Breakthrough Trunk Party 2021 college students Garfield Park

Trunk Party 2021

Breakthrough is hosting a Trunk Party on Aug 7th 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

 


remote learning breakthrough

Community Groups Offer Remote Learning Support to Families in Need

Breakthrough’s after-school program has been expanded to include daytime remote learning support for 60 students.


Trunk Party 2020 1

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

 


Trunk Party 2019 2

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.


woman smiling in front of bulletin board with positive words

Why Leveling Students’ Playing Field Motivates Ciera’s Passion for Education

Growing up, Ciera didn’t have much, but her parents strived to ensure she was exposed to as much as possible. She was a star lacrosse player, played musical instruments, joined numerous student leadership clubs like Future Business Leaders of America, and went to church each Sunday.

Her parents were the biggest drivers of her success, supporting Ciera’s development in anyway they could and also challenging her to be excellent in all she did. Ciera’s family values placed an emphasis on education, and her parents did their best to model and exemplify their expectations for her.

Ciera’s mother demonstrated a commitment to education by finishing her undergraduate degree with Ciera in high school and her brother finishing up elementary school. Their mother graduated with her master’s degree in 2012 while Ciera finished undergrad, which she completed in 2014.

“I think my mom has set one of the best examples of being a black woman in a predominately white setting,” she said. “My mom is a perfectionist, and one of the most awesome people I know. She’s the person I try to model myself after most.”

Ciera’s father was a Philadelphia fireman who died in the line of duty. His vision for Ciera was for her to thrive academically because of the climate of competition in America’s workforce. He preached to her the importance of “doing the best you can, at all times,” because of the challenges he feared she would face as a black woman.

Often times, Ciera was the only black girl in social settings and at school growing up in the suburbs. She said it was difficult to find support groups and mentors because of a lack of diversity in some of the communities she’s lived in, and it motivates the work she does.

Upon graduating from the University of Maryland as an English major, Ciera came to Chicago to serve in the Mission Year program. It was as an assistant teacher in the Breakthrough Youth Network where she discovered her love for educating youth.

“Being able to walk alongside the youth and encourage them in ways that they don’t get in their schools was so fun to me,” Ciera said. “Getting to know their families, getting to be a part of their lives outside of the classroom, felt very natural.”

In her work at Breakthrough, Ciera has been a fervent advocate for children in Chicago to have the same opportunities to excel socially and academically as she did. “I believe youth development and education should go hand-in-hand. I’m passionate about that, and I’m passionate about seeing kids holistically developed in school settings because they are there for a majority of the day…Not being developed [holistically] in the place they spend most of their time, is detrimental to them.”

Ciera has worked as an assistant, an arts and science teacher, and as a lead teacher within the Nettie Bailey Student Achievement Program while at Breakthrough. She said her next endeavor will likely include working more with parents to create more dynamic partnerships to support children’s holistic development.

“One of my lead duties was working alongside middle school kids who were applying to high schools in CPS, which can be a complicated process,” Ciera said. “To be able to walk alongside them and the parents to advocate for them into the schools they wanted or schools that would be the right fit was really enjoyable to me.”

Ultimately, Ciera wants to open an educational center for children in underserved communities to support their needs with resources they may not have available in their schools.

“When I read my old college journals, I wrote down the dreams I had about opening my own school. It really began with wanting to create safe spaces for kids. And when I think about my passion for education, it goes back to my brother. We are 10 years apart, but we are like best friends. He had experiences similar to mine, being one of the only black boys in his schools.”

“I just want better spaces for our black kids; they deserve that,” she said.

This fall, Ciera took a break from her teaching duties to return to school to get an advanced degree from DePaul University in school counseling. Ideally, she’d like to stand on the frontline of fighting for equity in the education of minority children.

“Going back to school at DePaul is kind of that first step for me in opening my own school,” she said. “I’ve been in teaching for some time now, but I want to get into administration. My hope is that I can get into education policy and advocacy.”

She’s also a member of the latest cohort of the Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps, which focuses on developing civil innovators working on transformative change in our communities. Her project, titled Lift Every Voice, centers on the arts with a focus on creative writing enrichment.

“I want kids to be able to tell their own stories without needing them to be told by the media,” she said. “There’s so much emphasis on STEM, that the arts are being lost --- and as an English major, that’s important to me.”


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.


students touring arts center while on business tour

Breakthrough Students Experience Chicago

Breakthrough students are on the move! Through the London Johnson Arts and Technology Academy, students had the chance to explore Chicago through culinary arts and ceramics with fields trips to Inspiration Kitchens and the Lillstreet Art Center.

Breakthrough’s Intermediate Cooking class visited Inspiration Kitchens and heard firsthand from the culinary staff about working in a restaurant. Students were treated to food from the kitchen and recipes to take with them and try at Breakthrough. One student shared that she had never thought about culinary arts as a career path, but now it is in her top five career dreams. Inspiration Kitchens generously gave each student a gift certificate to take their family to the restaurant.

Breakthrough's ceramics program recently visited the Uptown-based Lillstreet Art Center, where they experienced one of the largest ceramics communities in the country. The ceramic students loved being part of the state-of-the-art facilities and checking out the student-created pieces.

We can’t wait to see what these students create next!