Breakthrough Trunk Party 2021 college students Garfield Park

Trunk Party 2021

Breakthrough is hosting a Trunk Party on Aug 7th for 60 high school graduates in our community headed off to college. A trunk party is a celebration for someone who is getting ready to head off to college. At the party, guests fill the student’s “trunk” with essentials for college—such as bedding, towels, toiletries, laundry supplies, and more. We are asking our Breakthrough donors and volunteers to help us throw this party and provide the items our students need as they head off to college.

DONATE

You can donate gifts in two ways:

  1. Wishlist on Target: breakthrough.org/target
  2. Wishlist (printable) breakthrough.org/trunk-party-wishlist

Gifts can be delivered or shipped to:

Breakthrough FamilyPlex
C/O Breakthrough's Trunk
3219 W Carroll Ave
Chicago, IL 60624

Donate

 


Trunk Party 2020 3

Trunk Party 2020

Breakthrough is hosting a Trunk Party on Aug 1st for 50 high school graduates in our community headed off to college. A trunk party is a celebration for someone who is getting ready to head off to college. At the party, guests fill the student’s “trunk” with essentials for college—such as bedding, towels, toiletries, laundry supplies, and more. We are asking our Breakthrough donors and volunteers to help us throw this party and provide the items our students need as they head off to college.

DONATE

You can donate gifts in two ways:

  1. Wishlist on Target: breakthrough.org/target
  2. Wishlist (printable): breakthrough.org/trunk-party-wishlist

Gifts can be delivered or shipped to:

Breakthrough FamilyPlex
C/O Breakthrough's Trunk
3219 W Carroll Ave
Chicago, IL 60624

Donate

 

Trunk Party Application

 


young man smiling at Breakthrough Trunk Party

Transitioning to College, Malique Leans on East Garfield Park Roots

Malique Bodie moved around a lot growing up, but he said he always felt connected to East Garfield Park. His family was the first black family to own a house on their block; it's the same neighborhood where they own two homes now. It’s where Malique found his passion for politics and digital media. It’s the neighborhood where his grandmother lives, one of his favorite people.

As he prepared for his first year of college at Brown University, Malique said he recognized he would have to leave his community of support and risk feeling uncomfortable as he adjusted to the new setting. But, he said having his community's support will help him on this journey.

“I consider myself a product of my environment," he said. "I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for the people that helped build me up and raise me. I've learned so much from the people in my neighborhood, and I’m happy that my family has strong roots in this community.”

As a participant in Breakthrough's film club in 2016, Malique helped produce 40 Blocks, an East Garfield Park oral history project in collaboration with the Chicago History Museum. Malique said he enjoyed learning more about the history of his community, especially during Martin Luther King's visits during the civil rights era.

"Working on the film was such a great experience," he said. "Hearing and learning about the community from long-time residents was really cool. And, I felt like learning about MLK and his time in East Garfield Park really meant a lot to me."

Senior Director of the Breakthrough Youth Network Dr. Marcie Curry noted that Malique was an exceptional student in film club and his leadership was instrumental in many of the club's projects.

"Since we first met Malique it was clear he had high expectations for himself and was a dedicated student. His leadership in the Breakthrough film club was crucial in the completion of the 'Forty Blocks' film," she said. "I’ll never forget his poise and confidence as he spoke in front of a large crowd at the documentary release event. Of course, we are thrilled that he has taken his talents to Brown University and know that his future is bright!"

This August, Malique was one of 57 students celebrated at Breakthrough’s annual Trunk Party. At this community-wide event, friends and family of local scholars like Malique are invited to celebrate students' accomplishments. These students have been accepted into universities like the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and DePaul University, with many pursuing STEM-related degrees. At the Trunk Party, the college-bound students received words of encouragement and shopped for donated items like toiletries, school supplies, and linens to outfit their dorms.  

Though it's just been a few weeks since he moved to college, Malique is already feeling the stress of being away from his loved ones. But he says he is constantly reminded just how supported he is through small acts of kindness from people back home and phone calls from family.

"In terms of community support, I’ve experienced support from both individuals and organizations like Breakthrough via advice, trunk parties, and just affirmations and knowing the community is proud of me."


Trunk Party 2019 4

Trunk Party 2019

Breakthrough is hosting a Trunk Party on Aug 3rd for 50 high school graduates in our community headed off to college. A trunk party is a celebration for someone who is getting ready to head off to college. At the party, guests fill the student’s “trunk” with essentials for college—such as bedding, towels, toiletries, laundry supplies, and more. We are asking our Breakthrough donors and volunteers to help us throw this party and provide the items our students need as they head off to college.

