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WXRT Presents Acclaimed Logan Square Mentor Program With $15,000 Check

By Paul Biasco | May 16, 2016 6:04am
 Members of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association accepted a $15,000 check from WXRT Friday morning.
Members of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association accepted a $15,000 check from WXRT Friday morning.
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Logan Square Neighborhood Association

LOGAN SQUARE — A highly acclaimed parent mentor program that is supporting more than 3,100 Logan Square students this year got a big boost from Chicago's music fans.

WXRT-FM (93.1) chose the Logan Square Neighborhood Association's Parent Mentor Program as one of its two recipients of proceeds from sales of its annual "ONXRT: Live from the Archives{" record release.

The radio station presented the organization with a $15,000 check Friday morning.

“We just saw that here is an organization that is really not only strengthening local schools, but also strengthening the community in a very specific way," said Mary Dixon, a news anchor and co-host of the WXRT Morning Show.

One of the reasons the station chose the parent mentor program was over fears that the state budget impasse would impact what has been a hugely successful effort, Dixon said.

The station also presented The Citypak Project with a $15,000 check for similar reasons. That organization provides the homeless with a high-quality backpack that was specially designed to make life on the streets a bit easier.

"In the state budget impasse, services to homeless people in Illinois are particularly affected as well," Dixon said.

The "ONXRT: Live from the Archives" album features live music recorded in Chicago and regularly sells out shortly after its release around the holiday season.

This year's release was the station's 17th.

The $15,000 to the association's nationally-recognized Parent Mentor Program will help pay parents a stipend for assisting teachers in classrooms for two hours a day, five days a week for the entire school year.

The program focuses on supporting pre-k through third-grade students in nine schools in the neighborhood.

Dixon, who along with her colleagues at WXRT chose neighborhood association as a beneficiary, said it was the communal nature of the program that stood out.

"It's the whole 'It takes a village' concept," Dixon said. "Once you are seeing these kids and helping them, you are making the whole neighborhood stronger."

She called the opportunity to help fund the program "like being a fairy godmother," and said the experience is one of her favorite things to do every year.

For many of the students at the participating Logan Square schools, they are gaining literacy in two languages and the extra classroom support can help the students and teachers.

The involvement of the 130 parent mentors this year also helps connect the teachers to the culture of the community.

“The program goes a long way toward breaking down barriers between home community and school," said Bridget Murphy, an education organizer with neighborhood assocation.

The Parent Mentor Program has been operating for 21 years and has been replicated in other communities across the state and country.

There are 16 communities in Illinois that have adopted the program, including 622 parent mentors this year.

Parents are given a $500 stipend at the end of each semester for their work.

"It's hardly anything compared to the huge amount of work that they do," Murphy said.

Parents are assigned to a classroom at a school other than their child's and are mentored by a teacher to work one-on-one with students and in small groups.

The program not only benefits the students and teachers, but has been a path toward a new future for many of the parents who participate.

Some parents have chosen to attend college after their time in the classrooms and others have decided to pursue becoming a teacher, Murphy said.

Much of the funding for the program is provided by a state grant.

"Next year is very uncertain," Murphy said. "Every year we have a big fight on our hands."

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