Friday, October 22, 2010


 A festive parade kicked off the celebration of the grand reopening of the Major Adams Community Committee center after a $2.8 million renovation.
The legendary 88-year-old Major James Adams joined civic and political leaders in cutting the red ribbon officially reopening the Major Adams Community Committee at 125 North Hoyne Avenue, following a $2.8 million renovation by the Chicago Housing Authority. The Major Adams Community Committee, an affiliate of the Chicago Area Project, is a Near West Side center serving youth and families with an array of after school and out-of-school programs. The renovation enables the center to provide expanded and cutting edge services for neighborhood youth and their families.
 Pat McCool, wife of the late David McCool, MACC Program Manager, watches as Teen Reach President Shantell Lumpkin directs a balloon launch in his honor.
The event kicked off with a parade led by the famed Major Adams Drum & Bugle Corps, serving as a Pied Piper, drawing children and adults to the festivities. Dignitaries present included Ald. Walter Burnett, Rep. Annazette Collins, Sen. Rickey Hendon, Ald. Robert Fioretti, and CHA executives.
    The ceremony included a tribute to Major Adams by Teen Reach member Diamond Houston and a balloon launch honoring the late David McCool by Teen Reach President Shantell Lumpkin. McCool was MACC Program Director, who died last June at age 61. The center gym is being renamed the David McCool Sportatorium.


 The Drum & Bugle Corps, the living legacy & trademark of Major Adams’ youth mentoring, kicks off the center’s grand reopening celebration.

The MACC, as it is affectionately called, has served West Side youth for more than 14 years, though Major Adams himself has mentored Henry Horner children and teens for over half a century. The center provides homework and tutoring programs; computer classes; Music in Motion, a drum & bugle corps for 7-12 year olds; the West Haven Journalists camera club; plus mentoring, sports programs, and tournaments.
 The legendary Major James Adams, who started the Hornets Drum & Bugle Corps a half-century ago to keep West Side youth out of trouble, celebrates the reopening of the center bearing his name after a $2.8 million renovation.

Major James Adams is a World War II veteran and national Jefferson Award winner. The trailblazing specialist in gang intervention and violence prevention started the Hornets Drum & Bugle Corps as a vehicle for keeping Henry Horner Housing Project kids out of trouble. Currently, more than 500 young people participate in the center’s programs annually.
Dignitaries cut the ribbon, officially reopening the Major Adams Community Committee center following a $2.8 million renovation.


Roman Morrow, candidate for 29th ward alderman

 Roman Morrow, candidate for 29th ward alderman, hanging out with Ronald McDonald at Hope Community Church at a Back-To-School event.
Austin children show off book bags & school supplies they received from Roman Morrow at 5649 W. Chicago Ave. He also sent kids by bus to Operation PUSH for school supplies.


