Wednesday, September 12, 2012

ASM Scores Big at 9th Annual Golf Outing

The drive leading up to the Odyssey Country Club in Tinley Park seemed formidable. Dark clouds and a muggy morning mist threatened to wreak havoc on the day.

Yet, just as we left our cars and climbed the country club steps, the sun came out.  Indeed, it was going to be a beautiful day after all. What a sigh of relief for the Swing into Action for Families Golf Committee, considering the  months of preparation it took to make everything come off without a hitch.  

On that fun-filled day in mid-August, more than 80 participants played golf and participated in an evening raffle in order to raise funds to support Chicago’s most vulnerable families and communities for Ada S. McKinley. For the past nine decades, the agency has provided invaluable support to individuals and families impacted by poverty, disability, disenfranchisement and health problems.
USI Midwest golf foursome 
Scott Welch, senior vice president at USI Midwest, and Arlene Burton-Fleming, account executive at Canon Business Solutions, served as chair and co-chair of this year’s event, while Chicago Bulls Ambassador Sidney Green served as honorary event chair.        

An all-time favorite, the golf foursome allowed participants to mix and match.  They could either team with colleagues or simply mix it up for an opportunity to network with other Chicago business professionals. Throughout the day, there were tons of games – such as Ada S. McKinley Fact Finds, Beat the Pro and Longest Drive – to keep our golfers thinking and on their feet. These games were sure to bring out the inner kid in anyone, but they were also huge reminders as to why they were there.

As the day came to a close, our raffle drawing was held and a large selection of amazing prizes was awarded.  Gifts ranged from beauty and wellness, for the lucky woman/man in anybody’s life, to a complete sports package, for the ultimate sports lover.   

Members of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois golf foursome 
With the support of sponsors such as Wells Fargo – our title sponsor – and in-kind donors, we were able to raise more than 
 $50,000.  Additional sponsors included USI Midwest, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and Canon Business Solutions.

A relaxing day filled with golf, great food and friends, while raising money for a worthy cause, sure beats a day in the office.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Generation College Student Figures Out How to Pay

Being the first family member to attend college can be a great source of pride, especially for one living under impoverished circumstances.  It is proof that goals can be attained, hard work can pay off and the cycle of poverty can be broken.  Yet, once the reality of being accepted to her first college of choice sunk in, Latavia Hill - a recent graduate of Hyde Park Career Academy in Chicago - had one major hurdle to overcome: figuring out how to pay for it.

The admissions and financial aid paperwork for most colleges can be a daunting process for those who do not have parents or family members to share their own personal collegiate experiences.

Latavia Hill, College Prep Program member
and Grainger Scholarship winner
Hill knows this feeling too well, "My family was proud of me and wanted to help, but no one really knew how.  They'd never gone through this before."  She credits the people at Ada S. McKinley's College Preparation and Placement Program for guiding her along the way.  For more than 40 years, the agency has operated a college prep program, geared towards high school students, which provides college counseling and assistance with the college admissions and financial aid process.

"My college prep advisors were my support system through it all," said Hill, a biology major who will be attending Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, this fall.  "I always felt I could contact them, day or night.  They helped me mentally and emotionally. And they helped to calm my nerves regarding the entire registration process.  I would even call them on their cell phones, outside of working hours, if I had a problem or issue."

One person who particularly stands out in Hill's mind is Sharon Logan, McKinley's Educational Services counselor.  "Ms. Logan came to my school, encouraged me, took me on college visits and helped me prepare for college life."

Hill and Roger Lubert, Branch Manager of W.W. Grainger, Inc.,
a Fortune 500 industrial supply company founded in 1927 in Chicago.
Hill, a member of the college prep program, was nominated by Logan for the Grainger Scholarship, which was established by The Grainger Foundation.  She was chosen out of a large pool of applicants.  Moreover, through the program, she successfully obtained more scholarship money - enough to ensure that her entire four-year undergraduate education would be completely paid in full, which was a personal goal of hers.

