2017 College Scholarship Winners

Take a moment to acknowledge the accomplishments of our 2017 College Scholarship recipients and wish them the best of luck on their next journey in life.

CCEA Winners:

Andrea Bossi:

Andrea is a recent high school graduate from Lindblom Math & Science Academy where she graduated with a 4.94 GPA. She was the Secretary of Nation Honor Society and was a member of Fish Spies, a group whose main project involved building a camera apparatus to record first-ever footage of icefish in Antartica. Additionally, she was captain of the Varsity Girls’ Soccer team as well as the Cross Country team and a member of Computational Thinking 4 Girls. 

Her extensive list of academic achievements includes being a National Hispanic Scholar, Illinois State Scholar, AP Scholar, and the NCIWT Award for Aspirations in Computing. She also received the CPS City Science Fair Silver Award and the Ron Brown Scholars Captain.

Andrea has been extremely active in the environmental impact of her community with involvement in Go Green and Hermitage Veterans Garden, creating a community garden in one of Englewood’s food desert pockets. She was involved with the Lindblom Ambassadors program as a student mentor/tutor and Girls in the Game, a workshop designed to teach young girls about body positivity and fun in sports.

Andrea will attend Harvard University this fall.

 

Carolina Cannon:

Carolina is a recent high school graduate from Whitney M. Young Magnet High School where she graduated with a 3.78 GPA. She was involved with Acting for Gender Equality (Co-Founder & President), The Young Company-Theatre Department (Production Stage Manager), Seminary Class President, Unisex Bathroom Advisory Committee, and the Young Feminist Advisory Board.

Carolina’s academic accolades include being a member of National Honor Society, Illinois State Scholar, and the Personal Progress Service Medallion. She also received the Illinois Seal of Biliteracy and the Bishop’s Award for Early-Morning Seminary.

On top of her academic accomplishments and activities, Carolina remains active in her community. Carolina has been involved with the Teen Advisory Board at Ronald McDonald House, Refugee One, The Crib (LGBT+ inclusive homeless shelter), LDS Church Community Service Group, Off the Sidelines Chicago, and as a 2016 Fellow of ANNpower.

Carolina will attend Columbia University this fall.

 

Catherine O'carroll:

Catherine is a recent high school graduate from Lane Technical College Prep High School where she graduated with a 4.94 GPA. Catherine was a member of the National Chinese Honor Society and German International Club, both of which she served as President during her senior year. Furthermore, Catherine was a member of the Swim and Water Polo teams, ACES Mentors, Key Club, and the Science Olympiad.

Among her academic achievements, Catherine was a member of National Honor Society, an Illinois State Scholar, AP Capstone Program Diploma recipient, and Scholastic Art Recipient. She also received the President’s Volunteer Award for her 250+ hours of volunteer service.

Her list of service work includes aiding the Red Moon Theatre Program at After School Matters, being a member of Chicago Scholars, and volunteering with Chinese American Service League (CASL).

Catherine will attend the University of Chicago this fall.

 

Joshua Park:

Joshua is a recent high school graduate from Naperville North High School where he graduated with a 4.21 GPA. He is the president and founder of both the Korean Club and the Yoyo Club. Additionally, Joshua has been involved with Technical Crew for Theatre Productions, Auto Club, Peer Tutoring, High Strung/Camerata Orchestras, as well as being a member of the Tennis and Soccer teams.

During his high school years, Joshua achieved a number of academic highs, including National Honor Society, AP Scholar Award, and Illinois Student Assistance Commission State Scholar. Joshua was also maintained a 4.0 GPA for seven consecutive semesters and participated in over 100 hours of non-National Honor Society sponsored service hours.

In addition to his community service sponsored by National Honor Society, Joshua has volunteered at Camp Pride, a Korean cultural camp for adopted Korean children in Illinois, Itasca Korean Language and Cultural School, and Hanmee Church Youth Group, as part of their welcoming committee and their praise band.

Joshua will attend Wheaton College this fall.

 

Tufano Family Winners:

Marc Johnson:

Marc Johnson is a recent high school graduate from Lyons Township High School where he graduated with a 5.33 GPA. His involvement with extracurriculars includes Math Team (Vice-President), Business Professionals of America (Treasurer), National Honor Society (Co-President), and Math Peer Tutor.

His extensive list of academic achievements includes Cook County Sheriff Youth Medal of Honor, National Merit Finalist, Illinois State Scholar, National Honor Society, AP Scholar with Distinction, Mu Alpha Theta, Spanish Honor Society, and Academic Gold “L” Award, recognizing his 12+ consecutive quarters on the honor roll.

Community involvement has been very important to Marc as seen through his work with Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital, Center for Independence Through Conductive Education, Wellness House, Lyons Township High School Bookstore, and St. John of the Cross Family Festival. Marc’s volunteering hours went above and beyond the minimum requirement for students in National Honor Society.

