Cabrini-Green – historical Chicago housing development, setting of one of the most terrifying movies I had no business watching as a child, site of recent radical transformation. And home to our newest nonprofit partner – Project Education Plus!
Since its 1980 inception, the purpose of PEP has been to divert the anger, frustration, and negative attitudes of the youth in the Cabrini-Green Near North area into positive learning experiences and constructive activities. PEP has maintained its focus and has expanded to provide for the demographic changes surrounding the original community boundaries. Our participants benefit from a mix of personal attention, education, collaborations, technology, and recreation that has contributed to the growth of the program. Ninety percent of the PEP families and youth make less than 50% of the area’s median income. We proudly celebrated our 26th anniversary this past June!
PEP’s founders conceived Project Education Plus during the 1980 Chicago Public School teacher’s strike after seeing a need for a regimented, innovative program with continuity. In the beginning, PEP operated an eight-week summer program and a basketball team. In the new century, we have redirected our energies to six programs while focusing on community needs.
Among the PEP programs focused on youth outreach and development:
The Peppeteers: A weekly program designed to help preK-3rd grade children develop their academic, social, and creative skills. This summer, volunteers and staff arranged trips to Navy Pier, Millenium Park, and the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Chicago Demons: A youth basketball team for boys and girls. This summer, the boys team traveled to the Las Vegas Live Tournament, where the outstanding play of Deqwon Horn, Reggie Norris, Devin Moore, Greg Pate, and Waller Perez earned them a 2nd place finish. The boys – all of whom are college bound – also squeezed in a tour of UNLV. Amazing work, young scholars!
SMART: An academic enrichment program for youth, teens, and adults in the community that includes after school and summer classes, as well as test preparation, mentorship, and scholarship opportunities. Local salon the Hair Loft invited some of PEP’s young ladies over this summer for some complimentary pampering in a true demonstration of community. Awesome.
Executive Director Vince Carter points out that as the dust has settled following the recent demolitions and the neighborhood has quieted down, program participation has increased. PEP programs are a tremendous resource to the new and established families of the community, and Mr. Carter hopes to introduce several new programs to their roster in the year ahead, including career counseling and teaching fiscal responsibility to youth.
Check out the Project Education Plus wishlist – all donations directly benefit the children, families, and seniors of the PEP community. Now is always the perfect time to get involved.