With the worry of the high cost of her education lifted, Hill is concentrating on settling in her freshman year.  Along with move-in day and starting her classes this week, she plans on participating in clubs she is passionate about - science, Spanish and soccer.  Once she completes her undergraduate studies, she would like to attend the University of Arkansas School of Medicine, where she one day hopes to become an emergency room physician.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ASM Board Director has Knack for Being at Right Place at Right Time

Timing really is everything.  Just ask Ross Carlson who is on Ada S. McKinley’s (ASM) Community Services’ board of directors.  In late May, Carlson was at the Woodard Outdoor Furniture showroom in the Merchandise Mart on business when he noticed an unusual amount of activity. 

Ross Carlson, speaking at our Making College Real
Luncheon, in May 2012.  Photo by: Jasmin Shah
His curiosity piqued, Carlson approached the showroom manager who explained that the 140-year-old manufacturer of premiere patio furniture was moving to another location in the mart and needed to unload its existing floor samples in order to prepare for the move and to make way for newer models that needed to go on display as quickly as possible.

Upon discovering that the floor manager wanted to donate to a not-for-profit, Carlson kicked into gear:  “I simply made my pitch for Ada S. McKinley,” he said.  “I guess I did a good enough job of convincing her because before I knew it, she agreed to give us much of what she intended to donate.”

The next day, George Jones, Jr., ASM’s executive director; Tracey Stokes, ASM's property management coordinator, and Kate Chappell, ASM’s chief development officer, went to the mart to work out the logistics.  Soon afterward, Chappell followed up with the showroom manager to thank her for the generous donation.  That is when the floor manager presented Chappell with an option she just could not refuse.   She wanted to know if ASM wanted more furniture.  It turned out that the Woodard staff discovered other floor samples tucked away in various areas around the showroom. 

All in all, the agency received more than $20,000 worth of new outdoor furniture, which will be distributed throughout its 38 sites and at its agency headquarters. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski Presented with McKinley Gold Medallion Award for Role in Advancing Education for Minorities

Freeman Hrabowski catapulted the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) from a sleepy backwater college to one of the top institutions of higher learning in the United States.

President of UMBC since 1992, Hrabowski was recently honored for his accomplishments and awarded the McKinley Medallion for Leadership in Education at the second annual Making College Real luncheon held at the University Club of Chicago.

Far Left: East-West University Associate Dean for Development,
 Zafar Malik,
 Director of Development, Judy Bacon,
speaking with 
Dr. Freeman Hrabowski Photo by Jasmin Shah 
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1950, Hrabowski's great-great-grandfather was a Polish slave master from rural Alabama.  At the age of 12, he was jailed for five days for participating in Dr. Martin Luther King’s Children’s March in Birmingham.  His experiences were highlighted in the 1997 Spike Lee documentary, “Four Little Girls,” about the racially motivated 1963 bombing of a Baptist Church in which four African-American girls were killed.

At age 19, Hrabowski graduated from Hampton University – an historically African-American and Native American university in Hampton, Virginia – with high honors in mathematics. He received a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when he was 24.

An accomplished university administrator, Hrabowski is nationally renowned for being at the forefront of changes and trends in education.  And he has a knack for attracting talented minority students to the fields of math and science.  As a result, in April of this year, he was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential leaders in the world

More importantly, over the past few years, U.S. News & World Report has listed UMBC among the nation’s top 10 institutions for undergraduate teaching, which is amazing considering the fact that the suburban institution is only a little more than 40 years old.

Dr. Hrabowski, keynote speaker
Photo by: Jasmin Shah
For the first half of its fledgling life, UMBC existed as a minimally selective commuter school.  But in a very brief span, it ascended to the ranks of national universities, with serious research credentials and highly respected doctoral programs, thanks in large part to Hrabowski’s tenacity and perseverance.

Through Hrabowski’s leadership, the institution has achieved national acclaim for its success in preparing African Americans for careers in science, technology, engineering and math.  In fact, he co-founded a scholarship program for high-achieving minority students committed to pursuing advanced degrees and research careers in these fields.  Based upon its impressive outcomes, the program has become a national model for other colleges and universities throughout the country with large minority populations.  Today, UMBC graduates a high number of African-American students who go on to earn their doctorate degrees.

“What we’re working to do at UMBC is to take the best of what we know about liberal arts colleges, and the best of what we know about research universities, and put it together,” Hrabowski said.

