Fire Works for Kids Foundation awards record-breaking $159,000 in grants and donations in 2004
CHICAGO - The FireWorks for Kids Foundation - the charitable arm of the Chicago Fire - today announced that it has awarded $159,000 in grants and donations during the 2004 calendar year, setting yet another single-year record for the organization. The FWFK Foundation also announced that its Board of Directors has chosen 10 Chicagoland organizations to receive grants from the Foundation as part of this year's overall figure.
"The increase in funding from the Foundation in this difficult economic time is a credit to all of the hundreds of donors who contributed to the Foundation," said FireWorks for Kids Foundation President Peter Wilt. "In particular, I would like to express my gratitude to all of the Chicago Fire fans, sponsors and supporters, as well as the staff of the FireWorks For Kids Foundation, who helped better the lives of so many children."
Five new charitable groups - Boys Hope Girls Hope, Christopher House, East Village Youth Programs, Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum and The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago - will receive grants from the FWFK Foundation for their programs for the first time, while the Foundation will continue its support of BUILD, Chicago SCORES, Cove School, Horizons for Youth and The Wheaton Park District. 2004 marks the seventh straight year the FWFK Foundation has broken its previous record of giving, meaning the organization has been able to increase its contributions to the community during every year of its existence.
"The staff of the FireWorks For Kids Foundation congratulates all of the organizations for the work they do for disadvantaged children through these very worthwhile programs," said FireWorks for Kids CEO Donald Ortale. "Reaching and surpassing new levels of funding each year is our duty, and we are proud of our history of annual growth in funding. We will continue to reach out to the community for time, talent and treasure, and continue to develop new and innovative ways to raise much-needed funds to support even more programs in 2005 and beyond."
The following is a synopsis of six of this year's grant recipients, including a description of the programs they plan to fund with the FWFK Foundation grants:
Boys Hope Girls Hope
Boys Hope Girls Hope (BHGH) will use its grant to continue to provide an excellent education and associated expenses for disadvantaged "Scholars." BHGH serves adolescent children, known as Scholars, in a residential scholarship program. BUILD's mission is to help the academically capable and motivate children-in-need to meet their full potential and become men and women for others by providing value-centered, family-like homes, opportunities and quality education through college. The Scholars, ages 12-18, are boys and girls from the Chicagoland area who have left lives of abuse, poverty, violence and deprivation, and live in three homes in Evanston- one girls' and two boys' homes. BHGH assumes responsibility for all aspects of the Scholars' lives: housing, meals, private school education, counseling, medical care, clothing, transportation, after-school activities and sports, community service and personal development. Program operation costs are funded entirely through gifts and grants from foundations, corporations and individuals, and from the proceeds of a variety of organization-sponsored events throughout the year.
Funds donated to BUILD will go towards the continuation of the soccer initiative that is part of BUILD's after school program at its Uptown site in Humboldt Park, which provides a caring and encouraging environment for 60 children ages 6-12. BUILD serves kids from low-income families, and the organization's mission is to "engage at-risk youth in the schools and on the streets so they can realize their educational and career potential and contribute to the stability, safety and well being of our communities." This program offers an after school program that provides a safe place, academic assistance and youth development skills in an environment where ethnic identity is respected and nurtured. The target population for the program is at-risk youth, primarily ages 6-13. The past year the program has served 106 children, with an average daily attendance of 40. This year's grant will be used to secure the gains of the soccer program implementation to date and to grow the interest and skills that the kids have developed.
The mission of Christopher House is to help children, families and individuals help themselves through integrated social, education and human service programs. With 91% of its participants being economically disadvantaged, the group's main goal is to help low-income families thrive through programming that includes early childhood and youth development, parent enrichment, counseling, adult literacy and emergency services. Christopher House serves over 3,700 children and adults at its seven Chicagoland branches.
East Village Youth Program (EVYP)
East Village Youth Program (EVYP) is an early college readiness program that offers intensive, year-round academic assistance and college and career preparatory services to Latino students from grade six through graduation from college. EVYP's programs are designed to help at-risk school youth overcome obstacles, complete a college degree, begin a career, and ultimately become successful, contributing adult members of their communities. After a three-year expansion, EVYP's College Readiness and Support program has created nine computer technology centers, expanded outreach workshops, developed new workshops for parents, expanded career readiness and support services for its college students, created a database to better monitor and evaluate work and prepared to expand mentoring programs. FWFK Foundation funds will be used to help meet the costs related to increasing capacity and expansion of the EVYP's College Readiness and Support program into a new community.
Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum
The Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum will use the FWFK Foundation's donation to fund its free youth arts education programs, which reach over 50,000 children each year. Most of MFACM's programming is free so that it will remain accessible to the widest possible range of audience members. In addition to its arts education programs, the MFACM also has two award winning youth initiatives that complement and augment the museum's educational offerings: Radio Arte and the Yollocalli Youth Museum. Radio Arte works with over 120 youths who develop all programming for this 24-hour radio station. The Yollocalli Youth Museum reaches over 1,000 students every year and offers free classes in mural painting, art, poetry, theater, and web design, as well as training in the graphic arts, to children ages 13-21. Both of these programs are located off-site in Pilsen.
MFACM will also begin a long-term arts education program with three neighborhood schools, partially funded through the Illinois State Board of Education. The three elementary schools - Perez, Lazaro Cardenas, and Cooper Dual Language Academy - are on the Illinois Academic Watch or Early Warning List. This three-year program will have three primary functions:
- A school based Art Education Program, designed to enhance children's lives though bilingual after-school programs.
- The Family Literacy Program, which is a thrice-weekly program designed to give parents the skills they need to be more involved in their children's academic lives.
- The Family Recreation Program, a set of Saturday Morning family activities throughout the year meant to strengthen parent-child relationships.
The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
Another FWFK Foundation grant will support The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's "Caring for Kids" Program, which provides sports, fitness, and recreational activities for children with physical disabilities. Participants range in age from 6-17 and are recruited through referrals. The program serves the population of children with disabilities in the Chicagoland area, providing athletic and recreational opportunities on a regular basis for no cost to the participants. Activities are held at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's Center for Health and Fitness, and at various Chicago Park District and community recreation facilities, with more than 700 children participating in 50-60 programs involving sports, fitness or recreational activities. The Rehabilitation Institute believes that, while medical care addresses children's immediate health concerns, the involvement of recreational activity programs adds another dimension to RIC's care, nurturing children's spirits though the long and often difficult rehabilitation process. The Caring for Kids Program helps to raise the expectations of what children with disabilities are capable of among both children with disabilities themselves and among non-disabled members of society.