Industry, professions, private citizens urged to take the “A-Team Challenge”
KANKAKEE, IL – December 4, 2014 – Representatives from academia, industry, and community and economic development gathered today at Kankakee High School to mark the formal kickoff of the countywide workforce development initiative Coalition for Hope and Excellence in Education (CHEE). Joining District 111 School Superintendent Dr. Genevra Walters and Kankakee Community College President Dr. John Avendano were industry heavyweights BASF and Dow Chemical, who presented financial contributions in support of the CHEE effort, which aims to increase high school graduation rates and equip students for local career opportunities in advanced manufacturing, health care and other high-skilled sectors.
BASF Operational Excellence/Development Manager Andy Smith and Dow Supply Chain Material Scheduler Sonya Smith on behalf of their employers contributed sums of $5,000 each as year-one pledges to the CHEE’s “A-Team Challenge,” a campaign supporting a comprehensive and integrated program of mentoring, tutoring, prevention programs, job shadowing, internships, worksite tours, technology support and like community-based support for Kankakee County’s high school student population.
The “A-Team Challenge” aims to raise $1 million over four years to fund the CHEE. Program leadership will begin immediate outreach to local industry, the professions, civic organizations and private citizens in an appeal for support. Donations are being accepted through CHEE’s partner, the Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley. http://www.endowthefuture.org/donate.php
“BASF is proud to partner with the Coalition for Hope and Excellence in Education to ensure a long-term sustainable workforce for Kankakee County,” remarked BASF Site Director Judy Brinkman in a prepared statement. “We believe that an investment in the youth of today is an investment in the long-term success of BASF.”
“Dow is proud to partner with CHEE, a catalyst to increase graduation rates in Kankakee County and prepare a college- and career-ready skilled work force,” added Dow Site Leader Daoran Alabin in a prepared statement. “The community’s success is our success. The young people’s future is our future.”
On hand to accept the donations were CHEE program principals Economic Alliance President/CEO Mike Van Mill, Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley Executive Director Nicole Smolkovich and CHEE Executive Director Dr. Susan Emmerich. The CHEE initiative was established by the Economic Alliance in partnership with the Community Foundation in response to feedback from the area’s rapidly expanding top employer base and in accordance with Kankakee County’s 2014-19 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.
“The leadership of Kankakee County across the board clearly cares about the well-being of our youth,” noted Dr. Emmerich, who in developing the CHEE program has spent hundreds of hours meeting with leaders of key community institutions. “There is a definite understanding that an investment in the youth of today will reap quantifiable rewards in the years to come.
“CHEE’s ‘A-Team Challenge’ is a way for industry, our professional community, civic organizations and private citizens to act on that awareness.”
Among local institutions that have pledged to serve in an advisory capacity to the CHEE are Kankakee Community College, Riverside Healthcare, Presence St. Mary’s Hospital and the Kankakee Chapter of the NAACP.
A collaborative initiative launched in 2014 and administered by the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County and Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley, the mission of the Coalition for Hope and Excellence in Education is to encourage student persistence and increase graduation rates in Kankakee County through the efforts of a broad coalition of community leaders and organizations. Inquiries about the CHEE initiative and “A-Team Challenge” may be directed to Dr. Susan Emmerich, firstname.lastname@example.org or 708.717.4648.
The Economic Alliance of Kankakee County is a public-private partnership that works to create jobs and expand the economic base by improving the local business climate. For more information, visit kankakeecountyed.org or phone 815.935.1177.
The purpose of the Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley is to enhance the quality of life in Greater Kankakee County and adjacent areas today and for future generations. A vehicle for charitable giving that builds over time, the Community Foundation brings together individuals and organizations to identify and understand community issues and grant-making opportunities. For more information, visit endowthefuture.org.