Left to right: Tony Ziak, Freeman Hrabowski III, Ph.D.,
board member Carol Bell, and Executive Director, George Jones, Jr.
Photo by: Jasmin Shah
According to a recent Washington Post editorial, “Hrabowski unquestionably ranks among the five or 10 most important college presidents in the nation.  In a two-decade tenure, he has elevated UMBC from commuter school to top-flight research university.”

Swing Into Action for Families: Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Inc.will hold its 9th Annual Golf Outing to raise funds in support of Chicago's vulnerable families and eager young students with college aspirations

Come out to the green fairways of the Odyssey Country Club in Tinley Park on Thursday, August 9th for our 9th Annual Golf Outing- Swing Into Action for Families.  All proceeds benefit Ada S. McKinley's comprehensive social services that provide much-needed assistance to over 15,000 Chicagoans annually.  Registration begins at 11:00 a.m. with golfing to being at noon.  This event promises to be "above par", consisting of 18 holes on the golf course, lunch, cocktails, and dinner with the event's Honorary Chair, Chicago Bulls Team Ambassador and former player, Sidney Green.

Chicago Bulls Team Ambassador,
Sidney Green
Green was an All-American selection at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before being selected by the Chicago Bulls in the first round (5th pick overall) of the 1983 NBA Draft.  Since retiring in 1993 after 10 years in the NBA with over 5,000 career points, Green has coached at the collegiate level.  In 2009, Green was named Player Development Assistant and scout for the Chicago Bulls.  Just one year later, he was named Team Ambassador.  In his current role, Green serves as a goodwill ambassador and represents the organization at various community functions.

Golfers ready to hit the links at last year's Golf Outing
Photo by: Jasmin Shah
Arlene Flemming, account executive at Cannon Business Solutions and Co-Chair of the golf outing notes, "Ada S. McKinley does so much for the community and this event offers the opportunity to share its values and benefits with others."

Scott A. Welch, senior vice president of USI Midwest, and Event Chair adds, "The Annual Ada S. McKinley Golf Outing is a perfect combination of raising money for a wonderful cause while enjoying a great afternoon away from the office on the Golf Course.  How can you beat that?"

A raffle and silent auction will be held and a large selection of fantastic prizes will be presented.  Last year, we offered a slew of tickets to Chicago sporting events, artwork, club memberships and gift certificates galore.

Questions?  Contact Kikanza Harris at or (312) 385-2013 for sponsorship information or to register for the golf outing, go to

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Recipients of McKinley Gold Medallion for Student Excellence Overcame Tremendous Odds

Three South Side high school graduates were recently honored at the second annual Ada S. McKinley Making College Real Luncheon for their outstanding scholastic achievements and for overcoming tremendous odds through perseverance and determination.

The event was held at the University Club of Chicago and attended by 200 educators, McKinley supporters and Chicago corporate leaders.  The honorees received scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to help pay for the cost of their educations.  Following are brief snippets of their inspiring stories:

Latezia Coleman, award recipient
Photo by Jasmin Shah
Latezia Coleman was placed with the Department of Children and Family Services while she was still a freshman at Wendell Phillips High School because her mother, who was dying of pancreatic cancer, could no longer care for her.  Her aunt tried her best to fill the void.  Unfortunately, she could not replicate the close bond Coleman had with her mother who eventually succumbed to the disease a year later.  The hardships Coleman endured and the loss she experienced could have derailed her pursuit of higher education.  Instead, they made her stronger and more focused toward her long-term goals.  

Today, Colman ranks first in her graduating class with a 3.5 grade point average.  In school, she was a member of the cheerleading squad and of STRIVE (
Strategies To Rejuvenate Interest and Value in Education)a partnership between Youth Guidance, the Chicago Public Schools and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services – which helps wards of the state lead safe and productive lives as they transition to adulthood.

This fall, Coleman will be attending Illinois State University, where she plans to major in journalism.  She hopes to one day write a book that will inspire young people experiencing similar hardships.  “It is my desire to encourage others by showing them that those who face the worst hardships are often times the most resilient and the most determined to succeed,” explained Colman.

