On Thursday, November 5th, Urban Initiatives hosted the Plant A Seed Breakfast, presented by Allstate. UI Board members, supporters, CPS partners, and members of the business community gathered to reflect on what makes UI unique and impactful. After welcome remarks from Board member Shawn Broadfield of Allstate, Board Vice-Chair, Neil Hirshman, spoke to the challenges that UI is addressing—gang violence and recruitment, childhood obesity, and poor academic performance.
UI Co-Founder and Executive Director, Jim Dower, explained how UI uses sport and the power of play to engage children in our programs, involve parents through meaningful connections throughout the year, and work with school staff to make sure that the lessons learned on the field and playground are balanced in the classroom. Rebecca Stinson, principal of Claremont Academy in Englewood, spoke about the impact UI has had on the Claremont community over the past 6 years.
Mawi Asgedom, acclaimed author and speaker featured on Oprah, gave the keynote. Mawi spoke about his background as an Ethiopian refugee, arriving in the United States as a child and feeling invisible. He tied this to the invisible communities around us—communities like the underserved children we serve all over Chicago. The crowd was motivated by his passionate remarks to challenge themselves and become engaged in the life of those less fortunate.
Neil closed the presentation with an invitation for all to support the Soccer Ball. Afterward the crowd was abuzz about attending the 10th Anniversary Soccer Ball. UI thanks Allstate, Neil Hirshman and Shawn Broadfield from our Board, Rebecca Stinson from Claremont Academy, our keynote speaker, Mawi Asgedom, and Storck North America for being a part of the morning.