Students from the Exelon-United Way Stay in School Initiative participate in a team-building exercise during a workshop.
    While the new documentary film Waiting for Superman is focusing national attention on the public education crisis, there are innovative programs that offer a glimmer of hope. Chicago public high school seniors who participated in one such afterschool program last year had a 98% graduation rate, well above the 54% average, program cosponsors Exelon and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago announced at the kickoff of the Stay in School Initiative’s 5th year.
    At the October 9 event, Exelon, United Way, and community-based nonprofits Youth Guidance, B.U.I.L.D., and Centers for New Horizons unveiled their annual report card, which captures the program’s impact on improving course grades, stemming truancy, building leadership skills, and keeping students on track for high school graduation and college careers. The afterschool program, which has served 9,000 grammar and high school students to date, has achieved significant results in three Chicago communities with some of the highest dropout and truancy rates in the city. According to Chicago Public School statistics, dropout rates in the Austin, Bronzeville/Grand Boulevard, and Humboldt Park/West Town communities that Stay in School serves are well above the CPS average of 42%.
    This year’s report card reinforces that at-risk students can achieve academic success with the right mix of afterschool programs and attention. The report card captures data from the 330 students who participated most actively in Stay in School programs and services during the 2009-2010 school year.
 •    98% of Stay in School seniors graduated from high school, compared to the CPS graduation rate of 54.5% in 2009.
 •    78% of Stay in School students had at least a 90% school attendance rate. Attendance is a major challenge for schools in these communities, which have average daily attendance rates as low as 68%.
 •    70% of Stay in School students improved at least one grade in core courses, such as math, science, and English. Almost all students with a B average or better at the end of their freshman year graduate, compared to only a quarter of those with a D average.
 •    79% of Stay in School students are working toward postsecondary education, such as by taking part in college prep activities.
 •    83% of Stay in School students participated in leadership-based activities (defined as non-violent conflict resolution and participation in out-of-school leadership programs).
    Exelon and United Way created the Stay in School Initiative in 2004 in response to statistics showing the citywide dropout rate had reached critical levels, especially for young males belonging to minority groups: 61% for African American males and 49% for Latino males. The Stay in School Initiative has now served more than 9,000 students, ages 13-20, and during this school year, will serve another 2,000 students.
    The partnership features a holistic menu of programming that includes tutoring, college readiness, life skills, and violence-prevention workshops, parent and family activities, and a reward-and-recognition program for achieving students. Exelon also created a companion job skills development workshop series that provides up to 10 paid internships each year.
    “I became involved with Stay in School at the end of my junior year and the program made me more focused and excited about my academics and extracurricular activities,” says Porcha Stewart, 18, a former Stay in School student from Frederick Douglass Academy High School, who now attends Mary Baldwin College in Virginia. “This program gave me a support network I didn’t have before, with people available beyond the normal school day to build my skills and focus on my achievement.”
    To date, Exelon has contributed $2 million to fund the program. Improving education in the communities Exelon serves is a key focus of its corporate citizenship program. The company and its 2,000 employee volunteers believe that educational achievement is the dividing line between economic isolation and opportunity. Education is also a key focus of United Way, which provides the leadership and resources students need to grow into independent adults.
    “Our record of achievement is a direct result of the collaboration between these agencies, schools, students, and their parents, and Exelon employee volunteers,” says Steve Solomon, Director of Corporate Relations at Exelon. “The Stay in School Initiative shows how afterschool services can extend the learning opportunities beyond the traditional school day. We are all committed to seeing these students reach their full potential.”
    “The commitment from the agency partners and volunteers at Exelon ensure the Stay in School students have positive role models preparing them for future challenges,” says Bill Mrowczynski, United Way’s Director of New Business Development. “This partnership is a prime example of corporate leadership reaching out to community experts to effect meaningful change.”
Students from Austin, Bronzeville/Grand Boulevard, and Humboldt Park/West Town hold the results of last year’s Exelon-United Way Stay in School Initiative report card. Last year, 98% of Stay in School Imitative seniors graduated from high school.
Let’s Empty the Warehouse and Fill the School House

By Valerie F. Leonard

The Chicago Tribune exposed the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center as a “warehouse for kids”.

 •    Between 1999 and 2003, over 10,000 youth were arrested and referred to Juvenile Court from the North Lawndale Community.

 •    There were 720 North Lawndale cases pending in Juvenile court, the largest number of cases from any community in Chicago.

 •    Alternatives to detention and the Juvenile Court are necessary

Community based projects focused on diverting court cases have potential to decrease youth involvement in the Juvenile Justice System.  With the right supports, we can reduce juvenile delinquency and dropout rates and increase the chances of at-risk youth becoming productive adults.

Valerie F. Leonard is a community development consultant, as well as the co-founder of the Lawndale Alliance.  Her consulting work and advocacy have provided a number of opportunities to explore youth development issues that impact communities like North Lawndale, Austin and East and West Garfield.

Valerie F. Leonard
Community Development Consultant
Phone:    773-521-3137
Fax:    773-522-1832
    (Staying In the Loop)

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The Chicago Public Schools honored four teachers at West Side schools with its annual DRIVE (Delivering Results through Innovation and Visionary Education) awards. The DRIVE winners, who are nominated and judged by their peers, are the sixth group of CPS faculty members to earn the awards. Each DRIVE winner receives $2,000, classroom supplies worth $1,000 from OfficeMax, a plaque, and membership in an advisory council to the CPS Chief Executive Officer.
    The DRIVE award was created to increase recognition for teaching excellence and exceptional performance. One teacher from each CPS Area is named as a DRIVE winner annually.
    The 2010 DRIVE winners from West Side schools are:
 •    Area 3 – Nancy Marsay Jones, Milton Brunson Math, Science & Technology School
 •    Area 7 – Cordelia Parker, Charles Sumner Elementary School
 •    Area 19 – Rozlind Kline-Thomas, Michele Clark Magnet High School
 •    Areas 28 & 29 – Chelsea Hay, Mary Mapes Dodge Elementary School.


