George Lucas Educational Foundation

Pursuing Passions After School: Chicago's Model Educational-Enrichment Effort

Community mentors help the After School Matters program serve more than 25,000 Chicago students. Read the article.
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Pursuing Passions After School: Chicago's Model Educational-Enrichment Effort (Transcript)

Man: It's three PM in Chicago and schools around the city are winding down for the day. But in a renovated downtown warehouse, a program called After School Matters is in full swing.

All: [singing] "Aaah. At the hop."

Instructor: Two, two, two, three.

Man: The program, which today serves over 25,000 teens, started as a summer arts program in a vacant lot.

Maggie Daley: This is lot thirty seven. It was an empty lot in the middle of the city. Every kind of art that you can think of took place here on this wonderful block. Therefore, we called the program Gallery Thirty Seven.

Man: Gallery Thirty Seven, which offers programs in the visual, performing, culinary and theater arts, has branched out to include Words Thirty Seven, promoting literacy skills like journalism and creative writing.

Student 1: Where the city belongs to the adolescent.

Man: Tech Thirty Seven, offering web design, video production and robotics. Sports Thirty Seven, for health and fitness programs. And recently, Science Thirty Seven, all under the umbrella of After School Matters.

Arne Duncan: To keep our students interested in school, to keep them motivated, we have to help every single child find their unique skill, their unique interest. So may it's dance or drama or computers, or working with other students and teaching and coaching. And After School Matters has provided that so that many, that portfolio of options. Every student's not gonna want to go to school frankly because they love biology or love trigonometry. But it might be for that after school program.

Student 2: So you just pat these dry, but don't press too hard, because if you do, they'll break.

David Sinski: If a young person's in our program, they are less likely to be truant. They have fewer course failures. Perhaps if they're not having a great success story in the school day, they get success in the after school program that reinvigorates them, helps raise their self esteem and helps them feel good about themselves, so they show up that next day for school, ready to learn.

Man: The students who participate in After School Matters receive modest stipends for working as apprentices with professionals.

Baozhen Li: It's awesome. Like the teachers were great and it's really fun. It's just like a class but we get paid for it, so that's the part.

David Sinski: Our model of an apprenticeship program lends authenticity and real world expertise that could help them to light a spark about what they may want to study, or careers that they may wanna explore.

Instructor: Let's do the dance motion again. I wanna make sure that everybody has that motion down. One, two, a five, six, seven.

All: [singing] "Let's go to the hop."

Instructor: You got it. Two, then three, four.

Maggie Daley: These are not teachers. These are people who are professionals in their field and what they bring is just this passion that they have. "I love this work and I wanna tell you about it and I wanna show you how I do it."

Man: After School Matters partners with community organizations to leverage existing resources. They also raise private funds so teens from all across the city can access their programs.

Maggie Daley: Some of these youngsters lived in public housing and some of them lived in the Gold Coast and we brought them together. And you know what, they learned to like one another and to trust one another and to realize that they had far more similarities than dissimilarities. I think that's a gift to give a young person. These young people have so much to offer and all we need to do is give them that opportunity. It's really very simple.

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Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis
  • Amy Erin Borovoy


  • Karen Sutherland

Assistant Editor

  • Amy Erin Borovoy
    • Karen Sutherland

    Camera Crew

    • Rob Weller
    • Bennett Spencer
    • Ken Ellis


    • Michael Pritchard

    Footage Courtesy of

    • After School Matters
    • Chicago Office of Tourism

    Editor's Note: Former Chicago First Lady Maggie Daley passed away in 2011 at the age of 68. You can read more about her life and achievements in this article from the Chicago Tribune. In December 2013, George Lucas and Mellody Hobson announced a $25 million donation to the organization featured in this video, After School Matters. You can learn more about their contribution in this Chicago Tribune article.

    Comments (4) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

    marilynn Fong's picture
    Anonymous (not verified)

    Thanks for capturing an exceptional example of how an after school program can re-engage students and the arts community. This can only inspire teachers,professionals and students to get excited about learning and teaching, again. The establishment of the program and its growth seems to be very well thoughout with its many partnerships. I will be sharing it with my colleagues. The video was very informative and excellently produced.

    Paula Fox's picture
    Anonymous (not verified)

    What an exciting and engaging program for the children you serve! I can see many areas our school can borrow to improve our program offerings. This is what networking is all about! Sharing the best you have to serve as a spring board for other programs to emulate. Thank you!

    morris caudle's picture
    Anonymous (not verified)

    I am a lay member of a school board serving BD students in a K-12 institution. We have interest in developing a vocational traning program for the students who are not college bound. Do you know of a model for B/D kids that we could use as a starting point for our program?
    Morris Caudle
    Heartland School Foundation Board
    Omaha NE

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