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.