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Youth Organizations Umbrella will expand its free after-school and summer learning programs to Dawes Elementary and King Lab schools in February thanks to a new grant from the state board of education.

The $270,000 annual grant is renewable for up to five years, assuming the continued availability of federal aid that funds the grants.

The Y.O.U. program offers activities to promote academic, social, and emotional development. 

“We are thrilled to be expanding our services to Dawes and King Lab,” said Seth Green, executive director of Y.O.U. “We know that these services make a real difference in the lives of youth and that they provide critical support to working parents.”

Green says 71 percent of youth who actively participated in Y.O.U.’s afterschool and mentorship program last year increased their GPAs, and 91 pecent improved their social skills based on pre- and post- evaluations.

“This is great news for the youth of our District,” said Dr. Hardy Murphy, Superintendent of District 65. “Y.O.U. already supports more than 500 youth in the District annually and this new grant will allow Y.O.U. to provide a safe, enriching, and nurturing afterschool and summer experience to 150 more District youth each year.”

Each day, Y.O.U.’s afterschool programs offer students three hours of stimulating activities and support. Part of the time is devoted to homework assistance; the rest of the time is focused on hands-on, skill-building activities such as poetry workshops, science experiments, team sports, and art lessons.

“Y.O.U. provides vital services that help youth in our community succeed,” said Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. “The expansion of these services to new schools is great news for our community.”

Y.O.U. already operates afterschool programs at five Evanston schools – Chute, ETHS, Nichols, Oakton, and Washington – and at two Evanston community sites. Y.O.U. also recently received a competitive grant from the Illinois State Board of Education to open an afterschool program at Lincoln Junior High School in Skokie.

Top: Participants in one of Y.O.U.’s current after-school programs.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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