We are very proud of the quality public education available to students in our Ward. However, there remain educational gaps for some who come from within our enrollment boundaries who tend to underperform at Lincoln Park High School. This is a well-known issue, and our principals at the high school have worked hard to ensure that these children are given every opportunity and resource to succeed.
Recently, we were fortunate enough to have received two grants to help address this issue. The first is a $50,000 grant to help rising juniors at Lincoln Park High catch up from learning losses during the pandemic.
The second is to support Youth For a Better Future (YBF), which works almost exclusively with children who live at the Marshall Field Garden Apartments, a more than 600+ unit complex in the 1300-1400 blocks of N Sedgwick Ave. YBF’s students primarily attend Manierre Elementary or Franklin Fine Arts School and go on to attend Lincoln Park High School. With direct help from our neighborhood, these students can hope to achieve equity in their schooling.
YBF supplements and supports public education with after-school, field trips, dance groups, fashion, STEAM exploration, mentoring and other programs that excite and motivate kids to discover the world and make it their own. YBF requires participation in school to keep kids involved, and teachers are reporting that it is working.
YBF’s founder and executive director, Adem Aluka, is a dedicated leader who has been working with youth in Chicago since 2010, and for the last three years at 1348 N Sedgwick.
Adem was born in Togo in western Africa and raised on three continents, accompanying his father, a diplomat with UNICEF. Adem completed high school in Chicago. Adem later returned to Chicago, gravitating toward service and advocacy on behalf of the young people he often felt were without a voice—and, thus, without a future.
YBF’s After School program has made the greatest impact, it provides a safe educational space for children ages 7 to 14 two afternoons per week plus Saturday 10am-4pm. YBF is also providing a summer program to fill the gap between the end of school and the beginning of City and CPS summer programs.
Thanks to $75,000 in one-time City grants supported by Alderman Walter Burnett (27th) and myself, YBF has been able to hire personnel for the summer to support its camp and after-school program for most of 2022.
But much more needs to be done. YBF needs stable funding to keep its after school program growing, and it wants to hire a phonics specialist to do intensive work with its students. At the same time, YBF is looking for sponsors to donate experiences for the students which they otherwise would be unable to have. You can learn more at their website and Facebook page.
Please support an organization that will help African-American children a block away from our Ward to be able to succeed. Donate here.
YBF is also seeking to establish a Youth Career Mentor Program, in which Mentors discuss with a Student over 4 Zoom meetings a cross-cultural window into the professional working world. YBF also works with corporate partners to arrange for their professionals to participate in its Youth Career Mentor Program. If you or your company may be interested, please contact Adem Aluka at (773) 669-5007.
Donate to YBF at www.youthforabetterfuture.org. Learn more about YBF at
https://www.facebook.com/Youthforabetterfuture and https://www.instagram.com/youthforabetterfuture/.