BUILD Chicago: Summer of Opportunity

Photo courtesy of BUILD Chicago.

While to many children summer signifies an escape from teachers and schoolwork, to several Chicago Public Schools students the closing of school doors means the loss of a safe haven. Without the presence of positive interaction and mentorship, and extracurricular activities, Chicago youth are vulnerable to gang involvement, violence and drugs.

This summer, BUILD Chicago, a winner of our 5th Annual Philanthropy Awards and an organization that engages at-risk youth and helps prevent and intervene in gang involvement in Chicago’s West and South sides, decided to team up with several other organizations to provide Chicago youth with a “Summer of Opportunity” to connect with activities, jobs and resources. On Friday, June 23, BUILD Chicago kicked the program off with a “Parade for Peace” in the Austin neighborhood. While turnout was projected at 1,000, around 3,000 people ended up marching to Columbus Park. The park itself featured information tables on summer involvement from 65 organizations as well as family activities including youth performances, a bounce house, a 3-on-3 tournament, and climbing walls.

Among the planning committee were Alderman Chris Taliaferro, American Red Cross, Austin Coming Together, Breakthru Beverage, BUILD, By the Hand Club, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Police Department, Commissioner Richard Boykin, Illinois State Treasurer’s Office, Institute for Non-Violence Chicago, KRA, Marillac St. Vincent, Pepsico, Project Exploration, St. Joseph Services, Westside Health Authority and Youth Outreach Services.

Said County Commissioner Richard Boykin, “There is no more important goal than to make sure there is peace in all communities. This event and others like it are important as we work toward the crucial mission of keeping all people safe.”

Photos from the event are available on BUILD Chicago’s Facebook page.


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Amrita Krishnan is an editorial intern at Make It Better. A rising sophomore at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications, Amrita is interested in pursuing journalism. In her free time, Amrita enjoys reading, running and painting.