Posted on behalf of Mary Teeter, Development Manager at North Shore United Way. At its March 20 meeting, the North Shore School District 112 Board of Education recognized staff members at Northwood Junior High, the Highland Park-based social service agency Family Service, and United Way for a groundbreaking partnership that is helping Northwood Junior High School Latino students make a successful transition to high school. For the full TribLocal article about this award, click here. The Youth Educational Support and Success (YESS) program provides comprehensive after-school, evening and weekend programming to a targeted group of immigrant and low-income Northwood students and their families. While community service programs have long been in place for Highland Park and Highwood students up through fifth grade and at the high school level, there was no program for middle school students. “Research shows that if by the time students reach ninth grade they are doing well academically, socially and emotionally, they’re not only more likely to succeed in high school but they are more likely to pursue a college career,” said Erika Alcibar, Latino and Youth Program Coordinator at Family Services. Conversely, Latino students from low-income families who don’t receive support are at high risk for not graduating from high school, Alcibar said. Family Service and Northwood jointly applied to United Way for funding last summer, and in September were awarded a grant of more than $100,000 to fund the program for a two year cycle. Students in the program meet at Northwood for two hours after school four days a week, Monday to Thursday. There, they receive a healthy meal each day provided by the Northern Illinois Food Bank, along with homework help and tutoring. But academics is just one component of the program, Alcibar said. It also aims to provide students with cultural opportunities that they would not otherwise have. The YESS grant was the result of many months of planning by a group of dedicated North Shore School District 112 and Family Service employees, and support from the North Shore United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, which recognized the need and the value of funding such a comprehensive program, said North Shore School District 112 Superintendent David Behlow. “Their hard work and efforts will make a lasting and meaningful difference in the lives of students and their families,” he said. The employees recognized by board members included Alcibar, Schroeder and Ferrari, along with Northwood ELL teacher Emily Kurth, Northwood Social Worker Rosa Machabanski, Family Service Executive Director Paul Dean, Family Service Latino and Youth Program Advocates Mireya Boysselle and Cindy Camacho, Jessica Vlahogiannis, Program Manager at North Shore United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, and Lorelei Beaucaire, Chief Professional Officer at North Shore United Way of Metropolitan Chicago.
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