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Teen Raising $25,000 For South Side School

By Andrea V. Watson | May 17, 2017 6:35am | Updated on May 19, 2017 11:32am
 Payton College Prep student Eva Lewis helped organize a silent protest in July at Millennium Park.
Payton College Prep student Eva Lewis helped organize a silent protest in July at Millennium Park.
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SOUTH SHORE — Eva Lewis recognizes some of the educational privileges she had growing up, which is why she is raising money for Bouchet Elementary School.

Through the Education Emancipation Campaign she launched, she's aiming to raise $25,000 for the school so every student can have a Chromebook.

She said she was compelled to help the school after recent budget cuts.

"Black and brown schools on the South and West sides of Chicago lack resources compared to schools on the North Side," Lewis posted. "Lack of resources leads to developmental deficiency, and cyclical poverty."

Although the school is performing well, with the highest ranking a school can receive, the predominately African-American school can still use resources. Lewis said there currently are no after-school non-tutoring programs.

 Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson attended a meeting hosted by Youth for Black Lives.
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson attended a meeting hosted by Youth for Black Lives.
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There will be a benefit concert with music and poetry from local young performers Saturday at Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island. Tickets for the 6:30 p.m. show are $25 for adults and $15 for students with a current school ID. Lewis said she really needs the show to sell out. There are a total of 230 tickets. There's also a GoFundMe page for people to donate.

Lewis, 18, grew up in South Shore across the street from Bouchet, but attended Carnegie Elementary School 1414 E. 61st Place. Now a senior, she took on an independent project targeted with the goal of helping a school that she saw as disadvantaged.

"I always had to go out of my neighborhood to get a certain kind of education," Lewis said. "I feel that people should be able to acquire that kind of education in their own neighborhood. You shouldn't have to wake up at 5 a.m. just to go to school."

Ultimately, through her nonprofit, The I Project, she wants to raise money for other Chicago Public Schools.

Parents and students shouldn't have to wait for CPS to help when the community has the power to do something, Lewis said.

"The state hasn't passed a budget for CPS and obviously CPS doesn't do a good job of equitably funding schools," she said. "I feel like the community has so much power to supply the places around us with what they need."

Lewis has been active in community organizing throughout high school. She's made her voice be heard outside Walter Payton's walls.

In January, she and a few classmates hosted an an open forum with Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson. She also helped organize a silent protest against police brutality last year. She even delivered a compelling message about empowering black girls at the United Nations International Day of the Girl event last year.