Midtown Educational Foundation (MEF) was the grateful recipient of a $100,000 grant from the PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc.! This grant will help fund MEF's College Orientation Program (COP) for low-income high school youth in Chicago.
Kathrine Switzer, Marathon Woman, came to Chicago on March 2nd to speak at
MEF’s 21st Annual MAC Luncheon where over 295 MEF advocates and supporters
gathered to raise over $101,000 in support of MEF’s student programming. Alum Giovanna shared, "Metro inspires girls who don’t see themselves represented anywhere else, girls who often don’t think they are worthy of succeeding. Metro teaches us we can do anything we put our mind to. This is why the city of Chicago needs a place like Metro. This is why I needed Metro."
Over winter break, Midtown and Metro hosted events for their alumni, now in college or recently graduated. It was wonderful to see handfuls of alumni gather together as a community in the places many refer to as their “second home.”
Most Chicagoans know, and many New Yorkers remember, Zoraida Sambolin as a successful television reporter. In Chicago, she is the Weekday Edition co-anchor of NBC5 News Today. She had a similar role with CNN in the Big Apple.
But when she addressed the crowd at Metro Advancement Council’s Twentieth Annual Luncheon at the Union League Club of Chicago, she was much more than a journalist, reporter and anchor. She was there as a woman whose life had been filled with obstacles—from serious health problems to professional challenges. She was there to talk about the importance of mentors in one’s life, and determination and dreams. And she was there to remind the audience of the importance of family.
Her poise at the podium and on television belied the personal and professional challenges she overcame.
“Fear,” she said, “can be a great motivator. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I was in New York but knew I had to come home to Chicago to face it with family nearby.
“Life’s journeys can be bumpy and disappointing. But you learn to overcome.”
Zoraida, who has two nephews at the Midtown Center for boys, said, “the first time I walked in the door at Metro, I felt something special.” And that something has led her to be a strong supporter of the Midtown and Metro experience for the students whose poverty and academic inertia might otherwise keep them from realizing their potential.
Perhaps what’s most telling about her view on life is her NBC5 Facebook page where she describes herself as “mom, wife and breast cancer survivor” in that order.
MEF would like to thank Jim Dudas for contributing this article and photos as part of our coverage of the MAC Luncheon. To read Jim's contribution on Metro alumna, Isabel Hernandez' presentation at the Luncheon, please click HERE.
Candace Vogler leads a team of philosophers at the University of Chicago who are studying: "Virtue, Happiness and the Meaning of Life. She recently shared some of her observations about human nature and happiness at MEF's Breakfast with Champions speaker series.
Captain Katy Higgins, the first-ever female Blue Angels pilot, spoke to the Metro Achievement Center’s 4th-12th grade students and at the 19th Annual MAC Luncheon this week. She dazzled both crowds with her tale of perseverance and overcoming the odds to make history.
Higgins, a third generation pilot (both grandfathers flew planes in World War II and her father was a pilot as well), spoke of the importance of a life of service. Higgins grew up knowing she wanted to serve people somehow, and after considering being a police officer, firefighter and a nun, chose to follow in the footsteps of her relatives.
Higgins lauded Metro’s programs for not only helping girls with academics and instilling confidence, but also for emphasizing the importance of service to their community. In each speech, she referenced Gandhi’s famous quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Higgins grew up in Maryland and was the valedictorian of her high school class. She then attended the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD, where she graduated with a degree in Political Science. She followed this degree with a Masters of Arts in International Security from Georgetown. For her military service, Higgins trained to fly C-130s, the military’s cargo plane, and deployed on a combat mission to Afghanistan and a humanitarian mission in Sudan.
Of all of her accomplishments, Higgins said her greatest accomplishment to date was saving the lives of fellow U.S. soldiers who were under attack in Afghanistan. Months later, she met one of the men whose life she had saved, and he personally thanked her. That experience alone let her know that the life of service she had chosen was worth her sacrifice.
After her second deployment, and against all odds, Higgins then began the arduous journey of applying and training to become a Blue Angel. Despite many people discouraging her efforts, Higgins forged ahead, relying on the power she gained from all of her previous experiences to endure the program and ultimately, become the first-ever female Blue Angel.
In her speech to the Metro students, Higgins told of “building up her power” at each level of training, which ultimately equipped her with the confidence and tools to accomplish what once seemed impossible. When asked about doubts along the way, she recalled failing two consecutive flight tests and leaning on her mother to help her persevere. Looking back fondly on her toughest times, she summed them up with, “Calm seas don’t make a skilled sailor.”
Higgins encouraged the girls to find their inner “Warrior Queen” to overcome the negativity around them. She described Warrior Queens as having two sides, a side that is loving and nurturing, and a side that is courageous enough to change the world. She then quoted her favorite queen, Beyonce: “Power isn’t given to you, you have to take it.” She defined power today as seizing opportunities, preparing, and doing the right things to build oneself up. After her speech, Metro girls of all ages glowed with excitement as they asked for pictures, autographs and advice from Higgins and her Blue Angel cohorts.
Higgins equally wowed the audience at the 19th Annual MAC Luncheon. Beyond her own history, Higgins paid homage to previous groundbreaking women in the military who paved the way for her (including Pvt. Opha Mae Johnson, who joined the Marine Corps in 1918, two years before women were allowed to vote).
“Women don’t just wake up one day morning and say, ‘I am going to be the first woman Navy SEAL or the first female to walk on Mars,’” Higgins said. “Organizations like MEF are critical in helping women achieve their greatest potential. In some cases, we need someone else to tell us we are smart, we are capable, we are extraordinary long before we can see it ourselves.”
