A few weeks ago, more than 400 youth from six Brighton Park schools met to tackle some of the challenges they face in their community — from police violence and unhealthy relationships to adultism and violations of immigrants’ rights.
Throughout parenthood, mothers and fathers often find themselves wishing for instructions on how to raise their children to be successful in school and in life. Though no such manual exists, some neighborhood organizations supported by United Way of Metro Chicago are providing parents with the next best tool – parent leadership programs.
In the winter months of 2016, Claudia Gonzalez*, a mother of three living in Brighton Park, unexpectedly lost her job. Though she aggressively searched for alternative employment, she couldn’t keep up with rent payments for her apartment.
At the start of the school year, Jesus Alvarez was “going downhill.” His homework went unfinished most nights, his assignments were marked with Ds and Fs and his behavior was disorderly, as he was causing fights and berating teachers. For many students who grow up in Jesus’s neighborhood of Brighton Park, these behaviors can be signs of the multi-faceted challenges that they’re facing at home – challenges such as poverty, effects of disinvestment in schools, absent or overworked parents, homelessness, neighborhood violence and the pressure of working to provide for their families.
As leaders of their schools, principals play a crucial role in the success of students. United Way of Metro Chicago appreciates their contribution and is proud to highlight the principals who work in our Neighborhood Networks during Principal Appreciation Week.
Our Adopt-a-Family program supports families in need in Brighton Park, Cicero and Robbins/Blue Island. This year, 2,016 individuals received gifts ranging from clothing to kitchen wear to bicycles. We distributed the gifts to families in each neighborhood during festive holiday parties.