Fire GM Peter Wilt is excited about the new partnership.
Andy Mead/MLS/

Chicago Fire team up with Prairie State College in the Southland

CHICAGO - The Chicago Fire has announced a partnership with Chicago Heights-based Prairie State College in an effort to help grow educational opportunities for students and raise awareness of the Fire and the sport of soccer in the Southland. The Fire and College made the agreement official this morning with a signing ceremony during the Fire's annual "Winter FireFest." Fire, College, and other government officials were at hand for the event.

"The Fire is pleased to enter into such an important civic and academic venture with Prairie State College," said Fire President/GM Peter Wilt. "Dr. Paul J. McCarthy and his staff should be commended for embracing this partnership and for their efforts in offering their students with a challenging and worthwhile project. We are honored to be partnering with a fine institution such as Prairie State College and are eager to begin our work with them."

As part of the partnership, the Fire has agreed to provide students with educational opportunities, including professional direction and an organized work environment, from every aspect of the Chicago Fire community outreach involvement as well as the Fire's stadium project in Bridgeview, IL. Prairie State College students will have the opportunity to begin a career with the Fire through internships, community service work and volunteering. There will also be opportunities for part-time and full-time employment.

"From our first meetings with representatives of the Chicago Fire, I have been moved by the enthusiastic professionalism throughout the organization," said Prairie State College President Dr. Paul J. McCarthy. "Service learning where students combine course work with practical experience, internships, and part-time employment with the Fire will give Prairie State College students a distinct advantage in the job market no matter what profession they choose."

The partnership will be mutually beneficial, as Prairie State College will help the Fire raise awareness of its move to the Southland in the Spring of 2006 through the formation of a grass roots outreach campaign team comprised of students majoring in various academic fields. The College will spearhead a screening process that will help the Fire secure the most qualified students for the project.

Founded in 1957, Prairie State College is a two-year community college offering associate degrees, technical and career studies certificates, plus adult, corporate and continuing educations. The College offers studies in the fields of: Arts and Science, Business and Organizational Management, Fine, Applied and Performing Arts, Health Services, Human and Public Services, Industrial Services and Technology and Information Systems.

The Chicago Fire was founded on October 8, 1997 as an MLS expansion team. The Fire won the MLS Cup in its inaugural season in 1998 and captured the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Championship in 1998, 2000 and 2003. The club was crowned the MLS Supporters Shield Winner and Eastern Conference Champion in 2003. The Fire recently broke ground on its world-class stadium in Bridgeview, IL. The 20,000-seat stadium, which is scheduled to open in the Spring of 2006, will house the MLS team permanently and, in conjunction with the team's parent company, AEG, the site will also host major concerts and other sporting events.