Plainfield South High School students were thrilled to join Greater Joliet Area YMCA staff and board members in accepting a $10,000 grant to help fund the Y’s Teen Achievers program. For the third year in a row, Midland States Bank Foundation chose the Y as a recipient of these generous funds through a competitive grant process.
“Teen Achievers is one of our most impactful youth development programs,” said Jim Watts, President and CEO of the Greater Joliet YMCA. “Support from the Midland States Bank Foundation helps expand young people’s horizons through our annual college bus tour, where 60 kids get to visit campuses and interact with leaders among those student bodies. That experience has the power to change the trajectory of their lives.”
In front of a full classroom, Greater Joliet Area YMCA Metro Board Chairman and Midland States Bank Senior Vice President Dan Stevenson presented the check to the students and shared words of support for their bright future. Stevenson encouraged students to take advantage of every opportunity ahead of them because it will shape who they become. The students were receptive and eagerly joined the presentation of the oversized check, with several offers to hold it for the picture.
Teen and Young Adult Advisory Council Chairman and Metro Board member Dr. Larry Wiers was on hand to accept the gift and thank Dan and his bank colleagues Dena Steele and Chris Uram. It was a proud time for Plainfield South High School Principal Bob Yanello who joined in the presentation, representing another pillar in the program partnership.
Teen Achievers is a national college and career readiness program with an emphasis on equipping first-generation college students with the skills and mentorship needed to graduate from high school and pursue higher education. Launched in 2005, the Greater Joliet Area YMCA Teen Achievers program has a 100 percent high school graduation rate and 92 percent of participants are enrolled in college, trade school or military careers within one year of receiving their high school diploma.
Teen Achievers serves approximately 150 students at three area high schools and additional students from Will and Grundy County through workshops and special programs held at the YMCA branches. Programming is free or offered at a modest fee, though no one is turned way for the inability to afford the experience. Contributions from grantors, the community, and the United Way of Will County help underwrite the YMCA’s investment to provide Teen Achievers.
YMCA staff pictured include CEO and President Jim Watts; Teen & Young Adult Advancement Manager Kelsey Kruel; Youth & Family Director Shannon Stawikowski; and Senior Development Director Julie Wilkinson.