In February 2015 The Highland Park Community Foundation offered a proactive grant challenge to Family Service to work together to raise $27,000 to increase professional staff capacity in Family Service’s Latino Youth Initiative (LYI) at Highland Park High School. The Foundation agreed to provide half the required funding if Family Service could raise the balance. On June 25, representatives of both groups and contributing donors will meet to celebrate successful completion of the challenge—in just three months!
As a result, Family Service will begin the 2015-2016 school year with the capacity to strengthen individual academic and post-graduate planning support for Latino students at Highland Park High School. Students in LYI are the first in their families to go to college. The program is the capstone in the Family Service Latino Educational Continuum, which begins at age 6 at Nuestro Center and extends through middle school at Northwood Junior High School to Highland Park High School.
LYI provides professional support to foster a path to success that includes high school graduation, students’ post-graduation plans, college acceptance, and successful transition to college. LYI is unique among area Latino educational support programs in offering a professional, holistic, bilingual/bicultural academic and family support program, including bilingual/bicultural counseling; case-management and referrals to enhance financial sustainability; and health-and-wellness programs.
Highland Park High School Principal Dr. Tom Koulentes is proud of LYI. “The Latino Youth Initiative (LYI) is an outstanding example of how schools and community partners can work together to combine resources to maximize the support of our young people,” he said. “In an era of shrinking financial resources, this type of creative partnership enables our organizations to work together to serve our families at levels of excellence much greater than any of us could accomplish working alone.”
Dr. Koulentes continued, “I am tremendously grateful for the partnership with Family Service and the support of the HP Community Foundation, and I am absolutely thrilled that the results of this partnership are yielding 100% college acceptance and matriculation for the program participants—those results are outstanding and well exceed national trends.”
In fact, the past four years, all LYI seniors have achieved the goals of the program. In the Class of 2015, six of seven seniors received early-acceptance to college, all graduated from high school in May, and all will enter college this fall with scholarships.
Highland Park High School is an important partner of LYI, including arranging and paying for teachers to provide homework assistance and providing in-kind program facilities. Many other partners also support LYI.
The mission of the Highland Park Community Foundation is to meet the unmet social service, cultural, education and environment needs of Highland Park and Highwood, and to promote philanthropy in the community. The mission of Family Service is to strengthen families through counseling, education and related support services, and to help individuals succeed in school, at work, in relationships and within the community. To learn more about the Foundation, visit www.hpcommunityfoundation.com. To learn more about Family Service, visit www.famservice.org.
– Submitted by Family Service of Highland Park and Highwood