The video below documents the check presentation, and includes words of thanks from Gads Hill Center's Chief Executive Officer, Maricela García.
Gads Hill Center thanks The TJX Foundation for supporting our youth programs since 2004. In the past year, TJX and Marshalls volunteers have completely refurbished the space used by teens in our Building Leaders program, providing new furniture and art as well as a fresh coat of paint. Their staff also donated gifts and much needed cold-weather clothing for families during our Holiday Wishes Toy Drive, as well as Easter baskets for youth in Junior Building Leaders, and a shopping trip to Marshalls for youth in last summer's Emotional Intelligence Camp.
We are grateful to The TJX Foundation and Marshalls for their deep and continuing investment in the families we serve.
When Miguel, age 17, first joined the Building Leaders program, he was very socially awkward. His grades were not very good, and he had been suspended from school. He spent most of his time in the program alone, not willingly engaging with his fellow peers or GHC staff. Overall, he did not seem to be motivated to succeed.
Miguel started to see a GHC mental health clinician to help him gain greater self-awareness, communication skills, confidence, conflict resolution, and coping skills. Through the mentoring component of the program, he also learned how to become more responsible, make better decisions, and become a better person.
As a result, his behavior in school drastically improved. School counselors reported that Miguel was able to mitigate conflict with his peers and improve his relationships with his parents and teachers, using skills he had learned at GHC. Miguel also received academic assistance, and his grades improved from a C average to an A/B average.
Instrumental to Miguel’s success was his decision to join the robotics team at GHC. Miguel’s high school also has a robotics team, but Miguel lacked the confidence to overcome his social isolation and join. At GHC, he was able to access clinical resources that not only allowed him the confidence to be part of a team, but that also spurred him to take on a leadership role on the team. On the robotics team he developed important social skills so that he went from always being alone at the start of the program, to being the stand out student who was always surrounded by a group of people, and greeting staff. He also learned invaluable skills in STEM fields that has invoked a newfound passion for learning.
Now Miguel is very excited about the prospect of attending college, and is researching colleges and universities. He found and joined the summer program at Columbia College, Gear Up, which helps prospective students prepare for school. He participated in the Corporate Experience class, and volunteered to perform a mock interview in front of all of his peers.
Miguel used all of the resources available to him in the Building Leaders program to improve in every aspect of himself. He says, “This program has helped me with my social skills and to be more responsible. The staff motivate me to do well in school and to be a better young adult.” Miguel is now confident, social, self-aware, and extremely motivated to succeed.
On August 11th, 2017 Gads Hill Center and the Hispanic Business Network of Chicago hosted our fourth annual Team Work Makes The Dream Work Golf Outing. With the partnership of our Golf Outing sponsors and attendees, together we raised a record amount of funding to support Gads Hill Center's programs for children and families. We are grateful to all of the attendees and supporters who proved that teamwork really does make the dream work!
We offer special thanks to the 2017 Golf Outing Sponsors:
As you can see in the photos below, it was a beautiful day for our 4th Annual Golf Outing. We look forward to seeing you next year!
Beverly A. Wyckoff, board president of Gads Hill Center, said the nonprofit may have had to abandon its plans to open the Brighton Park facility without the hundreds of hours of pro bono real estate work it received.
"If it were not for Reed Smith, if it weren't, in particular, for Cynthia Jared, who really raised her hand and volunteered to help us out, I don't think we could have done this," said Wyckoff, who is vice president and associate counsel of global regulatory affairs at Dover Corp.
With the help of a $2.5 million grant from the state, Gads Hill Center leaders found an old discount store property at 4255 S. Archer Ave. in Brighton Park. Located near the Nos. 52 and 62 CTA bus routes, they saw it as an ideal space to convert into an early childhood education center.
The site that will host center-based child programs is on the same block as a satellite office space for Gads Hill Center's home visiting early childhood education program.
But there were surprises, according to one Reed Smith partner who sits on the Gads Hill Center board.
"It turned out to be actually much more complicated than we expected," Mark S. Hersh said. Hersh, treasurer for Gads Hill Center, said the description of the building was "a little off," including a wall where one wasn't expected.
Although Gads Hill Center CEO Maricela García said about 80 percent of Gads Hill Center's board of directors are lawyers, none had real estate backgrounds. Hersh turned to Reed Smith partner Cynthia Jared and the rest of the firm's real estate group asking them if they could pitch in pro bono.
As more and more tricky legal hurdles arose - land title issues, difficult negotiations, the removal process of a building tenant - Wyckoff said the Reed Smith volunteers remained "unflinching."
"They answered silly, quick questions, crazy questions, panicked questions," Wyckoff said. "You could not have had better client counseling experience than we had."
The property is now purchased and Gads Hill Center is considering construction bids, Wyckoff said. Renovations are expected to begin this summer or fall.
Once open, the center is expected to serve 124 infants, toddlers and preschoolers from the mixed residential and industrial neighborhood from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to accommodate working families, García said.