    The deadline to apply for federal disaster assistance for damages resulting from the severe storms and flooding of July 19-August 7 has been extended to November 17. The Disaster Recovery Center at 4905 West North Avenue in the Harold Washington Plaza Shopping Center will remain open until then to assist with claims, appeals, questions, and SBA loan applications.
    The FEMA HOTLINE also continues to take claim applications at 1-800-621-3362. Persons suffering losses are urged to apply as quickly as possible, however, so that inspectors can visit homes to examine damage, so that cash assistance is received quickly and, in case of claim denials, people can receive assistance with appeals and refilings.
    FEMA reminds persons suffering flood losses to remember the following ten points:
1.    Disaster assistance is available to renters as well as homeowners
2.    Assistance is available to all residents of the seven counties designated as disaster areas
3.    People must apply to FEMA to receive federal disaster assistance, even if they reported storm damage to local or county officials immediately after the storms
4.    FEMA can help persons with limited English proficiency apply for assistance through its multilingual operators at 1-800-621-3362.
5.    Furnaces in homes affected by the flooding should be checked for proper operation before the onset of cold weather; federal assistance for cleaning and testing of flood-damaged furnaces in the disaster –declared counties may be available
6.    FEMA assistance grants are not taxable as income
7.    FEMA grants do not affect Social Security benefits or eligibility for welfare programs such as food stamps
8.    FEMA may be able to reimburse people for some disaster-related expenses, such as uninsured medical or dental losses, but receipts are necessary to document those expenses
9.    While FEMA assistance is meant to get people back on their feet after a disaster, U.S. Small Business Administration disaster recovery loans may be available to fund extensive repairs needed to return a home to its original condition before the disaster and pay for proven methods of hazard mitigation to reduce future storm or flood damage
10.    The deadline to apply for assistance is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2010; apply online at or call 1-800-621-3362, (TTY) 1-800-462-7585.

As of October 11, 5,271 residents of Zip Code 60651 had applied for assistance and $12,480,268 in grants has been approved.
In Zip Code 60644, 3,054 residents registered for aid and a total of $6,360,072 in grants has been approved
For other Zip Codes served by THE VOICE Newspapers, the statistics are as follows:
60639 – 3,254 Registrations & $7,953,051 in aid grants approved.
60624 – 2,037 Registrations & $4,238,053 in aid grants approved.
60623 – 2,839 Registrations & $6,530,819 in aid grants approved.
60612 – 706 Registrations & $1,130,089 in aid grants approved.
60608 – 81 Registrations & $1,973,044 in aid grants approved.


 Frances Funches with Tommy Simmons & friends at a press conference on the property where her house recently stood, until it was torn down by the city. (Photo by Walter Tidwell)
Frances Funches owns a property in Austin near Parkside and Division Street. Recently, the house caught fire and was damaged. Her insurance company sent out an adjuster and agreed to pay for the necessary repairs. Ms Funches found a tenant ready to rent an apartment in the building when it was restored.
 Frances Funches surrounded by friends & supporters on land that used to contain her building. (Photo by Walter Tidwell)
However, before the repairs were begun, the City of Chicago apparently put the house on fast track for demolition and it was torn down. The city did not notify Ms Funches of its intention to tear down the house or give her an opportunity to appeal and file her plans to make the building habitable again. A spokesman for the city said they try to notify the owners in cases like this but cannot always find them. Ms Funches suggests that they could have checked her deed or her property tax information to find her.
People gather on the property where Frances Funches’ house used to stand. After tearing it down, city crews bulldozed the lot to remove all traces of the house. (Photo by Walter Tidwell)
Ms Funches says she was unable to receive any assistance from Alderman Deborah Graham and reached out to Tommy Simmons of Citizens For A Better Westside for help. Last week, she held a press conference on the empty lot where her house once stood to protest the city’s action. She has contacted an attorney for possible legal action against the City of Chicago.