MEF Letter to the Editor Featured on Crain's Chicago Business

Crain's Chicago Business

It was encouraging to read Crain's coverage about the role that business is playing in transforming schools and students ("Life lessons," Focus, March 18). Like many other nonprofit organizations serving at-risk youth, Midtown Educational Foundation has enjoyed tremendous support from the business community for nearly 50 years, not only in the form of financial contributions but from employee volunteer campaigns that produce nearly 400 mentors every year for the Walgreens One-on-One tutoring program for fourth- through sixth-grade children.

More must be done, and quickly, to help thousands of Chicago-area youth from low-income families and dangerous neighborhoods see beyond the despair of their environment today and reach for a brighter, more hopeful future. Kids need to feel safe, see the value of education and strive for excellence in school and in their personal lives.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's recently announced five-year plan to raise $50 million from the business community to finance youth development programs is encouraging if it will focus on what's already working, as opposed to creating a costly bureaucracy. So is the Illinois Mentoring Partnership's initiative to recruit 500,000 volunteers from across the state.

Time is of the essence, and business, educational and nonprofit leaders need to act together with a greater sense of urgency to close the achievement (and opportunity) gap for disadvantaged kids. It's not only the kids' futures that we need to worry about. It's Chicago's.

Executive director, Midtown Educational Foundation 
Steering committee, Illinois Mentoring Partnership

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