THE AL G. WARD SPIRIT OF GIVING AWARD recognizes both a community partner and a school partner who have consistently gone above and beyond expectations to positively impact students through a commitment to creative partnership – and who have carried out this work largely under the radar. It honors Alfred G. Ward, a founding board director who spent 15 years enriching our organization. The 2020 Spirit of Giving Awards were presented to:
Community Partner Category: The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago
For 12 years, the Smart Museum of Art has partnered with CIS of Chicago to provide a range of unique art appreciation and art-making experiences for students across the city. The Smart Museum is an innovative partner that seeks creative ways to include student voice in its programming – from interactive tours of the museum to residency programs tailored to the needs of our students. That unique approach to programming and community service has continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Smart Museum creating new virtual programming from scratch and adapting existing programs to online platforms. Through its partnership with CIS of Chicago, the Smart Museum has served almost 500 students annually during the past three years.
School Partner Category: Melania Esparza and Nadia Miranda, Sidney Sawyer Elementary School
For five years, Melania Esparza and Nadia Miranda have been strong advocates for surrounding students with a community of support. Melania and Nadia, both guidance counselors at Sidney Sawyer Elementary School, work closely with our Partnership Program team members to ensure that all 1,300 students at their Southwest Side school access the full range of programs and services they need to stay on the path to graduation.
Last year alone, Melania and Nadia accessed 15 support programs through CIS of Chicago’s community partner network. The programs, all linked at no cost to the school and students, included oral health and hygiene education, theater and sports tickets through enrichment partners, and an 18-week arts residency through our long-time partner, the Lyric Opera. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Melania and Nadia continued to rely on CIS of Chicago for essential needs items like school supplies, hygiene kits, and diapers. In addition, Melania and Nadia ensured that four Sawyer families received direct cash support from our Direct Emergency Relief Fund, created in response to the pandemic.
THE CARNAHAN FAMILY TENACITY AWARDS recognize a student from each of our Intensive Program schools who have overcome challenges in school and life. Some students resolve to work with CIS of Chicago Student Supports Managers to improve their attendance and conduct. Others may be facing significant disruptions in their personal life – from the loss of a family member to economic insecurity – and want to learn how to better cope with those stressors.
Typically, CIS of Chicago celebrates each student’s personal growth by hosting a party at their school in the spring. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the logistics of those celebrations this year, but it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm in recognizing these tenacious students. With the help of Google’s online meeting platform, Student Supports Managers set up special virtual celebrations for students, attended by their teachers, family, and friends. Students received a VISA Vanilla gift card, a certificate of their accomplishment, and an iconic “tenacious” T-shirt. Since 2014, CIS of Chicago has presented 84 students with a Tenacity Award. Student recipients in 2020 included:
Cristal, Acero – Brighton Park Elementary School
Victorious, Baker College Prep High School
Maria, Lázaro Cárdenas Elementary School
Christian, Catalyst Circle Rock
Jefferey, Chávez Multicultural Academic Center
Tamera, CICS Ralph Ellison High School
Nani, CICS West Belden Elementary School
Kheirra, Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School
Dayanna, Henry Clay Elementary School
British, Darwin Elementary School
Asana, James R. Doolittle, Jr. Elementary School
Rocio, John F. Eberhart Elementary School
Jessica, Farragut Career Academy High School
Lizeth, Foreman College and Career Academy
Moses, Frank W. Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy
Iman, Stephen K. Hayt Elementary School
A’Nara, Helen M. Hefferan Elementary School
J’estrella, Horace Mann Elementary School
Alexandra, John L. Marsh Elementary School
Paola, Mather High School
Rickira, Arnold Mireles Academy
Ana, William P. Nixon Elementary School
Louis, Phoenix Military Academy
Destiny, Pilsen Community Academy
Kristian, A. Philip Randolph Elementary School
George, Rowe Elementary School
LeMarcus, Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy
Alexis, Jacqueline B. Vaughn Occupational High School
Mireya, George Washington High School
Amarryah, Daniel Webster Elementary School
Zamiyah, Oliver S. Westcott Elementary School
Check out this short video to learn more about the Tenacity Awards.