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After School Matters Announces First Teen Center in Belmont Cragin

By: Carl Vogel
Published: March 17, 2016

After School Matters (ASM) first neighborhood-based teen center – to be located in the Belmont Cragin community – will open later this year. The facility, announced at a press conference with Mayor Rahm Emanuel on March 2, will provide ASM’s signature after-school and summer programs for more than 1,000 teenagers annually.

That’s great news for neighborhood youth. Through the soon-to-be-released Belmont Cragin quality-of-life plan, residents and community groups identified a need for more structured opportunities after school or on weekends for teens – a third of the neighborhood’s residents are under the age of 19. ASM, for example, currently reaches 170 teens in Belmont Cragin each year through programming at nearby high schools, parks and a number of community organizations.

“Thanks to this tremendous gift, After School Matters will be able to make a significant investment in young people right in the heart of Belmont Cragin – one of Chicago’s fastest-growing, yet under-resourced communities,” said Mary Ellen Caron, After School Matters' chief executive officer.

Representatives from ASM met last year with LISC Chicago and the Northwest Side Housing Center (NWSHC), which is leading the planning process in Belmont Cragin, to discuss the need for more local youth programs, and attended one of the public meetings for the quality-of-life plan as well.

“It’s a perfect example of partnership and mutual interest,” said James Rudyk, Jr., NWSHC’s executive director. “They want to increase their presence on the Northwest Side and with Latino teens in the area, and we’ve been talking about how Belmont Cragin needs more programs and opportunities for our youth.”

The 36,000-square-foot building at 3435 N. Cicero Ave. was donated by the Lutz Family Foundation to ASM, which plans to have programs running in the facility by this fall. ASM says it would like to use the facility as a model for more teen centers around the city.

Jake Ament, LISC Chicago program officer for Belmont Cragin, says the ASM center is a great example of how a community quality-of-life plan can have an impact.

“Planning is about more than research and maps,” he said. “It’s also about taking action. Belmont Cragin residents and NWSHC made their needs known, After School Matters officials came and heard them, and now they will serve six times as many teens with a permanent location in the neighborhood. I can’t wait to see what happens when they have the final quality-of-life plan in hand.”

Update: On Tuesday, April 19th, After School Matters will host a presentation to inform the community about the organization’s plans for a new teen-dedicated programming facility in Belmont Cragin. The presentation will provide an overview of programs offered by After School Matters citywide, including in nearby high schools. For more information about After School Matters, you can visit

When: Tuesday, April 19th, 6 p.m.-7 p.m.

Where: Kilbourn Park 3501 N. Kilbourn Park Ave

Who: After School Matters

Posted in Areas of Work, Neighborhoods

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Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.

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