25 Years of Reaching for Excellence

Over 440 guests enjoyed Midtown Educational Foundation’s 25th Annual Reach for Excellence Awards Dinner on October 11 at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. The event raised more than $966,000 to support the virtue-based academic enrichment programs at Midtown Center for boys and Metro Achievement Center for girls.

After watching a brief video of MEF programs and the impact that they are having on Chicago youth, MEF students, past, present and future, joined Executive Director Glenn Wilke on stage. From 1991 Alum, Marcelino Soto all the way down to a future Metro student, Eva Alston, these students represent the continuum of boys and girls that Midtown and Metro have served in their 51-year history. Marcelino, now a police officer in Cicero, graduated Midtown the year that the Reach for Excellence Awards Dinner began 25 years ago! Since then thousands more alumni have gone on to successful careers in public service, business and industry. Many have returned to Midtown and Metro to serve others.

The evening concluded with the presentation of MEF’s annual Reach for Excellence Awards to Tonise Paul, President and CEO of Energy BBDO and Dr. and Mrs. Donald Haider. Dr. Haider is a professor of Strategy at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, where he also directs the Center for Nonprofit Management. He has served on MEF’s Board of Directors for over 20 years.  The awards honor individuals of strong character and integrity who lead exemplary professional and personal lives.


All three honorees shared personal, moving testimonies about the impact of Midtown and Metro programs, emphasizing academic success—for 17 years, 100% of MEF seniors have graduated high school and enrolled in college and 91% of alumni surveyed have either graduated or are still in college—while also highlighting the culture of character education and strong involvement of MEF parents at both centers.

Many thanks to Kelly Wright, Fox News, for emceeing the event, and to the hundreds of guests who celebrated MEF student success while investing in future MEF students!

Enjoy photos from the evening: