminates with a festive gathering known as our Holiday Social. Then the following week, we host a Holiday Party for the young moms and their children, where they receive their gifts. We have delivered nearly 900 toys and 400 coats to homeless and underprivileged youth at 9 Chicago area charities over the last 4 years.

We began offering the Holiday Party to young moms and their children in 2012. Beyond distributing the gifts to the young moms and their children at the Holiday Party, we provide them with food & drinks, and coordinate arts/crafts activities along with an opportunity to engage in meaningful play with their babies (which is very important to all children's healthy development). Last year we were very excited to host our Holiday Party at the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier. As you can see by the selected photos, the youth had a great time and it was refreshing to see the moms and babies play together.

There are many people who contributed to the success of our 2014 Holiday Drive Program including our Board of Directors and Event Planning Committee, the guests at our Holiday Social, and the staff at Chicago Children's Museum. 

We are very grateful for the support of the Chicago Real Estate community. There were numerous brokers that adopted entire families, which meant that they purchased toys for the children, and coats for the young moms & their children. More than 60% of the homeless families were adopted this year! We have always been able to distribute at least 1 toy to every child in our Holiday Drive Program, and this year it was our goal to provide each child with at least 2 toys. Because of the success of our 2014 Holiday Drive Program, most children received 3 toys, but there were some who received more. 

We are also especially grateful for the support of the UPS Store #1853BankFinancial Chicago Association of RealtorsChicago Association of Realtors Education FoundationColdwell Banker Lincoln Park PlazaParamount Staffing, Union Evangelistic Baptist Church, Gospel Kitchen, Xi Mu Zeta, DJ MH2da, and the 2 volunteers who photographed our Holiday Party, Mary Catherine Quinn and D'Andre Moore for their support & contributions to our Holiday Drive Program.

We look forward to brightening the holidays for homeless & underprivileged youth again this year, this time with the goal of securing donors to adopt 100% of our homeless families. If you are interested in hosting toy/coat collection at your place of work/worship, adopting a family or filling a child's Christmas wish, our volunteering to support our Holiday Drive Program (this includes volunteering to gift wrap), please provide us your information on this form.

AFAM Holiday Party 2014
The Need
AFAM Photo Collage

The Buck Stops Here Image

Make Poverty History Image

Advocates for Adolescent Mothers (AFAM) has a unique mission and services a population of youth who are often misjudged, berated, and ostracized. AFAM is  committed to empowering young parents by providing them with the tools, resources, and support needed to break the cycle of poverty, establish prosperity, and prevent child abuse.

Did You Know?
  • Teen mothers are more likely to have witnessed domestic violence; experienced parental separation or divorce; and have a family history of incarceration, substance abuse, and mental illness.
  • 60% of teen moms were victims of child sexual abuse.
  • 1/3rd of teen moms do not graduate high school before the age of 22.
  • Less than 2% of teen moms earn a college degree before the age of 30.
  • 25% of teen mothers who give birth before the age of 19 become pregnant again within 2 years.
  • Children of teen parents are 50% more likely to repeat a grade and are less likely to graduate from high school.
  • Children of teen mothers are more likely to experience adolescent childbearing, homelessness, juvenile delinquency & incarceration.
  • 5% of children born to teen mothers end up in foster care, due to higher rates of abuse.
  • Children born to unmarried teen moms with no high school diploma are 10 times more likely to live in poverty.

The data above provides context for the need of AFAM's mission. Our purpose is to address these risk factors, advocate for these youth, and reduce the prevalence of these negative outcomes among these youth.




Advocates for Adolescent Mothers currently provides financial and socio-emotional support to young moms who are in college; we collect and distribute toys and outerwear to homeless young moms and their children each year for Christmas; and we conduct research about homelessness among young moms in Chicago. In the near future, we will provide supportive housing to homeless young moms and their children. Additionally, our goals are to:

  • Create an evidence based supportive housing model that can be replicated nationally.
  • Expand our Educational Empowerment Program to provide greater support to more young mom college students.
  • Advocate for families headed by young parents by influencing local, state, and federal legislation through our research and future National Advocacy Alliance.


