In February 1995, residents of Aurora, IL were coping with two separate tragedies. Teens Moshe Rogers and Armando Mendez, both innocent bystanders, had been shot to death in crimes that occurred three months apart. In an effort to end the violence and honor the victims, the community banded together to form Project Unity—serving as a bridge between local schools, residents, and churches. The organization held the first Back to School Fair, which aimed to ready students from low-income families for the upcoming school year with free supplies, medical exams, and haircuts.
Communities In Schools of Aurora, IL (CIS) has since taken over responsibility for the school fair, one of its many projects to ensure equal footing for all students. Operating inside the former Fox Valley Park District building, the organization partners with more than 65 local social service and nonprofit agencies to help lower student drop-out rates. This it does by empowering students to succeed, whether through tutoring sessions, literacy training, or counseling services.
In 2004, four-year-old Jim Zellmer's life was changed forever when he was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. So his family did something about it. His grandparents owned a farm in Iowa, and Jim himself came up with the idea—what if the Zellmers grew pumpkins and sold them to support their cause? They raised more than $6,000 for diabetes research in their first year, and their harvest festival has grown every year since, featuring everything from food tastings to live music, carriage rides, and a petting zoo.
The Naperville chapter of Operation Snowball, a program of 360 Youth Services, operates under the notion that a simple message can spread and gain force organically through a community. Its programs focus on drug use, problem solving, and peer support for high-school students, both informing and empowering participants to create a change in their schools. Operation Snowball hosts three weekend retreats a year, with 225 teens and 40 adult volunteers in attendance at each. The retreats aim to prevent substance abuse and develop responsible decision-making skills. In small groups, teens participate in workshops and fun activities that range from reliving kindergarten and exploring mazes to dealing with grief. Friday night features a "no-talent" show to break the ice, and sessions of free time help youth learn about each other on their own terms.
See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand at the Groupon Grassroots blog.
Over the course of a two-hour energy assessment, Effortless Efficiency will perform an exhaustive top-to-bottom visual inspection and home assessment. Trained technicians will inspect airflow in each room and examine the permeability of doors, windows, and fireplace flue vents, seeking out dastardly drafts and leaks. Effortless Efficiency energy specialists will also inspect insulation inside attics and crawl spaces, assess the efficiency of all appliances, and provide water-use ratings for toilet, sinks, and showers before monitoring heating and cooling airflow and sitting down with homes' furnaces and AC units to conduct lengthy interviews on their age and efficiency.
Children are best equipped to develop analytical skills for current and future learning between the formative ages of 3.5 and 14. That's why Best Brains sets students off on the right foot by offering focused courses in subjects such as math, English, abacus, and general knowledge. Certified teachers help students develop skills in writing, grammar, critical thinking word problems, and basic computational math, using an abacus counting tool to help develop spatial memory.
Historic Downtown Wheaton embraces many of the boutique gift stores, chic spas, and diverse culinary offerings that populate the historical storefronts of the western suburb’s walkable central shopping district. Before embarking on a day of checking off gift lists or simply sightseeing, slip under the colorful awnings at Front and Hale Streets to sneak a breakfast bite at the Egg Harbor Café, where The Handler sandwich tucks egg, bacon, and cheese onto a gourmet pretzel roll ($8.95). Eco-friendly gift shop It’s Our Earth's “buy recycled” philosophy unfolds space for ample creativity in the form of Snack Journals ($7 each)—fun notebooks reimagined from SpongeBob and Spiderman snack boxes that make the dog eating one's homework a slightly likelier excuse.