300 teens work with CCH on Service-Learning projects

Evan Griffith, a member of the Speakers Bureau, works with a group of students from Curie High School.

More than 300 Chicago teens are working on Service-Learning projects with CCH and its Speaker Bureau.

Two-month projects, lasting through December, involve residents of Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, and students at four Chicago Public high schools — Al Raby, Curie, Mather and Tilden. 

“I have really enjoyed seeing the light bulbs go off for the kids, that they can make a difference by speaking up about problems that impact their lives,” said Molly Sanford, an AmeriCorps volunteer at Franciscan Outreach Association and a member of CCH’s new Education Committee.

Projects were launched after students heard presentations by the Speakers Bureau, staffed by homeless and recently homeless adults active at CCH. During the sessions, CCH leaders facilitate small group discussions with the students — such as discussing the students’ concerns for their families and communities, and explaining how to have a meaningful conversation with a legislator about an issue.

“One of my students who has experienced homelessness recognized that you can come out of a struggle like that on top, ” said Al Raby teacher Kelsey Mueller.

“My students do not get asked enough what issues matter to them,” Ms. Mueller added, “so it is always engaging for them to be able to voice their concerns and discuss community issues with adults in the listening sessions…It makes them feel validated that what they go through matters, and people want to hear their stories. It’s an opportunity for me, as a teacher, to create a culture of trust and honesty with my students as well.”

– Hannah Willage, Associate Director of Organizing