Every Child in School, Every Day launched its fifth season of school outreach with help by volunteers from Chase Bank.
Undeterred by spring showers, eight Chase volunteers and six CCH staff and summer interns distributed 1,088 pieces of outreach material at Simeon Career Academy, educating students, families and staff on school fee waivers and other educational rights.
Located at 81st and South Vincennes, Simeon is a Chicago Public high school where 92% of students are low-income, including 234 teens identified as homeless. For these students, securing a waiver of school fees – some told us of getting as much as $800 in school bills – can mean the difference between paying rent or being evicted, access to adequate food or going hungry.
Ava Smith, a dedicated Chase volunteer, said it’s “exhilarating to educate so many people about basic educational rights and see the difference it made.”
As parents came to pick up students and students and staff flooded out of the building after school, Chase volunteers enthusiastically engaged people with information, brochures and snacks. Some families were helped to fill out fee waiver forms.
Chase volunteer Tawanda Williams said she experienced homelessness while growing up in a neighborhood near Simeon. “Kids shouldn’t have to worry about graduation fees but should be able to focus on school and not what they owe,” Ms. Williams pointed out.
Tiphanie Morris said she was inspired to volunteer for the first time because she wants to join efforts that assist homeless teens. “They need us. It’s good to give back,” she said.
By the end of outreach, volunteers helped Simeon students apply for $1,700 in fee waivers. They also advised a teacher worried about two students who are living on their own, experiencing hunger and living place to place. And they taught other parents and staff how to identify student homelessness.
Many thanks to our wonderful Chase volunteers!
– Rene Heybach, Law Project Director
– Photography by Brian Sokolowski