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FireWorks for Kids Foundation awards 2004 spring grants

CHICAGO, IL - The FireWorks for Kids Foundation - the charitable arm of the Chicago Fire - has announced that ten Chicagoland organizations that work towards benefiting the youth of Chicago and surrounding communities have been awarded over $84,000 in grants during the Foundation's Spring grant session. The FWFK Board of Directors approved the grants, which once again broke the Foundation's record for the largest amount of grants distributed in one session - during its spring meeting last week. The Foundation will continue funding for current programs involving three organizations - the American Lung Association, Christopher House and CLASA - while announcing new funding for programs produced by seven charitable causes - Chicago Charter School Foundation, Chicago SCORES, Deaf Way of Illinois II, Inner City Impact, Midtown Educational Foundation, San Miguel Schools and The School Children's Aid Society.

"The Board was pleased with the quality and diversity of grant applications and we are thrilled to be able to make a difference in the lives of Chicagoland children through grants to these ten worthy organizations," said FireWorks for Kids Foundation President Peter Wilt.

"The FWFK is very proud to award these grants to these very worthy organizations," said Donald Ortale, CEO of the FireWorks for Kids Foundation. "This is a special class of grantees from throughout Chicagoland. We are honored to be supporting these programs and the children that benefit from them. We thank our donors and supporters of the FWFK for their continued support which makes these awards possible."

American Lung Association

The American Lung Association received this grant to continue its efforts in tobacco prevention and asthma awareness. The program is geared toward 2nd, 4th, and 6th grade students. The ALA uses Fire players as role models in school assemblies to stress the importance to healthy lungs to athletes, specifically soccer players.

Chicago Charter School Foundation

The Chicago Charter School Foundation was formed to operate charter schools for children from kindergarten through eighth grade that provide a rigorous, college preparatory education to every student. The primary goal of the program is to help at-risk, minority, and low income students gain the essential literary and math skills necessary to be successful during the 2004-05 school year and beyond.

Chicago SCORES

Chicago SCORES' mission is to strengthen urban public school communities through soccer, literacy and community service. Chicago SCORES is an intensive after-school program working to enrich urban youths lives through regular participation and skill building in creative writing and soccer. Chicago SCORES is the only after-school program in Illinois that combines literacy and soccer training as youth development tools for at-risk young students, and is a unique and innovative approach to education and youth development. Chicago SCORES works with nine elementary schools in the North Lawndale and Little Village communities on the west side of Chicago, serving over 300 students. The FWFK's grant will help fund the following club team activities: Winter Indoor League, Graduate Club Team summer League with ChiTown Futbol, and Graduate Club Team Travel (June 3- July 3 to LA).

Christopher House

Christopher House helps low-income families thrive through integrated programming, including early childhood and youth development, parent enrichment, counseling, adult literacy, and emergency services. The FireWorks for Kids grant will help fund the tutoring program at Christopher House's Greenview site. The tutoring program matches children one-on-one with volunteer tutors who meet with them once per week. With tutors, students work on homework as well as strengthen their reading and writing skills. Additional resources and specially trained volunteers are provided for children with learning disabilities.

CLASA (Chicago Latin American Soccer Association)

CLASA is one of the largest Hispanic soccer leagues in the country. The continued funding to this organization allows CLASA to expand opportunities for underprivileged children as it elates to playing the sport of soccer. The grant will assist CLASA's continued commitment to youth soccer by providing the top level training to those who cannot afford it.

Deaf Way of Illinois II

Deaf Way of Illinois II is a conference that will take place from May 20-24, 2004 in Rosemont, IL. The general theme of this year's conference - the first of its kind in Chicagoland since 1994 - is the celebration of Deaf culture, with a particular focus on children - the future of the Deaf community. The goal of the conference is to provide a rich cultural, recreational, and educational experience for children, and the FWFK's grant will be used to provide children's programming to help bring unique recreational and educational opportunities to deaf children.

Inner City Impact

Inner City Impact strives to help disadvantaged kids by providing them with an opportunity to become productive citizens. The goal is to help inner city boys and girls break free from the cycle of oppression. Inner City Impact has developed programs that include tutoring, sports leagues, camping programs, and leadership programs. The FireWorks for Kids grant would be split between two programs. The first program is geared towards boys from 4th -8th grade and will help reach young boys that may not be motivated to join after-school programs through soccer leagues, baseball, softball and football leagues. The second grant is for girls in the 9th-12th grades at Orr High School. The Orr High School group will help girls learn how to communicate their feelings in a non-threatening environment and learn the principles of abstinence and self-respect. These programs would allow young people to become more educated in school and better equipped for successful day-to-day living.

Midtown Educational Foundation

Midtown Educational Foundation provides after-school and summertime enrichment programs that serve 1,000 students in grades 4-12. MEF strengthens disadvantages kids in both academics and character. The summer program is offered all day, five days a week for seven weeks for 7th, 8th, and 9th grade boys who spend two hours each day playing sports. The lessons on the sports field are used to complement the commitment to excellence in all aspects of a child's life: academic, physical, and character.

San Miguel Schools

The San Miguel Schools will use the FWFK's grant to support its after-school Renaissance Program. The Renaissance Program provides a variety of activities, including soccer, basketball, baseball, music, dance, art cooking, public speaking and field trips. Each student is required to participate in a minimum of nine activities during the school year. The school is a non-tuition private school that emphasizes experiential leaning. The Renaissance Program was developed to provide students with an after-school alternative to hanging out on the streets.

The School Children's Aid Society

The School Children's Aid society will its grant to help develop a new program to assist thousand of homeless children in Chicago. The program - Student Homeless Initiative to Reduce Truancy (SHIRT) - will help address the need of emergency clothing to students not attending school due to lack of basic clothing. SHIRT will distribute school clothing and shoes to homeless Chicago kids before their first day of school. The goal is to provide basic school clothing and shoes to 3,500 homeless Chicago children.


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