CHICAGO – The Obama Foundation and Chicago Public Schools today announced the winners of the first-ever civic action recognition awards, which recognize students, educators, schools, and partners who have made a powerful impact in their communities and beyond through civic engagement both inside and outside of the classroom. Chicago’s very own Keke Palmer will offer inspirational remarks to open the awards ceremony which brings together 300 attendees to honor finalists and winners. The multifaceted entertainer - actress, singer, host, author and philanthropist - will also congratulate and engage with the award winners during the ceremony.
This recognition is part of the Obama Foundation and Chicago Public Schools’ joint commitment to recognizing and uplifting young Chicagoans and the local organizations and people who are empowering them to make their voices heard and impacting their communities for the better. All winners will receive a Foundation-sponsored grant to support projects that will allow them to elevate their work and positively impact communities across the city of Chicago.
“We are proud to join Chicago Public Schools in honoring the exemplary civic engagement work that goes on every day in our schools and communities,” said the Obama Foundation’s Chief Engagement Officer Michael Strautmanis. “Our mission at the Obama Foundation is to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world, and these students, educators, schools, and organizations are leading the way right here in our own backyard.”
“As part of our shared vision to empower the next generation of young leaders, this recognition honors the students, educators, schools and organizations who make a positive impact in their communities and beyond,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “In partnership with the Obama Foundation, we are building upon Chicago’s rich history of civic activism and further establishing Chicago Public Schools as a national leader in civic education and engagement.”
Winners were selected in four categories that recognized leadership in civic engagement:
- Students who lead impactful projects in their schools that foster civic learning and empower student voice
- Schools that model civic leadership by providing creative and powerful engagement opportunities for students
- Educators who go above and beyond to support the next generation of young leaders
- Community organizations that provide young people opportunities to become civically engaged
“These students, educators, and partners exemplify the goal of civics education by effecting change in their communities while empowering and inspiring others to do the same,” said CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya D. McDade. “Every student in every neighborhood should have an outlet for their voices to be heard, and Chicago Public Schools is committed to building upon our focus on civic education to expand opportunities for our students.”
A committee comprised of civic leaders and education stakeholders selected an elementary school and high school winner for each of the three school-based categories and one community organization who provides opportunities for students across the city.
Youth Impact Award:
This award recognizes student groups who have made a significant impact by addressing important issues in their classroom, school, or community. To be considered for this recognition, student groups had to demonstrate evidence of completing research, engaging community members, and formulating and implementing solutions.
Team TACTICS from Phillips Academy High School is being recognized for its work to foster stronger relationships between the community and law enforcement by developing workshops and a curriculum for their school. The organization was founded two years ago, but recently the students have expanded their focus to address issues connected to school disciplinary practices based on input from their school community. Their work has been shared at the Aspen Ideas Festival as an example of how Chicago youth have driven meaningful and sustainable change within their communities.
- The Ogden-Jenner Student Voice Committee (SVC) is being recognized for its impact on important issues in the school community following the merger of Ogden and Jenner Elementary schools at the beginning of this school year. The group has played an important role in school decision-making and promoting a positive school culture. The SVC has been the representative voice of students on issues such as school climate, the local school council, school-wide planning, and owning the narrative about what the merger has meant to them. The SVC’s central role in school decision-making makes it an exemplar of student voice and action to drive community change.