Marc will attend University of Notre Dame this fall.

 

Delnaz Patel:

Delnaz is a recent high school graduate from University of Chicago Laboratory Schools where she graduated with a 3.97 GPA. She was nominated by fellow students and faculty to serve on the school’s Disciplinary Review Board, acted as the Assistant for the Dean of Students Office, and was a member of the Science Olympiad Team. She was also Head Captain of the Varsity Tennis team.

In addition, Delnaz was an Illinois State Scholar, presented research at the American Clef-Palate Craniofacial Annual Meeting, was a Chicago Area Music Teachers Association Gold Medal Winner, and published scientific research on Cleft Skeletal Asymmetry.

Her contributions to her community include serving as the Junior Board President for Face the Future Foundation, translating medical brochures for Shriner’s Hospital for Children, developing online seminars on social ethics for Baha’i Faith Service Projects, and tutoring for High Jump Chicago.

Delnaz will attend University of Pennsylvania this fall.

 

Margaret Polk:

Margaret is a recent high school graduate from Amos Alonzo Stagg High School where she graduated with a 4.99 GPA. She was a member of Student Ambassadors, Social Action Club, Student Council, and Youth Government. She was also a member of the Volleyball and Soccer teams.

Margaret ranked in the top 1% of her class and was a member of National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, as well as Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society. 

She was also very active in her community through her work with her church. Margaret is part of the leadership team for the youth ministry, which involved two mission trips that she was a part of. Additionally, she spent time volunteering with Palos Community Hospital and helping with various activities around her school.

Margaret will attend Boston College this fall.

B2SI's 2017 Kickoff Event is Biggest Yet

Guests Experience An Evening Full of Inspiration at Galleria Marchetti

On May 4, we came together with a record numbers of guests to celebrate the work of Back 2 School Illinois and to thank all our sponsors, partners, family, and friends who make our work possible. The festivities began with a lovely cocktail reception which allowed for everyone, from this year’s college scholarship winners to our growing list of sponsors, the chance to mingle and get to know one another. 

Our program got underway with emcee Marley Kayden, NBC5 Weekend Traffic Anchor, introducing the string quartet from Chicago High School for the Arts as they welcomed guests with a series of classical tunes. The Chicago High School for the Arts performers were also featured in our dinner break when they played some calming background music for our guests. Next up, Alan Mather, Chief of the Office of College and Career Success of the Chicago Public Schools, took to the stage to accept his 2017 Education Award and gave a powerful speech on the success of Lindblom Math & Science Academy and the hope for CPS. 

We then took guests back to high school as Marley began our pop quiz which tested their knowledge of art, history, literature, math, and science. Later in the program, the Chicago Children’s Museum accepted our second 2017 Education Award of the evening. Board Chair, Jeffery Perry, accepted the award and spoke of the importance of their museum and how they are igniting children’s interest in the arts and creative endeavors. 

This year we had two additional special guests. The first was Principal Aquabah Gonney of Lewis School of Excellence, the 2016 recipient of our “Win School Supplies for an Entire School” Contest. Mrs. Gonney spoke on the struggles that many CPS administrators face as well as how our school supply program positively impacted their school. Michael Hans, former Board Secretary, was acknowledged for being a founding member of Back 2 School Illinois and helping shape the organization. 

Community Currency Exchange Association of Illinois Board President Marty Lieberman and Back 2 School Illinois Board Vice President Jerry Tufano presented checks to the winners of the CCEA and Tufano Family Scholarships. Andrea Bossi, Carolina Cannon, Catherine O’Carroll, and Joshua Park are the recipients of the CCEA Scholarships, and Marc Johnson, Delnaz Patel, and Margaret Polk are the recipients of the Tufano Family Scholarships. 

To round out the evening, Matthew Kurtzman, B2SI’s CEO, addressed our largest crowd yet. Matthew noted the continued success of B2SI and pledged between 35-40,000 kits to be distributed in 2017, surpassing our record of 29,714 kits in 2016.

We thank all those who were able to attend, and we hope to see you next year. 

Exclusive B2SI Interview with CBS 2 Chicago Morning News

The B2SI Mission Gains Further Exposure

On April 30th, CEO Matthew Kurtzman was invited to the WBBM-TV studios for an exclusive interview. Matthew was there to promote the Kickoff Event as well as expand upon our work in providing low-income children in Illinois with school supplies. This interview comes during a time of increased media coverage for our organization. 

Special thanks to Suzanne Le Mignot and the staff at CBS Chicago for this great opportunity.

B2SI Featured on Fox-32 WFLD

CEO Discusses B2SI Mission for Illinois Education

On Easter Sunday, Fox-32 WFLD in downtown Chicago invited CEO Matthew Kurtzman to their studios to discuss our organization, programs and promote our upcoming Kickoff Event. Interviews such as these give us the chance to prove the importance of our programs and how essential they are in filling in the cracks in our system that prevent children from receiving a proper education. 