DONATE

You can donate gifts in two ways:

  1. Wishlist on Amazon: breakthrough.org/amazon
  2. Wishlist (printable): breakthrough.org/trunk-party-wishlist

Gifts can be delivered or shipped to:

Breakthrough FamilyPlex
C/O Breakthrough's Trunk
3219 W Carroll Ave
Chicago, IL 60624

Donate

 


college student dorm room and Marcie Curry interview on Fox32 Chicago

Breakthrough Trunk Party Supports Local College-bound Students

Breakthrough Trunk Party is supporting local college-bound students.


smiling students who received Breakthrough Alumni Scholarship

Breakthrough Launches Inaugural Alumni Scholarship

A pair of students from the West Side passionate about criminal justice reform are the recipients of Breakthrough’s inaugural Alumni Scholarship. Jessica Daniels and DeAngelo Johnson said the development they experienced in Breakthrough’s Youth Network has helped them become mentors and leaders in their community. 

Jessica, a 20-year-old junior focused on criminal defense law at Howard University, has participated in the BYN since she was young enough to play T-ball. Now, Jessica volunteers at Breakthrough and in the community when she’s home for break. Growing up, she said participating in programming helped her open up, find her voice, and build strong relationships. What she values most about coming back to volunteer at Breakthrough is how relational the experience is for everyone involved. 

“I’ve volunteered in the Women and Men’s Centers, the Fresh Market, as well as the Christmas Store and other seasonal events. For me, I just really appreciate that Breakthrough humanizes people," Jessica said. "Getting to see how it works in other places in Chicago has been very passive, and it’s not as relational. At Breakthrough, it feels like a family and that needs are being met in the most human way possible.”

DeAngelo, a 22-year-old senior at UIC, is a criminology major and is training to become a Chicago police officer. DeAngelo participated in Breakthrough programming like basketball and Bible study, and was a member of the 2007 championship baseball team. He said his support system, from his parents to his mentors, have been instrumental in his success academically and in the community.

"Being able to become mentor has been a blessing. The youth that I work with and the group of people I’m surrounded by push me everyday and make me become a better leader,” DeAngelo said. “One thing I would say [to the youth] is listen to older people that say ‘I was once in your shoes.’ I didn’t pay them much attention, but as I got older, I started to realize what they said was true. The advice they gave was great and it's something I give back to the youth in my life.”

The Breakthrough Alumni Scholarship is awarded to graduating high school seniors or current college students that participated in Breakthrough programming for more than four years. Preferred applicants maintain a 3.0 GPA and are in need of financial relief for their studies. Scholars are granted $5,000 toward tuition, room, and board and may reapply each year of their collegiate careers. 

The scholarship is made possible through a generous, anonymous donor, allowing Breakthrough to support the scholars and leaders of the community.


college bound student smiling and posing

Alexis Channels Community Support Into College Success

COMMUNITY SUPPORT MAKES A DIFFERENCE

College sophomore Alexis Sanders admits she knew little about the West Side of Chicago when she entered high school. One thing that resonated with her rather quickly was its familial culture. She said getting involved with community treasures like Breakthrough, down the street from her alma mater, has helped her expand her network of community support and positioned her for success in college.  

"As compared to everything around it, I feel like [Breakthrough] is like a golden nugget. I feel like its a golden part of East Garfield Park. Everyone here is so friendly and you can come and talk to anyone with any of your problems. I wish more people were able to see or experience a Breakthrough in their neighborhood."

During her transition to high school, Alexis found community in sports and athletic clubs at school and in the community. She joined the Westinghouse girls basketball team and trained in Breakthrough’s athletic programs after school and on the weekends. At Breakthrough, she met adults that were able to supplement what she learned in the classroom with real life experiences, like Chief Program Officer Bill Curry.

“Bill Curry is a really cool person to talk to, and he always goes on these rants about academics where he teaches a lot through the advice he gives,” Alexis said. “Also, I talk to coach Curry about being a political science-economics major and he’s really good to have because he’s done a lot to change the community and I feel like that’s a big part of what I want to do in policy.”

TRUNK PARTY PROVIDES RESOURCES AND CONNECTION

As a first generation college student, Alexis said she needed to lean on the experience of her supporters to navigate transitioning to college. Her friends and teammates told her about Breakthrough’s inaugural community-wide Trunk Party last summer. 

Trunk parties are celebratory events where the network of a graduating student showers the student with gifts, donations, words of affirmation, and sound advice before they head off to college. It was the type of party Alexis didn’t know she needed. 