Over the past 5 years, our accomplishments have included:


  • Contributing to the development of the Chicago Department of Public Health's Action Plan for Healthy Adolescents in 2014.
  • Earning the Top-Rated Women's Charity status from GreatNonprofits for a 4th consecutive year in 2014.
  • Maintaining status as a GuideStar Exchange Silver nonprofit since 2013.
  • Being selected as a GoodCity incubator program 2012.
  • Providing internships to 5 graduating college seniors from Loyola University and Columbia College.
  • Distributing more than $2100 in financial support to young mothers in college through our Educational Empowerment Program, which started in 2011.
  • Providing approximately 850 toys and nearly 400 coats to homeless and underprivileged young moms and children for Christmas since 2011.
  • Providing backpacks and school supplies to approximately 200 young moms and other underprivileged youth from 2010-2012.


Our vision is to become internationally recognized as the center of the antipoverty movement responsible for alleviating poverty and establishing prosperity among families headed by young parents. Be sure to stay connected with us to witness the manifestation of our vision and don't hesitate to contact us to learn more about how you can support and/or become further involved with this movement.




Charity 2015 Crowdrise Pic

"... through fundraising for AFAM and running in the Shamrock Shuffle this year [2014], I was able to give back, increase my health, and complete my goals."

Mara 2015 Crowdrise Pic

"Running the Shamrock Shuffle was one of the best experiences. This year I feel more prepared and more excited!"

AFAM Team 
Running for Prosperity

AFAM Shamrock Shuffle Starting Line 2014
AFAM Team Running for Prosperity at the 2014 Shamrock Shuffle.

Advocates for Adolescent Mothers has hosted a team, Running for Prosperity, at the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle since 2012.

This year, AFAM's Running for Prosperity team is comprised solely of our Educational Empowerment Program participants, Charity Benefield and Mara Martinez, which are sponsored by AFAM. Both Charity and Mara ran as part of AFAM's Running for Prosperity Team last year.

Our Shamrock Shuffle and Bike the Drive teams are another primary form of fundraising for Advocates for Adolescent Mothers.

Educational Empowerment Program participants 2014 Spring Workshop
Mara and Charity during lunch at our Spring 2014 Educational Empowerment Workshop.

Charity, who has been a participant of our Educational Empowerment Program since it started in 2011, is a student at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Charity was a freshmen when she joined our program. She completed the Fall 2014 semester with a 2.86 GPA and is scheduled to graduate with her bachelor's degree this May!!!

Mara, who has been in our program since 2013, is a student at DePaul University. She completed the Fall 2014 with a 2.02 GPA. She is scheduled to graduate with her bachelor's degree this June!!!

EEP participants at Spring 2014 Workshop
Charity and Mara completing an exercise at the Spring 2014 Educational Empowerment Workshop.

Please show these extraordinary young ladies your support by donating on either of their Crowdrise pages! A percentage of the amount they fundraise will be distributed to them directly as part of their Spring 2015 Educational Empowerment grant! Their names within this segment is linked to their Crowdrise pages.

If you are already registered to run the Shamrock Shuffle, and would like to dedicate your run to AFAM, click here to join our team on Crowdrise (click the blue "Join the Team" button on the left side of the page above the current team members' photos).

In Good Company

Featured Donor Segment
Walter Deigh, March 2015 Featured Donor
Walter Deigh
Software Analyst, Laurel, MD
AFAM Donor since 2013

People need help and when you come across a charity that touches your heart, you give as you would expect others to if the tables were turned. ~Walter Deigh

Back in December, Mr. Deigh, who has quickly become one of AFAM's top individual donors, agreed to be interviewed for our 
In Good Company , Featured Donor Segment. Here's what he had to say:

AFAM: What compelled you to give your first donation?

I was compelled to make my first donation after reading a post on Lillian's FB timeline about her story on homelessness. I was deeply touched and made a commitment to her charity, AFAM.

AFAM: Why have you continued to give to AFAM? 

I have continued to give to AFAM because of what AFAM stood for and its mission statement. People need help and when you come across a charity that touches your heart, you give as you would expect others to if the tables were turned.

AFAM: How does AFAM best meet your expectations as a charity that you support? 