Special thanks to Sylvia Perez and the staff at Fox-32 WFLD for this exposure! 

First Midwest Bank Kicks Off Our 2017 Build-A-Kit Program

Employees Assembled 100+ Kits at their
Headquarters in Itaska

Our Build-A-Kit program is off to a great start in 2017. On Friday, March 24th, a team of 25 employees from First Midwest Bank got together to assemble our signature B2SI supply kits. This team building activity allowed for the employees to give back to the community with the kits assembled for a distribution to Chicago Public Schools and Department of Family & Support Services. The Treasury Management team at First Midwest Bank was thrilled to partner with B2SI for the Build A Kit project, and said "we are grateful for the opportunity to come together to make a difference in the lives of school children throughout Illinois."

Build-A-Kit is our newest program but it grew 100% since last year and we expect another 100% program growth in 2017. This program is great way for companies to get involved with our cause while increasing our total kits distributed to Illinois schoolchildren. For more information on the program, visit our Build-A-Kit page. 

We have a number of Build-A-Kit Events lined up in the next few months so stay tuned! 

B2SI Sits Down With WCIU-TV's "Now.Chicago"

CEO Matthew Kurtzman Has Exclusive Interview to Discuss How B2SI is Combatting the Issues in Illinois Education

Jon Hansen of Now.Chicago invited Matthew to the WCIU-TV studios to who Back 2 School Illinois is and what the organization's mission is. They discussed everything from what goes inside our kits to how B2SI has grown and adapted since its inception. Watch the full interview below: 

B2SI Partners with Vietnamese Association of Illinois

The Nonprofit Joins our Growing List of
Community Partners

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We are happy to announce that the Vietnamese Association of Illinois (VAI) is joining our list of Back 2 School Community Distribution Partners. The nonprofit, located in the Uptown neighborhood, focuses on serving diverse communities, fostering unity, and promoting Vietnamese American identity. The VAI hopes to eliminate many of the issues that immigrants face. 

Last month, the VAI hosted a giveaway of our signature Back 2 School Illinois supply kits. Those kits were handed out to youths in the organization's Out-of-School Time program which consist mainly of participants from low income and Chicago Housing Authority families. Over 50 youths in this program received the kits during Vietnamese Association's back to school week for the spring semester and many more were given away to families in needs in the community. Tony Pham of Vietnamese Association of Illinois said, "These kits, thanks to Back 2 School Illinois, brought huge smiles to all youths in the program and it lifted a burden on the family."

We look forward to working with the VAI for many years to come.
 

2016 B2SI College Scholarship Winner Update

Harvard Freshman Tells Us About Her Experience Thus Far

Every year at our Kickoff Event we give out five college scholarships ($2,500 each) to graduating high school seniors, courtesy of Community Currency Exchange Association of Illinois (CCEA) and the Tufano family. Among our recipients in 2016 was Lucy Wang, graduating senior from Naperville Central in Naperville, IL.

This past fall Lucy began her undergraduate career at Harvard University. After her first semester, the difference in lifestyle is the most significant change that Lucy has noticed. As a result of less time spent in classes, Lucy has been able to try a number of new things as well as finding the time to be an editor for the undergraduate newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, join the robotics clubs, and work at the Harvard Art Museum. Despite her love for the arts, Lucy’s favorite course thus far is linear algebra, which she says stretched her mind in a way that no other class has done before.

Unfortunately, Lucy was unable to attend our Kickoff Event last May, but she is still extremely honored for the recognition. She has this advice for high school seniors who are still in the college/scholarship search: “Don't be hesitant to recognize that you may not be 100% sure of what you want to do because I know that I didn't. Set your goals high because you never know if you don't try, and keep your mind open.”

B2SI Has Exclusive Interview with 93.9 WLIT's Robin Rock

CEO Matthew Kurtzman Discusses B2SI's Vision and What to Look Forward to With Our Organization 

Robin Rock of 93.9 WLIT-FM had Matthew up to the iHeartRadio studios this week to discuss our organization’s programs and the need for nonprofits such as ours to fill in the cracks in our system the prevent children from getting a proper education.

Listen to the full interview below:

Holiday Distribution with Operation Homefront

Great Lakes Naval Station Receives 200 B2SI Kits

B2SI rounded out a successful year with holiday distributions with our dedicated partner, Operation Homefront. Military families at the Great Lakes Naval Station received our signature kits as well as some household supplies and holiday treats provided by several area companies.   We welcomed Mommy Blogger, Kelly Anderson, as a special volunteer for the event. Kelly is a journalist and contributing writer for several publications in the Chicagoland area. 

We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Kelly, and we cannot wait to continue our partnership with Operation Homefront in 2017.