CPS Releases list of 129 Schools Considered for Closure

CPS School closures 2013Last week, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) released a list of 129 elementary schools that it is still considering for closure next school year. These schools enroll more than 43,000 students, including 2,508 children and teens are identified as homeless.

Most of Chicago’s homeless students attend neighborhood or alternative schools, with homeless enrollment tracking almost 5% ahead of last year’s CPS record. At this pace, more than 18,000 homeless CPS students will be identified by the end of this school year.  Continue reading CPS Releases list of 129 Schools Considered for Closure

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.  Continue reading 300 teens work with CCH on Service-Learning projects

2,000 CITYPAKs distributed in October

The SBK Foundation and High Sierra Sport Co. announce The CITYPAK Project — an initiative designed to assist people who live on the street by giving them the equipment to keep their personal belongings safe.

During the second week in October, 2,000 specially-designed backpacks were distributed free of charge to homeless youths and adults across Chicago.  Continue reading 2,000 CITYPAKs distributed in October

Chicago: 105,338 homeless during 2011-12

A new analysis by CCH shows 105,338 Chicagoans were homeless in the course of the 2011-12 school year. This is 12% more than the 93,780 who were homeless a year earlier.

The total is based, in part, on the rising enrollment of homeless students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). This includes those who are doubled-up in the homes of others because of hardship, according to Policy Director Julie Dworkin, who prepared the annual report.  Continue reading Chicago: 105,338 homeless during 2011-12

Kicking off another year of Austin school outreach

Lela Cetoute and Brandon Dunlap

Every Child in School, Every Day, an outreach project based in the Austin neighborhood, kicked off its fourth year of collaboration by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and volunteers from JPMorgan Chase Bank.

“I’ve seen a lot of faces of people here who have come and done outreach with us, sometimes in the rain, and I see the impact they are making,” said Sharlita Davis, a CCH Board member who coordinates the outreach project for Chase.

The Austin outreach project has been a signature project of Chase’s Legal & Compliance Department, where Ms. Davis serves as Assistant Vice President and Contract Officer in the IP & Technology Law Group.

Forty-three Chase employees from a variety of bank departments attended a lunch kickoff Tuesday in the downtown Chase Auditorium – some to learn about the project for the first time, others to resume another year as outreach volunteers.

Made possible by generous grants from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the project reaches out to homeless families and students in Austin, a West Side neighborhood with 27 public schools. Since 2009, CCH staff and volunteers from Chase have done extensive summer outreach in Austin, distributing thousands of door hangers, posters and informational brochures to explain the school options available to homeless children and teens.

In the project’s first three years, the enrollment of homeless students in Austin public schools has almost doubled, from 376 in 2008 to 732 in December 2011, a 94% increase. Last year, 50 Chase employees volunteered to do outreach, 30 of them at least twice. In addition, 55 law students from Loyola, Notre Dame, Northwestern and the University of Iowa helped CCH distribute materials last summer and fall.

Also participating in Tuesday’s event were key staff from the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Jennifer Fabbrini, transit coordinator for the Students in Temporary Living Situations office, and Andrea Hall, senior manager for the Office of Family and Community Engagement.

Ms. Hall voiced support for the project and committed to having CPS organizers help distribute the Chase-produced outreach materials in public schools throughout the city.

“Education was my key to success.  No one can take education from you,” said Ms. Hall, speaking of her own experience as a homeless teen. “If I never got an education and people didn’t believe in me, I wouldn’t be here today.”

The event was also an opportunity to recognize outstanding Chase volunteers who have shown consistent support and energy for the project. Among them was Ophelia McGee, a Chase staffer in customer mail services. Ms. McGee has participated in every outreach event since the project began.

From left: Ophelia McGee, Sharlita Davis, Donna Jackson, Mary Ann O’Connor, and Lela Cetoute

“Volunteering with the project is very humbling,” said Ms. McGee.  “Each time, I get more out of it than I put into it. The experience is unbelievable. It is a joy and pleasure to participate.”

The campaign also honored last year’s co-chair, Donna Jackson, and Chase volunteers Lela Cetoute and Angelise French. This winter, Chase Bank honored the project’s coordinator, Sharlita Davis, with its “Good Works Volunteer of the Year” award for the Chicago region.

Every Child in School’s next outreach day, set for Thursday, May 31, will focus on preschool enrollment and access to fee waivers. Smaller outreach days are held throughout the summer, including at Taste of Austin, with a large back-to-school outreach day planned for late August.

“We always feel people here care and care enough to do something about it,” said Laurene Heybach, director of the CCH Law Project.

Volunteer Lela Cetoute also urged her fellow Chase employees to get involved: “Just give of yourself.  Just come. This is our purpose on earth: to help others.”

Chase volunteers also heard from Brandon Dunlap, a formerly homeless CPS student who earned his bachelor’s degree from Kendall College with help from a CCH college scholarship.

–       Article by Claire Lombardo, Chase/Austin outreach intern

–       Photos by J.D. Klippenstein, CCH media 

CCH sends 135 people to Springfield

Organizers with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless  brought 135 people to Springfield to advocate Wednesday. Making the trip were homeless people from Aurora and Elgin, two Chicago shelters, San Jose Obrero and It Takes a Village, and students from Tilden High School, Loyola University, and Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights.

We spoke with more than 20 legislators. We told them that we wanted their support in stopping proposed cuts to funding for emergency shelters and transitional housing, which are facing a cutback of 52%, or $4.7  million in July. We also advocated that homeless prevention grants to families have funding restored, from $1.5 million to $5 million.  Continue reading CCH sends 135 people to Springfield

Homeless youth ask state leaders, ‘What Am I Worth?’

This year, the state of Illinois supports programs for its homeless youth at an average cost of $128 for each youth.

With yearly cuts over four years, the state is spending $3.2 million for homeless youth shelters and services this year (FY 2012). That’s a 32% ($1.5 million) cutback from peak annual funding of $4.7 million in FY 2008.

An estimated 25,000 youth live unaccompanied across Illinois – youth living homeless and on their own, without family or guardian. This includes 3,189 youth who were enrolled in Chicago Public Schools last year. Many youth providers must turn away more youth than they can serve when funding averages $128 a youth.

“You can’t even buy a good iPod with that!” remarked a teen from H.E.L.L.O., a street youth group that’s facilitated by the CCH youth attorney, The Night Ministry and Lakeview Action Coalition.

To tell your legislator to support homeless youth, click here: http://bit.ly/AhyuDT

The teen’s remark inspired the CCH Youth Committee to join with H.E.L.L.O. to make a short video, What Am I Worth?

In the 3-minute video, youth explain the need as they see it. Several tell their own stories of how they became homeless.

Through its No Youth Alone campaign, 29 providers and agencies on the Youth Committee are advocating that Illinois restore funding to $4.7 million. Along with services, the funds help support 209 shelter beds for youth in Chicago, a statewide total of almost 400 beds.

The video was produced by 20 members of the HELLO youth group, with help from Denise Powers and Anne Holcomb from The Night Ministry, Ed Negron of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Jim Belanger of UCAN’s LGBTQ Host Homes Program, and CCH’s Jenifer Nyhuis, Beth Cunningham and Daria Mueller.


– Anne Bowhay, Media