After School Matters Gala Celebrates Chicago Teens

The inspiration for After School Matters came about 20 years ago thanks to Maggie Daley,  the late, great former Chicago First Lady, and former Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg who wanted to develop cultural activities for the city’s teenagers.  And the rest, as they say, is history since this much needed program has blossomed and is now one of Chicago's treasures for teens.

For this year's event, more than 300 Chicago teenagers showcased their accomplishments at the After School Matters Annual Gala on September 30.  More than 900 attendees enjoyed a number of teen performances as well as a variety of visual art displays. The event reflected the organization's focus on expanding programming  for teens in the STEAM fields (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).

The gala, held on the Lakeview Terrace and in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, was hosted by Mellody Hobson, chair of After School Matters and president of Ariel Investments, and Dr. Mary Ellen Caron, CEO of After School Matters.  Honorary co-chairs for the evening included Mayor Rahm Emanuel and wife Ms. Amy Rule. Co-chairs were former Mayor Richard M. Daley; Anne Pramaggiore, Patricia Hemingway Hall, George Lucas, Michael Sacks and Paul La Schiazza.

The evening's program included song and dance performances by talented kids from across the city in a variety of After School Matters programs, including the Ray Graham Drumline (Ray Graham Training Center High School), Move Me Soul (Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy), Hi Def Dance Ensemble (Gallery 37 Center for the Arts), a performance of the "Triumphal March" from Aida by the HHW Vocal Arts Ensemble (Gallery 37 Center for the Arts) in honor of Giuseppe Verdi's 200th birthday, and a powerful song from the Tony award-winning musical Ragtime! performed by teens in the Musical Theater Experience program (Gallery 37 Center for the Arts).

All proceeds support After School Matters whose fall program begins October 1.  Teens can search and apply for programs online at

If you enjoy my posts, please subscribe to Candid Candace here on Chicago Now. Type your email address in the box below and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time. You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, my internet show on, "Candid Candace Chicago" and my blog,

Leave a comment