Urban Initiatives is enormously grateful to have partnered with Starbucks and Hyatt as a part of their Global Month of Community Service to make a difference in the Englewood community and the lives of Urban Initiatives participants. We are excited about the possibility of continuing this partnership to support our beloved schools. Urban Initiatives values opportunities for people to experience different communities, ideas, and ways of living, and we know that these amazing volunteers benefited from their work in Englewood just as much as the residents and kids. A special thanks goes out to Paul Groshko, Starbucks Regional Director, for helping to build this growing partnership with Urban Initiatives.
On a beautiful Saturday on April 27th, Starbucks and Hyatt volunteers made their way down to Englewood to put in a good, full day of community service. The volunteers gathered at the historic field house in Sherman Park bright and early to hear inspiring words from Starbucks and Hyatt representatives and from partner organizations Urban Initiatives, Chicago Cares, Libby Elementary and ReBuild Chicago. Delicious Starbucks coffee and breakfast gave the volunteers the energy they needed to tackle their projects.
Urban Initiatives has been fortunate to be a beneficiary of Christ Church Winnetka's Rummage Sales for the past several years. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with them again! Come out
to the sale to find a selection of lots of great stuff to support local charities. We hope to see you there.
As the 88 m.p.h. sinker flew toward the plate all eyes inside Wrigley Field were focused on Chicago Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair. But no eyes were more focused than those of brothers and Goethe Elementary Work to Play students Ricky and Tyler. With his teammate on third base Bryan did what he does best, swung his bat with all of his power and launched a towering sacrifice fly, putting the Cubs on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Ricky, Tyler, their Mother Monica and Father Richard all cheered loudly for Bryan and continued to throughout the entire game.
Many adults can recall a moment in their childhood when they were read to by a teacher, parent, or volunteer. And most can attest to that experience creating a positive influence on their lives. Pasteur Elementary, an Urban Initiatives Work to Play school, was lucky to have a team of volunteers pay a visit for their 2nd Annual Read-A-Thon. Urban Initiatives, Chicago Fire, and 13th Ward Alderman Marty Quinn all brought out volunteer readers.
At 3:30 p.m. on May 4, at Chicago’s North Avenue Beach Turf Field, Chicago Inferno players will hold a clinic for kids from Urban Initiatives, after which the Inferno will face the kids in an 11 versus 100 soccer game.
Come watch the madness! It's guaranteed to be a good show. If you're interested in volunteering, please contact Erica at firstname.lastname@example.org
“You better get ready for a brand new day. Hey, Chicago, what do you say?” Bright and early on Saturday morning, a team of UI staff and supporters joined the 8,000 runners in the 7th Annual Race to Wrigley 5K. While most of the city was still in bed, the streets of Lakeview were flooded with Chicagoans of all ages running to set a new personal best, or just jogging for fun!
Proceeds from this year’s race go to benefit Children’s Memorial Hospital and the Cubs Charities. Both of these organizations are huge supporters of Urban Initiatives’ work in schools, so it felt great to be part of such a BIG team of people who care about keeping Chicago healthy!
Our team of runners enjoyed running together, weaving their way through the crowd. “This is like a game of frogger!” they laughed. “It’s great when you think you’ve been keeping this fast pace, and you’re feeling good about yourself, when all of a sudden you get passed by a kid who can’t be older than 10,” said one of our runners. “There’s some fast kids out there!”
Getting passed by a 10 year old, however, couldn't diminish how good it felt for our team to support the Chicago Cubs Charities, the Children's Memorial Hospital, Urban Initiatives, as well as their own health!
This post was guest-written by Carrie Rodman, the daughter of Urban Initiatives Board Member Ben Rodman. Read on to see a great way that Chicagoland young adults are getting an early start on a life of service.
This past February, New Trier's Student-Athlete Leadership Training class put together a school-wide event called TrevNight. At Trev Night, students could play 3v3 Basketball, 2v2badminton, and 7v7 dodgeball with a $5 entry fee. It was a lot of fun for everyone who helped plan it and for those who attended and played.
Urban Initiatives board member and former Chicago Fire Defender Dasan Robinson recently took some time out of his busy schedule to chat with Urban Initiatives about his recent success with the L.A. Galaxy as well as sharing some great advice for our Work to Play players. Robinson, a four-year collegiate athlete at University of Dayton, has shared the soccer field with Landon Donovan, David Beckham, & Robbie Keane as a part of the 2010-2011 MLS Cup Champion L.A. Galaxy. Originally drafted by the Chicago Fire in 2006, Robinson is no stranger to success.
Urban Initiatives' staff and Board of Directors had a fun-filled pizza party this past week. The team assembled at the Urban Initiatives office to enjoy refreshments, mingle, and talk about the importance of the work we do for Chicago' children. Overall the turnout was great with 11 staff members and 9 Board Members in attendance.
Program Associate Cris Martinez stated, "It was great to meet and see the amazing supporters behind Urban Initiatives. Everyone in our office last night has a passion for service. From serving our players, coaches, schools and families to serving each other on a daily basis. It truly is a family."
Executive Director Jim Dower was thrilled to see so many of his favorite faces in one room. "Sharing conversations over delicious pizza brought our Board and staff closer together as well as strengthened our commitment to Urban Initiatives by facilitating a greater sense of shared values and support for our mission."
Thank you to the Board for being committed. We are lucky to have a Board that is engaged on so many levels. Special thanks to Steve Cole for sponsoring the event. We look forward to hosting many more events like this in the future.
Thanks to Coach Simba, the On-Site Program Director at Jenner Academy, for this blog post.