Kwanita Woods started out in life without much confidence in her abilities.  “For most of my childhood, I always felt as if I just wasn’t good enough or that there was always someone better than I.  So why even try? You know what I mean?”  For Woods, the road to gaining confidence was a long one.  But it eventually surfaced – little by little – as she began to accomplish more, particularly academically. 
From Left: Al P. Debonnett, Chief Operating Officer,
International CyberBanque, Executive Director George Jones Jr.,
Tony Ziak, award recipient Kwanita Woods, board member
Carol Bell.  Photo by Jasmine Shah.
 Woods, who graduated from Percy L. Julian High School, ranked 10th in her class with a 3.8 grade point average.  She was treasurer of her school’s National Honor Society, a Principal’s Scholar, and a member of the cheerleading squad and the track team.   She will be attending Florida A&M University this fall, with a major in business entrepreneurship.

“Eventually, I would like to start a family business – such as a hair salon.  It is my goal to be a role model for other disenfranchised young men and women going through the Chicago public school system,” said Woods who still cannot believe all that she has accomplished . . . so far.  As she looks toward the future, she beams with pride over something her mother recently said, “I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter.”
Latavia Hill comes from one of the most underserved communities in the city.  For her, the dream of a college education could have been just too impossible to imagine. However, she was instilled – and blessed – with an innate will to succeed.  Said Hill, “Despite my circumstances, I grew up believing that I can accomplish anything if I just worked hard enough.”
From Left: Board member Carol Bell, Assistant Principal Antonio Ross,
 award winner Kwanita Wood, Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III,
UMBC President and Keynote Speaker,
award winner Latezia Coleman, Executive Director George Jones, Jr.
Photo by Jasmin Shah
Hill, who graduated from Hyde Park Career Academy with a 3.8 grade point average, ranked first in her class.  She was part of the International Baccalaureate course of study at her high school and was a member of the Senior Girls Council and SAVE – Students against Violence Everywhere – which is a national organization devoted to school violence prevention.  She plans to become a doctor and will begin her studies at Philander Smith College this fall, majoring in biology.

“I come from a family of 15 brothers and sisters, said Hill.  “Yet, I’m the first in my family to attend college.  It is my hope that all my siblings get the same opportunities I had, persevere and continue with their education through college, and lead productive lives.  For those reasons, it is especially important that I set the example – and the bar – for them.”

*Latavia Hill was unable to attend the Ada S. McKinley Making College Real Luncheon because of a previously scheduled academic event.  Hyde Park Career Academy's Assistant Principal, Antonio Ross accepted the award on her behalf.

200 Educators and Corporate Leaders Turn Out for Second Annual Ada S. McKinley Making College Real Luncheon

Dr. Timothy Knowles, John Dewey Director for
the University of Chicago Urban
Education Institute (UEI), award recipient.
Photo by Jasmin Shah. 
 More than 200 area educators and corporate heads recently came together to be inspired by and to honor three nationally renowned experts in the field of education at the second annual Ada S. McKinley Making College Real Luncheon.

The noon event, held at the University Club of Chicago, was designed to enlighten McKinley supporters and contributors on the latest innovations in education.  In addition, speakers discussed the climate of change and transition for 21st century education, and how these changes will impact the future academic success of today’s students.

Paula Allen-Meares, Ph.D., chancellor at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Freeman A. Hrabowski, Ph.D., president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County; and Timothy Knowles, Ph.D., John Dewey director for the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute, each received the McKinley Gold Medallion for Leadership/Excellence in Education award for their inestimable academic contributions.  Moreover, three students were honored with the McKinley Gold Medallion for Student Excellence award for their high scholastic achievements.  They are:

-Latezia Colman, who will attend Illinois State University and major in journalism
-Latavia Hill, who will begin her studies at Philander Smith College and major in biology
-Kwanita Woods, who will attend Florida A&M University and major in business entrepreneurship
Far Left: East-West University Director of Development, Judy Bacon,
Associate Dean for Development, Zafar Malik, Executive Director,
George Jones, Jr., 
Dr. M Wasiullas Khan, President of East-West University,
Board Member, Carol Bell. Photo Jasmin Shah.

Each of the student honorees received scholarships amounting anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.  If you are interested in become a 2013 Ada S. McKinley Making College Real Luncheon sponsor, please contact Kikanza Harris, special events and stewardship coordinator for Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Inc., at
 312-385-2013 or at