Lashawn Gordon, AmeriCorps Volunteer
In the heart of the South Side of Chicago lies the Englewood neighborhood Despite ongoing challenges such as poverty, unemployment and a lack of investment in the neighborhood throughout the neighborhood, the community stands strong. Currently, a movement is underway to change the lives of the residents and bring hope to the community. The movement’s goal is to make a positive change in the lives of children and families by shedding light on unrealized potential residing in Englewood along with providing resources such as educational support and assistance wWith a focus on empowering and equipping students with the tools they need to succeed in school and beyond, educational programs can become a beacon of hope for the community.
Education has always been a powerful tool for change and empowerment. In Englewood, it is no different; teaching children important academic skills and maintaining a sense of hope and possibility for a brighter future is significant. Dating back to the '60s, the systemic challenges facing the community have had an impacting struggle on Englewood's educational environment. The youth's development is hampered by a lack of extracurricular activities, crammed classrooms, and limited resources. However, behind these issues is courage, determination, and potential that, given the necessary assistance, may change the course of their young lives. According to the South Chicago Black Mothers’ Resiliency Project, “… despite living in high-violence neighborhoods, [parents] show resiliency and commitment to well-being through fostering safe and enriched childhood experiences for their children” (Imarenezor, O., 2017). This statement shows that programs for education designed specifically to meet the needs of Englewood children interest those within the community and. By tackling the obstacles head-on, these programs can provide a glimmer of hope, giving young people a way out of hardship. Providing access to high-quality education equips young brains with the information and vital life skills they need to overcome obstacles and create better futures.
The achievement gap caused by issues that plague communities like Englewood can be mitigated by mentoring programs and tutoring services, which provide individualized direction and assistance to make sure that no talent is overlooked. In addition, educational programs in under-resourced communities provide secure learning environments for enrichment. For example, similar to our programs here at HOPES that serves in the Englewood community,, there are other community programs in place with components of tutoring, mentoring, and enrichment such as LevelUp and R.A.G.E. Furthermore, they provide financial assistance opportunities to young adults, teens, and children that may relieve financial burdens and give them the support they need to thrive academically.
Beyond supplemental after-school support, there are educational institutions providing such services directly on their campuses. Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men at Englewood provides a positive school culture and rigorous college prep program. As a result, 100% of seniors have been accepted to 4-year colleges and universities. This success has also been driven by a community that values college education and believes in its students' ability to achieve, despite limited resources and limited control over enrollment (King T., 2011). It is important for students, children, and members of the community to have a safe space and that mentioned sense of belonging. It helps remind the youth that their dreams are within reach and that, despite the challenges, they are not alone on their journey.
Educational programs are more than an investment in individuals; it's an investment in the community's collective future. By nurturing a diverse range of talents, these initiatives pave the way for innovation and economic growth within the community. This not only benefits individuals but contributes to the overall revitalization of Englewood. By acknowledging struggles, recognizing the immense potential, and fostering hope through tailored educational programs, we can empower youth to break free from the cycle of adversity and build a foundation for lasting success. Together, everyone can create a culture of support and encouragement within our community, where everyone's potential is recognized and nurtured. By investing in the education and future of our young people, we can empower them to overcome any obstacles and reach for their dreams. If you're eager to get involved, there are numerous ways to make a difference. Whether it's volunteering your time, participating in fundraising events, or spreading awareness about the work being done in Englewood, every action counts.
Imarenezor, O. (2017). Chicago Black Mother’s Project on Violence, Depression, Resilience, and Sociogenomics. Undergraduate Research Journal, 2. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Chicago-Black-Mother%E2%80%99sProject-on-Violence%2C-and-Imarenezor/7949d966488bd0c085de233eb13f9d627521bef3
King, T. (2011). Commentary: Swords, Shields, and the Fight for Our Children: Lessons from Urban Prep. Journal of Negro Education, 80, 191 - 192. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Commentary%3A-Swords%2C-Shields%2C-and-the-Fight-for-Our-King/cadac93096f76efb2649fe042004f6a5d8ec32a7
(1963). From the Publishers. The Elementary School Journal, 63, 462 - 464. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/460083