“I didn't have a personal trunk party and I had no idea what I really needed. I thought that I had a bed, and school supplies and that would be enough. There were so many things available at the Trunk Party, that at the time, I didn’t think I’d need all of it. And then I get to school and I realize how much I needed. ‘Oh I need a shower caddy, I have that,’ or ‘I need new sheets, wait, I have that too.’”

“I feel like if I didn’t do the trunk party, I have no idea what would actually be in my room. I don’t have a full-ride to my school, so it would have been hard for me to furnish my dorm. There were plenty of small things like shampoo and stuff, but even the laundry baskets proved to be useful because I lived on the third floor.”

At the trunk party, students and their families packed the Breakthrough FamilyPlex for a day of celebrating local students’ academic success. A panel of college students and recent grads opened the event. Then, the students were ushered to the back of the gymnasium, where they were able to experience the free shopping-style gift drive and pick up college necessities like trash cans, carpets, and toiletries.

The event space was set up to mimic the design of a networking event so that the students would be encouraged to mingle with guests and get some experience networking outside of their comfort zone.

Aside from the feeling of pride she got from being supported by her growing community, Alexis said the thing she values most from the trunk party is the coat rack she has found plenty of use for in her dorm.

"Didn't think I needed somewhere to hang my coats or my friends’ coats. It’s the smallest thing but I would have never thought to buy that for my room,” she said. “Also, the tide pods. Because you know how laundry can be.”

This summer, Alexis has returned to work at the Bridge Cafe in the FamilyPlex before returning for her second year at Calvin College. The 19-year-old would like to use her passion for local communities to influence policy reform but recognizes that she needs to build skills and connections. She feels safe doing that with her Breakthrough family. 

“Working at the café in Breakthrough… I feel like it’s helping me develop a lot of soft skills and helping me learn how to communicate with people,” Alexis said. I’ve realized, from working here, just how close knit the Breakthrough family is. I just love Breakthrough and everything they do in this community.”

 


woman organizing supplies at Breakthrough Trunk Party

Trunk Party Helps Send 52 Scholars to College

Going off to college is as exciting as it is daunting for some students. While students across the country dread imminent math and science coursework, some are also worried if they’ll have enough printer paper, toilet tissue, and instant ramen to make it through the semester.

For 52 graduating seniors in East Garfield Park, the strain of college life was made lighter at the Breakthrough Trunk Party August 4.

A trunk party is a celebratory event where the network of a graduating student showers the student with gifts, donations, words of affirmation, and sound advice before they head off to college. It is a rite of passage for families that lack the resources to fully fund their child’s college experience. Breakthrough student Bre'jona Hutchinson dreamed up the concept of a community-wide trunk party and Breakthrough staff put her dream into motion.

At the trunk party, students and their families packed the FamilyPlex for a day centered on providing resources that will help power students’ academic success. A panel of college students and recent grads opened the event with advice on how to navigate the collegiate environment. The keynote speaker, Breakthrough Communications Coordinator DeMario Phipps-Smith, spoke about focusing on your journey and the impact of marrying one’s passion and talent.

Then, local students were ushered to the back of the gymnasium, where they were able to select items for their “trunk,” via a completely free shopping-style experience. Hundreds of various college necessities like trash cans, carpets, and shower caddies were donated to Breakthrough totaling $15,000 in donations. Many students said they saw the Trunk Party as a source of inspiration and proof that their community was invested in their academic success.

The location space was set up to mimic the design of a networking event so that the young students would be encouraged to mingle with guests and get some experience connecting with those outside of their support network. The catering for the Trunk Party was provided by Little Goat Diner in the West Loop, which included o'devours, lunch and cupcakes for the attendees.

“The gifts and support that I receive at Breakthrough Trunk Party will not only provide me with the necessities to begin college,” Crystal Montgomery, 19, said. “But these gifts will be a constant reminder of the community of people that are behind me while I continue on this next chapter of my life.”

Breakthrough Senior Director Marcie Curry said the students will face many challenges during their college careers but hopes that they feel supported and inspired by the community to push through the difficult times.

“To be able to provide our future leaders with not only the physical items to transition to college dorm life but also the emotional support to know that their community believes in them was a highlight for me. Leaving East Garfield Park for college is both a blessing and a great challenge. We pray that these college students will always know they have the love and support of their Breakthrough community. The Trunk Party was a tangible way to express that love to them.”

To view a gallery of the Trunk Party photos, click here.