The Stay in School Initiative’s Lasting Impact on a Local Student

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Mack Curtis, a recent graduate of Virginia State University is a perfect example of how contributions to United Way of Metropolitan Chicago (UWMC) create lasting impact for those we support. Mack, a Chicago native who grew up in Chicago Public Housing at the Hilliard Homes on 21st and State, was a recipient of your generosity from 2007-2009 as a high school student participating in the Exelon-ComEd-United Way Stay in School Initiative.

United Way appreciates the continued support of Exelon in making this program successful. Since 2005, UWMC and Exelon have partnered to deliver critical after-school services to nine Chicago Public School grammar and high schools committed to keeping students on track for graduation, improving course grades, and building leadership and pro-social behaviors, which directly aligns with UWMC’s community-impact plan, LIVE UNITED 2020.

UWMC and Exelon created the Stay in School Initiative to bring new resources into communities which experience the highest dropout rates in the city. Stay in School offers a holistic menu of wrap-around services which draws in the students’ families, builds students’ academic and career skills with corporate mentors, and keeps them on track for graduation and college.

Mack took full advantage of the opportunities offered through the Stay in School Initiative. He remembers Stay in School fondly, and is grateful for the support and tools given to him by Exelon and ComEd mentors and professionals. Mack was especially inspired by the other students in the program, and was encouraged to network with young people with similar goals and dreams. He relates, “It made me want to stay in school, because I saw that there was so much opportunity, I was learning how to become a man and better my future.”

Mack’s experience with Stay in School didn’t end when he graduated high school. Through all of his struggles and triumphs during his time at Virginia State, he maintained the relationships he made through Stay in School. A number of times throughout his college career, he actively engaged his old mentors for support, and the potential they saw in him continuously drove him to succeed. And succeed he did, Mack graduated Summa Cum Laude in May 2013 with a 3.0 GPA. He plans on pursuing a graduate degree in business communications at Virginia State, Wake Forest, North Dakota State, or the University of Illinois at Chicago in the fall, and one day plans to leverage his experience into a career in the fashion business.

Mack has not forgotten the support he received from his benefactors and, when thinking about his success, he humbly states that, “I owe it to United Way.”

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