Contributions can provide link to educational success
University faculty and staff still have time to contribute to the University's Campaign for the United Way/Crusade of Mercy and Other Charities. Contributions may be made to the United Way or any of its agencies, or the donor may specify any other recognized charity as the recipient of a contribution.
One charitable organization that can benefit from specified contributions is the Office of Special Programs (OSP), located in Gates-Blake 113. Under the direction of Larry Hawkins, OSP has offered programs for students from the Chicago Public School system and the Chicago City Colleges since 1968.
Relying on the cooperative efforts and resources of local high schools and the University, OSP identifies and selects students from low-income families who have potential for pursuing a college education. The office helps those students through counseling and guidance, academic classes and tutorial services, testing services, and cultural, social and recreational enrichment. Parent participation in all of the programs involves monthly parent meetings, committee meetings and workshops.
The goal of OSP is to encourage educationally disadvantaged students and help them succeed in high school and college. Hawkins also sees OSP as a forum in which solutions to the problems plaguing Chicago's African-American community can be explored.
"Once we get the students' attention, through sports programs for example, we can get them interested in the other programs that will encourage and increase their academic abilities," he said. "Because we've been here such a long time, the message can get across to students through educators, professionals and especially the family and brothers and sisters of people who have been in the program and who have seen its benefits."
Currently, OSP offers nine different programs:
_ Upward Bound, which offers academic and cultural enrichment, tutoring and recreational activities.
_ Upward Bound Math/Science Priority, which focuses on teaching students to understand, appreciate and develop an enthusiasm for mathematics and science.
_ Pilot Enrichment, which brings students from Hyde Park Career Academy to the University for accelerated classes in literature, writing and mathematics.
_ Institute for Athletics and Education, which supports the educational goals of sports programs in elementary and high schools by providing guidance, counseling and educational support to student-athletes and their parents.
_ Space Explorers, which uses astronomy concepts to teach science and mathematics to high school students who participate in classes conducted by the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Adler Planetarium.
_ Starlab, which provides one-day seminars in astronomy, using Adler Planetarium's portable Starlab planetarium.
_ Young Astronomers Project, which provides elementary school students with intensive summer educational activities in the study of astronomy.
_ Astronomy Clubs, which fosters an interest in mathematics and science for students between the sixth and 12th grades.
_ Summer Program, a six-week program at the University that serves approximately 150 elementary and high school students from more than 20 Chicago-area schools. The program consists of formal classes and tutorials in mathematics, English, Spanish, science and critical thinking.
"We try to find young people who can benefit from our programs and give them a reasonable and safe atmosphere where they can come and learn the basics -- reading, writing and arithmetic," Hawkins said. "But we have to raise the money to keep these programs alive for the students who use them -- and we get students from all over the city. These are hard-working students who often come from tough neighborhoods where peer groups don't always respect academic ambition. But we support these students and they keep coming back for more. We hope people will help us continue to support these students."
To support OSP or any other charity through the Campaign for the United Way/Crusade of Mercy and Other Charities, fill out and return either the yellow or the blue card included in the campaign information sent to all employees. Options for giving include payroll deduction and making a cash contribution.
Pledge cards returned to the Bursar's Office by Friday, Jan. 14, will be included in a raffle drawing for staff and faculty members who make a commitment to the Campaign for the United Way/Crusade of Mercy and Other Charities. Among other prizes, the raffle includes a grand prize of two round-trip tickets to Tampa, Orlando or New York City, courtesy of Kiwi Airlines in conjunction with Midway Travel Service.
Employees who need a pledge card should call Human Resources at 702-9600.
For more information on OSP programs, call 702-8288.