Boys Hope Girls Hope

Boys Hope Girls Hope Senior Scholars with their college acceptance letters.

Boys Hope Girls Hope helps academically capable and motivated children-in-need to meet their full potential and become men and women for others by providing value-centered, family-like homes, opportunities, and education through college. We support our Scholars for 10 years from the time they enter our program in middle school/high school, through college completion and entry into the career of their choice 

Boys Hope Girls Hope (BHGH) maintains a holistic view of each child as we assume responsibility for all aspects of the Scholars’ lives: education, housing, house staff, nutrition, medical care and counseling, diversity, spirituality, and community service.

All of our Scholars come from Chicago-area families, most of whom are deeply affected by poverty, substance abuse, gang violence, and other seemingly insurmountable challenges. Our program is designed to break this crippling cycle by playing critical roles that the Scholars’ families cannot fulfill. We show children how to live respectfully and peacefully in a diverse community setting. We give them a college preparatory education and a safe and positive environment in which to study and live. By providing our Scholars with all of the tools they need to succeed in college and beyond, we help them to move beyond the constraints of poverty that often extend from generation to generation. We give them the tools to transcend difficult circumstances and realize their full potential.

Our story is best told from the Scholar perspective. Meet Alvaro.

Not many 4th grade kids map out their own educational paths through college, but Alvaro is no ordinary kid.

In 4th grade, Alvaro decided he wanted a better education. He dreamed of going to a great high school, and his choice was Loyola Academy. He shared this with his single mom, who for many years has worked on an assembly line that manufactures hardware parts. At the time, Alvaro’s three older sisters were finishing high school and gearing up for college. Money was tight, so his mom broke the news that she could not afford private high school. But she also gave Alvaro some advice that stuck with him:

“You have to do everything for yourself. No one will do it for you.”

Alvaro was born in Mexico, and spent his very young years in a small, rural town. When Alvaro was 7 years old, his mom received a green card and they moved to the Rogers Park neighborhood in Chicago. While still in his neighborhood public school, Alvaro heard that a nearby charter school had counselors that helped you plan for your future. Alvaro took the initiative to apply and in 6th grade, he transferred to Uno Rogers Park Charter School. Next, with his eye on Loyola Academy, he did a Google search for scholarships. He received a prestigious Daniel Murphy Scholarship award, but it was not enough to cover his tuition. So, Alvaro did another Google search and found Boys Hope Girls Hope.

Once again, Alvaro took the initiative. He called the BHGH program office and spoke to our Program Recruiter, Ms. Tyrina Newkirk. She mailed him an application; Alvaro filled it out on his own and mailed it back. At the time he applied, all three of his sisters were in college on grants and loans, and money was still impossibly tight. In addition, his mom did not want Alvaro to apply — she wanted her last baby at home.

But when Alvaro was selected for an interview, his mom attended it with him to learn more. When Alvaro left for his overnight shadow experience in a Boys Hope home, his mom was really upset. Their routine was to have dinner together each night after she came home from work. She knew that Alvaro entering BHGH would leave her alone.

By the time Alvaro returned from his overnight shadow, his mom was at peace. She told him she knew that this was a great opportunity for Alvaro and the family. A week later, Alvaro received a call that he had been accepted! That fall, Alvaro moved into one of our Boys Hope homes and began his high school career. Every Sunday, his mom picks him up for church and then they go to lunch, continuing the routines that meant so much to them both.

Alvaro is now a senior at Loyola Academy. He is an excellent student, plays soccer both for the Ramblers and on a club team, plays the clarinet in Band and Marching Band, as well as participates in the Chinese Club and Hispanic Youth Group. He treasures his time with his mom, as well as his fellow Scholars in the BHGH family. When asked what he likes most about BHGH, he said he loves all the OPPORTUNITIES.

“If you need something, they will help you connect to the information or resources you need. Everyone at BHGH is willing to help you.”

When asked about his favorite BHGH memory so far, he leaned in and said in a hushed voice, “Once a year, all the guys stay up past curfew and talk until morning. And we haven’t been caught yet!”

So, what’s next for Alvaro? College, of course — Alvaro had that mapped out in 4th grade! This time, BHGH had the honor of helping with his applications. So far, Alvaro has been accepted to Marquette University, Loyola University Chicago, Saint Louis University, and Indiana University.

Alvaro’s future is bright and he knows he can rely on his BHGH network to support him financially and emotionally through college and beyond. Alvaro also has the help and guidance from his life mentor, Jim Seymour. The pair talk through some of the big decisions coming Alvaro’s way and also make sure to have some fun together as well.

BHGH carefully selects volunteers from the community to partner with each Scholar. These volunteers share their time, talents, expertise, skills, and life experiences to become a role model, confidant, and friend to each Scholar. Mentors invite each Scholar into their homes, take them on outings, and regularly communicate with them to guide them through adolescence.

BHGH believes it’s the multi-faceted approach between our live-in staff, caring volunteers, and the wider school communities at Loyola and Regina Dominican that provides the support each child needs to see all of their opportunities and achieve their full potential.

Boys Hope Girls Hope Scholars

Boys Hope Girls Hope Scholars with Executive Director Karen Croteau and Program Director Angel Pringle. (Photo by Terri Nevins Photography.)

This year’s BHGH Women’s Board Evening of Hope Gala celebrates and honors the mentors in our Scholars’ lives. Lisa and Jim Seymour, college mentor to Maame and life mentor to Alvaro, will receive the Heart of Gold Award. Debbie and Roger Yapp, life mentor to Jeremy and college mentor to Favour, will accept the Sheridan Leadership Award. They are joined by Martha and Bill Forsyth, college mentor to Blake, in receiving the Sheridan Leadership Award.

The BHGH Women’s Board salutes and thanks our honorees and all mentors for playing such an active, loving role in the lives of the BHGH Scholars. The Evening of Hope Gala, themed Mardi Gras Soiree, will be on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Morgan Manufacturing in Chicago.

For more information or to become involved with Boys Hope Girls Hope, please visit us at chicagobhgh.org or facebook.com/BoysHopeGirlsHopeIllinois

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