AFAM meets my expectations as a charity, through its transparency. Lillian and I met in DC in the summer of 2014 and AFAM was the topic of discussion. I learned a lot about the past, current and future activities, challenges and changes in and within AFAM. I was also impressed with the scholarship qualifications and criteria set by the organization [for the Educational Empowerment Program]. 

AFAM: What does AFAM do well? 

Communication via email and posts of events on FB, in my opinion, AFAM does well.

AFAM: How can AFAM improve? 

AFAM can improve if we have more donors and more qualified recipients to participate in the [Educational Empowerment] program. The process is already in place it only needs participants.

AFAM: What would you like to see happen with AFAM in the future? 

I would to see AFAM go nationwide, beyond the borders of Illinois and become a force to be reckoned with.

AFAM: Is there anything else you would like to add?

I wish I was close enough to when and where events are held so I can always offer my physical and moral support. Thank you and God bless.

We are most grateful for the support we receive from our individual donors, especially since as a grassroots organization, contributions from private donors currently are the primary means for supporting our work.

Advocates for Adolescent Mothers has a tactical approach for assisting young parents to break the poverty cycle and preventing child abuse. With your support, we can produce positive and enduring changes for 2 generations of at-risk youth. AFAM is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which means your financial contribution is tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.


We would love to welcome you to our AFAMily of donors!



Donate  online or by mailing a check or money order to:


Advocates for Adolescent Mothers

P.O. BOX 43234
Chicago, IL 60643 - 0234



Child cycling at Bike the Drive
Family cycling at Bike the Drive
Memorial Day Weekend Bike Ride on Lake Shore Drive

Join AFAM for a scenic bike ride along the full North/South stretch of gorgeous Lakeshore Drive without the interruption of cars. Bike the Drive is an awesome experience allowing individuals to cycle along one of the nation's most beautiful highways the Sunday before Memorial Day, May 24th. Lakeshore Drive is closed to cars and cyclists can ride at their own pace for as long or as short of a distance as they would like. This is a family friendly event open to individuals of all ages. 

We would love to have you on our team!

Click here to access our 2015 Bike the Drive team inquiry form. We will provide additional team information to individuals who complete this inquiry form.
AFAM Marketplace

There are many ways to support Advocates for Adolescent Mothers! Check out these ongoing easy and convenient ways to support our antipoverty mission!

Amazon will donate to AFAM when you make a purchase!

Any time you shop at Amazon using this link, Amazon will donate to AFAM. You may use this link or select Advocates for Adolescent Mothers as your charity of choice when shopping at AmazonSmile.
Op4G will pay you and donate to AFAM when you complete a survey!

When you sign up at  Op4G , you can elect to complete paid surveys and determine the amount that should be donated to AFAM. Learn more  here.

GoodSearch will donate to AFAM for your internet searches!

Make your online searching and shopping count as a donation to AFAM by downloading the GoodSearch toolbar!  A donation will be made to AFAM every time you search online or shop at more than 1,500 stores (from Amazon to Zazzle!) when you use the GoodSearch toolbar. This toolbar also saves you money by providing you available discount codes for the site where you are shopping.
IIC Logo
IIC will donate to AFAM with qualifying 
real estate transactions!

Designate AFAM as a beneficiary of your real estate purchase with  Investing in Communities!


Investing In Communities is a nonprofit social enterprise that makes it possible for individuals and businesses to fund nonprofits for free through brokered real estate transactions.

The Archive 

AFAM Email Sponsor

March 2015 

It's On The House!

Free Wax for You, Donation for AFAM!

Advocates for Adolescent Mothers has partnered with European Wax Center to offer free wax services to AFAM supporters who are
first time customers!

can choose from a free eye brow, ear, or nose wax.

have the choice of receiving a free bikini line, eyebrow, or underarm wax. Ladies can also use this offer to upgrade to a Brazilian bikini wax for only $23.50.

There are more than 11 Chicago area locations. Be sure to mention AFAM when booking your appointment and bring this coupon with you!

T ell 'em AFAM sent you!
Thank you for your continued readership of AFAM's email newsletter,  The Archive
As always, I welcome your feedback. Have a great day and I hope to see you soon! :)

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