Higgins went on to praise the work at both Midtown and Metro, stating that Metro is building a generation of women prepared to fight for equal wages and better opportunities, and that Midtown is building a generation of young men who are compassionate, respectful toward women, and open to equality for all.
After the whirlwind of two presentations in two days, Higgins told MEF’s Executive Director Glenn Wilke that she felt she gained more from her Metro visit than anyone, echoing the sentiments of so many MEF volunteers and supporters: that the spirit of service is the ultimate gift.
ABC7 interviews Captain Katie Higgins, the first female Blue Angels pilot at the 19th Annual Metro Advancement Council Luncheon benefiting Chicago's at-risk urban youth.
The Metro Advancement Council (MAC) presented a series of professional development workshops for Metro alumnae.
Midtown student Danny Sanchez interviews Andy Clark for a story in the Midtown Voice newspaper.
"Empowerment" - the ability to give someone more control over their life..
"If I looked good in hats, I would wear two: one for Midtown, and one for the Cubs."
Kevin Saghy, a mentor at Midtown Educational Foundation for over six years and 2012 Volunteer of the Year, serves as the Chicago Cubs Communications Manager. He spoke yesterday at the MEF Breakfast for Champions, benefiting at-risk youth at Midtown Center for boys and Metro Achievement Center for girls. The event was hosted at SkaddenArps. Before announcing the Wrigley Field Centennial celebration plans, he took a moment to share why he makes time to give back once a week.
Why do I keep going back?
"I have a busy schedule. It is challenging to make it every Thursday. But where I came from, I had a supportive extended family, and the way I viewed ‘trouble' was totally different than these kids in Chicago face on a day-to-day basis.
At Midtown, after 30 minutes of sports, 90 minutes of school-work and one-on-one goal setting, there is a character talk on a value or issue facing the boys...Two weeks ago, the talk was on gangs. These 4th-6th graders - elementary school age - already experience the pressure and influence by gang members, knowing them by name, territories, signs, and colors. It was such an eye opener.
...I see one of my students once a week. His mom told me that he looks at me as the main male influence in his life. Once a week, I could serve that role for him. That's the type of impact Midtown has, and that's why Cubs Charities supported them before I came along. So by supporting the Cubs, you are supporting great programs like Midtown Educational Foundation."
The Centennial Plans
While much of the plans are top secret, the audience was able to hear a few sneak peeks of the Wrigley Centennial Plans. Dive into celebration from each decade, from 1910's to today, and experience the ambiance from the food, music, all-star players, kids toys, and the most unique tours ever. If you're lucky, you might even have a famous player lead your tour. Mark your calendars for the official anniversary game on April 23rd, and enjoy a season full of nostalgia. Visit www.wrigleyfield100.com for complete details.
Chicago — On Friday, September 20, nearly 100 Chicago professionals and community members gathered at Midtown Educational Foundation's Breakfast with Champions. The guests arrived early to welcome John F. McDonough, President and CEO of the Chicago Blackhawks. He generously donated his time at the event benefiting Midtown Center for boys and Metro Achievement Center for girls -- academic and character enrichment centers for at-risk Chicago youth.
On behalf of the host firm, Skadden Arps, attorney Mike Scudder greeted the guests. "Thinking about Midtown [Educational Foundation] and the Blackhawks, it's quite an honor to talk about these two tremendous organizations. One of the things they have in common: tremendous success."
Chicago — On Thursday, May 8th, the Metro Advancement Council (pictured right) hosted its 16th Annual Luncheon to benefit the girls at Metro Achievement Center.
- Warm welcome by Luncheon Committee Chair, Mary Caldieraro of Aon Hewitt
- Metro Choir featured singing from Symphony Hall for Merit School of Music's MeritFest
- Sponsor recognition by emcee Dr. Sandy Goldberg of NBC5 News Chicago
- Speech by Metro alumna Yvette Castaneda, PhD candidate in Community Health Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, MPH, MBA
- Keynote Address by Kristi Savacool "A Career that Matters: Lessons in Courage, Confidence, and Conviction"
Quotables, summarized from Kristi Savacool's address:
"Whatever you do, find your mission. Align yourself with your interests. We all have special gifts."
"A lot of people will come and go in our lives. Stay focused on what's constant, and choose work that matters to you. Have an internal compass, starting in college and beyond. Have purpose and be purpose driven."
"A pencil is the best tool in life. Life changes."
"Stay true to yourself and your values. The compass I use constantly: Strength of character. Stand strong with a set of principles. Don't be afraid to draw boundaries. You are a whole person with a whole life. We all need balance. Find time for self (family). Be there and available and stay tuned in. Know what matters and when it matters. Some things stand still, everything adjusts. You decide. It will all work out."
"Listen to voices around you and be willing to work with others. Coach others and give opportunities for people to succeed."
"Have confidence to take a leap of faith. Give yourself permission to learn; permission to make a difference in a distinctive way. It's all about the confidence you give yourself. Don't flinch in the face of opportunities. Lean in!"
"Build a network of people around you that you trust. Ask for a coach. Go learn!"
"Have courage to apply yourself in the face of adversity."
"Work on things that matter. Only you get to decide."
"Make it all you can be and take advantage of opportunity. Be vulnerable. It is a safe place to learn and practice finding what matters to you. Find out what you like and don't like. Make diverse friends. Gain perspective. Gain confidence. Give yourself room to have lots of experiences even if you're scared." -on experiencing college life
"Great leaders are servant leaders."
"When the world stops turning, it takes every ounce of courage, confidence, and conviction." -on managing the massive aftermath of 9/11 at Boeing