YLS Member Spotlight: Laura Perez

How did you become involved with YLS? I joined after attending an Oktoberfest event with a friend. I was struck by how well the event was put together how welcoming everyone was. Had I not signed up, I would have regretted missing an opportunity to become more engaged and involved with my community. What was an experience that really connected you to YLS? I joined the Special Events committee and we were in charge of planning the Annual Holiday Party. We implemented the buddy system, and we were thrilled with the response. The beauty of the buddy system is that we reach out to new or potential members before the event. They are paired up with YLS committee members so when they arrived at the holiday party there was someone to greet them right away, introduce them to people and make them feel welcome. The buddy system engages newcomers right away and allows YLS veterans to extend their network. What is your favorite YLS memory? Without a doubt, it was a volunteer event last year at the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. We were there to teach the kids about health and fitness, but it was the YLS volunteers that left with big smiles on their faces. The kids were so enthusiastic and absolutely adorable. Why do you continue to stay involved with YLS? Events like the holiday party and the volunteer events are two of the biggest reasons. These events make me excited to become more involved with YLS, which is why I was honored to accept the position of Chair for the Special Events committee. I look forward to another exciting YLS year. Laura Perez Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago & YLS Special Events Chair

YLS “Movie and a Mission” Inspires Young Adults

By Richard Drieberg, YLS Issue Awareness Committee Member, Enterprise Valuation Group More than 40 people attended the event which featured a screening of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN, the acclaimed 2010 documentary focusing on some of the failures of the American public education system. The documentary hones in on a number of public school students from diverse backgrounds and also transformational education reformers such as Geoffrey Canada. While the movie entertained the audience with touching personal stories, surprising statistics, and humorous missteps along the educational reform path, its ultimate message was clear: American public school students deserve a better education than what they are receiving today. To that end, the United Way’s Katie Cangemi followed the screening with an overview of the LIVE UNITED 2020 vision and ambitious goal of helping 50,000 early-childhood and middle school students from under-performing areas succeed as they prepare to take their next step along their education journey. The vision focuses on the two most influential transition periods in a student’s life, and aims to ensure that younger children enter school ready to learn, and middle school students enter high school prepared to succeed and on the track to graduate. The movie’s message resonated and even brought tears to many of the viewers, but the path to ultimate success for the students featured in the film is still in question. The LIVE UNITED 2020 vision will work to make sure so that hard working students throughout the city will get the high quality public school education that they deserve.

The Line That Connects: Good Deeds Tackle Early-Childhood Literacy

Rashied Davis reads to a group of children in Pritzker Park

With education in the minds of many Chicago parents, teachers, students and citizens as the new school year approaches, a challenge to reach 100,000 good deeds came in the form of connecting art to action. This effort, known as the GO DO GOOD campaign, provides a positive way for Chicagoans to actively participate in improving education in our city. The campaign, led by United Way of Metropolitan Chicago and the Chicago Loop Alliance, kicked off last month with the unveiling of a mural created by Midwestern artist Kay Rosen. Each month of the 100-day campaign is driven to give kids the tools they need to thrive in school, including literacy, healthy eating and back-to-school this June, July and August. This month marked Literacy as its theme, encouraging participation in various book-drives throughout the city. On Thursday, June 23, a Read-In featuring Chicago Bears player, Rashied Davis took place at Pritzker Park in the Loop. Davis, whose own charity, Rashied Davis Charities, supports early-childhood literacy, welcomed over 50 children by reading one of his daughter’s favorite childhood books to the group. At the close of the event, each child received a library card, a copy of the book read and a newfound love of reading. “I’m honored that CLA asked me to be apart of the GO DO GOOD campaign.  I enjoy doing anything helping children accomplish goals and dreams in life,” explained Rashied. “Education is very important to my wife and I so anytime we can get involved with teaching children the importance of reading we are all over it.  Students that perform well in school become more productive members of society so it is our job as adults to get them ready for life.  It is to our benefit as well.” As part of the GO DO GOOD campaign, the Read-In at Pritzker Park, served to emphasize the importance of literacy and a child’s preparedness upon entering school. Literacy is a cornerstone in a child’s academic achievement, shaping how effectively and efficiently an individual learns. But today, 46% of kids start school without the skills they need to learn. Even more daunting, the larger the gap at school entry the harder it is to close. With donations made through GO DO GOOD, as well as our new Education Initiative, United Way will support programs that ensure children enter school ready to learn and support kids in their successful transition into high school. However, the impact and breadth of the campaign relies on your participation! Over the next couple months opportunities to donate food in promotion of proper nutrition, as well as a stuff-the-bus school supplies event will take place in the heart of downtown. We will be counting the GOOD deeds on our website, as well as with black and yellow displays on State St. The website also features a “Deeds and Deals” section suggesting ways in which you can help us reach 100,000. With the help and support of our community, our hope is to send our children to school with the tools they need to succeed.

Live United with Pride

United Pride is proud to announce United Way of Metropolitan Chicago’s second annual appearance in the Chicago Gay Pride Parade. After a year’s worth of hard work improving our organization’s culture, practice and relationships, we’re ready to celebrate! Pride is a time of year to stand together and commemorate another year of growth and acceptance. It is also a time for us to share ourselves with Chicago’s LGBTA community. United Way of Metropolitan Chicago is proud to be a presence in the community by supporting the programs that provide services to those with the greatest need. Our community impact work goes far beyond funding. We’re able to implement resources through volunteerism, advocacy, community leadership, capacity building and so much more. As we look forward, the future holds exciting things for United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. We will narrow our resources into communities that are comprised of people living at or below 200% of the federal poverty level and continue our focus on the building blocks of stability; education, income and health. This will create a ripple effect of change throughout Chicago and its surrounding communities, creating long term solutions to achieve our goal of LIVING UNITED. So be safe during Pride and when you see those United Way marchers on Sunday give ‘em a shout out because they’re working to ensure that the LGBTA community LIVES UNITED.