You see her walking down Elm Street at 7:20 AM with all three of her kids. Holding her youngest child Davarius by the hand she carefully crosses the street and enters the cafeteria with a smile and a warm greeting, “Good morning, Coach Simba”. She gets all her children's gym shoes out and tells them to hurry up and put them on while grabbing their shin guards.
This is Mrs. Austin, a dedicated mother at Jenner Academy in the Cabrini Green neighborhood who encourages her children to be active in extracurricular pursuits and the school community. She has two sons and one daughter (pictured) on the soccer team. I asked her a few questions:
How long have your children been a part of the Work to Play Program?
Why did you choose Urban Initiatives for your kids?
I wanted them to be challenged. It was something different. Soccer is not a popular sport among African Americans but I wanted them to learn and become more active.
While Daley’s Urban Initiatives team reviewed its 5-4-3-2-1-Go! lesson after practice in the gym, the No Child Left Behind committee was down the hall having a health lesson for parents, with a healthy breakfast to start the day off right! As a Healthy Places school, Urban Initiatives has been working to provide workshops for parents on topics that can help them embody a healthier lifestyle.
The parent group identified diabetes awareness and prevention as a topic that they were interested in learning more about, as it is one of the leading health concerns in the community around Daley. Diabetes disproportionately affects minority groups. On average, Hispanics are 1.5 times as likely to have diabetes as Whites; African Americans are twice as likely. This article from the Office of Minority Health gives a clear outline of diabetes as a nation-wide epidemic. Lizette, the presenter from Alivio Medical Center, led an engaging discussion that gave an overview of why diabetes is a risk, described the symptoms and difficulties of living with diabetes, and explained how people can take proactive steps to change habits that can lead to diabetes.
Socioeconomic factors in communities where Urban Initiatives works often put residents at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Basic lifestyle changes including exercise and healthy eating can help manage weight and reduce the risk. It turns out that a good mantra for diabetes prevention sounds a lot like what our soccer players were shouting in unison just down the hallway:
5 servings of fruits and veggies!
4 servings of water!
3 servings of low-fat dairy!
2 hours or less of screen time!
1 hour or more of physical activity!
Urban Initiatives would like to thank our tremendous partner Storck USA for their ongoing support. Their dedication to corporate responsibility is absolutely incredible and we are grateful to have them on our team. We are extremely grateful for all they do to support us and for serving as The Presenting Sponsor of The Soccer Ball. THANK YOU!
The lunch room at Daley Academy is usually a sea of students’ hunter green uniforms, but a different shade of green is popping up these days - salad green! When Daley received their HealthierUS Schools Challenge award, the Wellness Committee (which includes Urban Initiatives staff from the Healthy Places project) worked with the lunch room staff to bring a salad bar into the cafeteria, so students could practice making healthy food choices for themselves!
More than 750 guests attended Urban Initiatives’ sixth annual Soccer Ball fundraiser on January 27th at Chicago’s River East Art Center. It was an enchanted evening of mingling for many Chicago professionals, young and old alike, who were swaying to the cool sounds of DJ Duncan and devouring the innovative culinary concoctions and specialty cocktails of J&L Catering. Additional delectable treats flowed thanks to event sponsors Goose Island, Beam, Storck and Cabot. The event broke the Urban Initiatives' previous records for attendance and corporate/private sponsorships, and raised more than $250,000 for its health and education soccer programs.
After receiving the Healthy Places grant in July, Urban Initiatives embarked on a project to enhance health and wellness resources in our partner schools beyond what we already offer with our Work to Play soccer teams. Because Urban Initiatives is committed to supporting our partner schools in every possible way, we were excited about being able to help teachers and staff in the schools come up with ways to make their school a healthier place for everyone in the community!
Urban Initiatives is proud to be a grant recipient of the Chicago Fire Foundation. Additionally, the Chicago Fire give back to our organization in many other ways. We are grateful to have them as supporters and hope you will support their efforts to raise funds to support programs like the Work to Play Program at their Season Kickoff Luncheon. We hope to see you there!
This Fall, the NCAA hosted its annual regional Student-Athlete Leadership Forum. The goal of this forum is to “engage a diverse and dynamic representation of student-athletes, coaches, faculty and administrators and provide pertinent and customized sessions that will enhance personal awareness and leadership skills needed to impact student-athlete development at the campus and conference level, and beyond the collegiate realm.” One facet of this forum was a community service project in which over three hundred NCAA student-athletes worked with 40 of Urban Initiatives' student-athletes to make hand-made blankets and audio cards to be donated to the Salvation Army for children in need. This community service project was known as the “Inspire Future Leaders – Blanket Give Away”.
On Saturday December 3rd, Urban Initiatives participants got a chance of a lifetime when they received Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) tickets at Allstate Arena, got a backstage tour, and met the lead performers. Urban Initiatives was the charity partner for the 2011 TSO event presented by Storck USA. To kick off the show, TSO and Storck presented Urban Initiatives with the check for $16,447. It was an honor for all involved.
On November 2nd, a chilly Wednesday night, two Urban Initiatives schools, Nobel Elementary and Lloyd Elementary got together to cheer on their local collegiate soccer teams. Each school was cheering for a different team - Nobel for the UIC Flames and Lloyd for the Loyola Ramblers. The UIC Flames and the Loyola Ramblers, both with Horizon League berths still undecided, squared off for another game in their crosstown rivalry. Nobel Elementary, who just a week prior, sat in the stands to see UIC's amazingly clutch finish in their victory over Wright St., was on hand to see if they could bring a little luck to their team a second time around. And Lloyd Elementary, who a week prior was on hand to see a great matchup between Valparaiso and Loyola, came showing their support hoping to see Loyola keep their Horizon League Championship berth alive.
Purchase your ticket for the annual Camp Out For Kids fundraising event on December 8th! This fun event will be held at the new Frontier (1072 N Milwaukee).