Woodward Charitable Trust renewed a grant to support the TEAM program at Erie Neighborhood House through the end of the academic year.
The initiative is a key component of the Erie House Youth Options Unlimited (YOU) program and recently earned Gold Star designation from MENTOR Illinois. It pairs 100 students in grades 7 through 12 with volunteer mentors from the community, with whom they meet on a weekly basis during the school year.
TEAM participants receive support with school work, applying for college and navigating the complex world of financial aid and scholarship assistance. Students are also able to participate in job shadowing, workshops and other college and career exploration opportunities through TEAM.
“We want our students to feel empowered and ready to tackle the challenges of a higher education. Ideally they will be able to build a successful career, provide for their families and give back to their communities.”
– Maria Muñoz, Assistant Director of Youth Options Unlimited
The TEAM program has a rich history of empowering students dating back to 1984; Woodward began partnering with TEAM in 2013 and has been a staunch supporter ever since, providing grant funding in addition to supplying a handful of volunteer mentors over the past decade.
Joshua Fulcher, director of Expanded Learning Programs for Children and Youth at Erie House, praises the strong network of volunteer mentors who help establish a baseline for the program’s success.
“Our mentors come here once each week and are fully present for their students, and that kind of attention builds trust,” said Fulcher. “And that trust serves as a foundation for powerful relationships that transform the lives of our youth.”
The TEAM program boasts a 100 percent high school graduation rate and 98 percent college placement rate. Furthermore, 72 percent of TEAM alumni graduate from college within 6 years, far above the national average.
Maria Muñoz oversees the TEAM program as assistant director of Youth Options Unlimited (YOU) and can testify to the skills students gain during their participation at Erie House.
“We want our students to feel empowered and ready to tackle the challenges of a higher education,” said Muñoz. “Ideally they will be able to build a successful career, provide for their families and give back to their communities.”
For more information on the TEAM program at Erie House, please visit eriehouse.org/programs/youth-options-unlimited.