Wyckoff said Brighton Park is one of the most underserved communities in the state in terms of early childhood education and support services for children from low-income families.
García said the Reed Smith attorneys' guidance was essential to making the right decisions and allowed the nonprofit to put the money it would have spent on legal help directly into the program.
"This recognition, this award that we're giving, attests to the importance of law firms and lawyers individually to make greater efforts to serve nonprofit organizations whose mission is to improve the lives of society, especially those that need opportunities for better chances at life," García said.
Gads Hill Center embarks on new partnership with the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) to address Chicago’s racial wealth divide
Recently, Gads Hill Center embarked on new partnership with the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) to address Chicago’s racial wealth divide. Download the press release below for information about GHC's partnership with CFED and other nonprofit organizations, as well as a new report from CFED that reveals a troubling racial wealth gap in Chicago.
Members of Gads Hill Center's leadership team participated in a CFED event in Baltimore, MD in January, 2017
Gads Hill Center (GHC) received a $15,000 grant from the Comcast Foundation to support year two of a technology project in which students in our Building Leaders program are trained to teach parents digital literacy skills. The project targets youth and adults across Chicago’s under-resourced southwest and west side neighborhoods – including North and South Lawndale, Brighton Park, Chicago Lawn, Gage Park, Ashburn and Back of the Yards.
Comcast also supported this project last year with a grant from the Comcast Foundation. Thanks to Comcast’s support, last year GHC provided technology training to 177 residents who demonstrated growth in digital literacy skills; 40 of the residents used enhanced computer access and proficiency to seek employment, with 53% securing employment as a result of their job search. Additionally, the youth digital literacy trainers developed valuable leadership and oral speaking skills, and a tangible advantage they can use to set their college applications apart from their peers. One youth trainer remarked that the program “taught me responsibility – what it’s like to be in the workforce, and to have a hand in helping others.”
With the help of Comcast, GHC will continue to leverage the strengths of local youth by identifying and training a cohort of 12 high school students who have demonstrated a high level of interest and competency in working with computers to serve as digital literacy trainers for other members of the community. Through this cross-generational project, GHC will improve the lives of participants by demonstrating improved digital literacy skills among adults, increasing measures of leadership, pro-social behavior and 21st century skill development amongst youth, and creating college and employment opportunities that will help local residents realize better future.
In addition, this year’s grant provides funding for GHC to update the computer lab at GHC’s Pilsen site with new tech equipment to offer an appealing, committed space for youth to present digital literacy workshops to at least 240 local residents, and to engage in their own learning. The lab will remain open for adults and youth to utilize during the agency’s hours of operation from 8am to 6pm in the summer and 8am to 8pm for the rest of the year.
“We are proud to support Gads Hill Center to help youth and adults develop the skills they need to succeed in today’s digital world,” said John Crowley, senior vice president of Comcast’s Greater Chicago Region.
This grant from the Comcast Foundation is in recognition of Comcast’s commitment to the communities where its customers and employees live and work. Since its founding in 1999, the Comcast Foundation has distributed more than $163 million in cash support of programs implemented locally in Comcast communities.
About the Comcast Foundation:
The Comcast Foundation was founded by Comcast Corporation in June 1999 to provide charitable support to qualified non-profit organizations. The Foundation primarily invests in programs intended to have a positive, sustainable impact on their communities. The Foundation has three community investment priorities—promoting service, expanding digital literacy, and building tomorrow’s leaders. Since its inception, the Comcast Foundation has donated more than $180 million to organizations in the communities nationwide that Comcast serves. More information about the Foundation and its programs is available at www.comcast.com/community.
For her internship, Elizabeth provides mental health support at William H. Seward Communication Arts Academy Elementary School in Back Of The Yards, where she's learning how serve students through a clinical approach. She also works with Building Leaders, the youth program at GHC's Pilsen site where she assists in providing a therapeutic environment for group and individual activities. Elizabeth, who attended nearby Cristo Rey High School, was drawn back to the Pilsen area for this opportunity.
Regarding her experiences at GHC, Elizabeth explains that "after accepting the internship, I knew this was where I belonged. Gads Hill Center has given me the opportunity to grow into a different specialty. My specialization is in Children and Families, and Mental Health was not my main scope of interest — until now. I am grateful to have the clinician I work with at GHC because he is extremely knowledgeable and great at his job. This internship keeps me on my toes and challenges me every day. It is a continuous learning process, and I'm excited to see how much I'll grow by the end of the academic year."
After she completes her degree, Elizabeth has many aspirations: to "feed and shelter individuals and families in need," and "to do everything I possibly can" for others, including opening a group home. "Once my internship with GHC is over," she continues, "I will have the tools and confidence to continue on this path and help others. For now, I'll stick to what I can do today and we'll see if I accomplish everything else!"
At Gads Hill Center, we are indebted to the dedicated students and emerging professionals like Elizabeth who contribute to our mission through internships in departments across the agency. For more information about current internships and other employment opportunities at GHC, visit the Careers page of our website. We're always looking for talented, mission-driven individuals to join the GHC family!