CHICAGO â€” Along with hundreds of students and families, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool and Chicago Park District CEO Mike Kelly announced today at Austin College and Career Academy that nearly 9,000 elementary students from nearly 200 schools devoted their winter weekends to basketball competitions, signalingÂ a promising start for the program, which is finishing its inaugural season.
Given CPSâ€™ fiscal challenges, CPS and the Park District partnered with private sponsors to offer Chicago students from around the city an opportunity to participate in a unique public-private sports program available to all fifth through eighth grade students.
â€śThis partnership provides a great opportunity for Chicago students to stay active and engaged outside of the classroom,â€ť said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Thanks to this collaboration thousands of CPS students are gaining teamwork and leadership skillsÂ that will serve them on and off the court throughout their lives.”
CPS SCORE! is the official interscholastic league for CPS elementary schools and is the first of its kind in the nation. CPS SCORE! doesnâ€™t cut any student or require tryouts so that it can include all students, regardless of their level of athletic ability.
Before CPS SCORE!, only 10 percent of elementary school students participated in afterschool sports programs. Both tryouts and budget constraints limited the number of students who could participate on teams, with students as young as 11 being cut from a team during school tryouts. CPS SCORE! establishes a minimum playing time requirement to ensure that all team members have the opportunity to practice and play and balances teams competitively.
â€śAll students should be afforded the opportunity to participate in sports programs and we wanted CPS SCORE! to allow students to learn the invaluable lesson of teamwork that will resonate for the rest of their lives,â€ť CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said. â€śWith all the enthusiasm for this program and success of the first season, momentum is growing and we look forward to a successful spring season in March.â€ť
CPS SCORE! is made possible through a range of community and corporate partners, including lead partner BMO Harris, the Chicago Blackhawks, World Sport Chicago, the Children First Fund, and Noah’s Arc Foundation with additional support from Benchmark Construction, Mercy Hospital and Uber. The City of Chicago also appropriated $900,000 from available property tax rebate funding to support the CPS SCORE! program.
Thanks to investments from the partners, all students who participated in the winter season conference received coaches, equipment, uniforms, and transportation to each participating elementary schools free of charge.
Winter season games were held at 24 high schools and local park districts across the city. CPS worked with the Chicago Park District, which recruited and trained coaches to lead 717 student teams that practiced twice a week before or after school in preparation for theÂ SaturdayÂ conference games.Â CPS also invited community members to join parents at theÂ SaturdayÂ all-day contests in order to build stronger relationships between the community and their neighborhood schools
Chicago Park District CEO Mike Kelly said that recreational programs make a significant difference for Chicagoâ€™s youth. Studies show that students who participate in sports demonstrate higher academic performance, stronger attendance rates, and show less behavioral problems than students who arenâ€™t enrolled in a sports program.
â€śEngaging youth through recreational programming is our top priority,” said Kelly. Â “By expanding our efforts to encourage more students to participate in friendly competitions, the Park District aims to help kids build strong character and lead healthy, active lifestyles.â€ť
Sponsors made significant investments in making the programâ€™s inaugural season a success and investing in the future. They underscored their commitment to helping Chicagoâ€™s youngest children through sports:
- Darrel Hackett, president of BMO Private Bank, the lead sponsor: â€śCPS SCORE is an innovative program that teaches students the value of inclusion, teamwork, self-confidence and other essential skills while also providing them with constructive activities after school. BMOÂ is excited to partner with Mayor Emanuel on this great initiative to strengthen our communities and help the youth of Chicago. We love this city and are committed to making it the best place to live, work and play.â€ť
- John McDonough, President & CEO of the Chicago Blackhawks: â€śWe are excited to partner with Chicago Public Schools to extend our reach and commitment to each and every community throughout Chicago. This year alone, through our G.O.A.L. campaign, the Chicago Blackhawks have already impacted close to 100,000 CPS students, throughout 150 schools. Our added investment will not only allow us to extend that reach, but it will also serve as the first step towards integrating these ongoing efforts with the opening of our privately funded $65 million community practice facility later this year. Doing so will help us achieve our goal of growing the game of hockey while helping students stay active during and after school, as well as on weekends.â€ť
- Joakim Noah, NBA player and founder of Noahâ€™s Arc: â€śMy heart is always with the youth of Chicago and I am committed to providing more opportunities for them to stay active and learning through sports. CPS SCORE! does this in a big way, with 10,000 kids playing basketball in the first year. I hope more people stand up and join us in supporting this great program for our kids.â€ť
- Pat Ryan, Chairman of World Sport Chicago: â€śFor the past ten years, World Sport Chicago has been committed to providing and creating opportunities for young Chicagoans regardless of physical or financial ability, to learn and grow through the transformative power of sport. We are excited about this robust partnership with Chicago Public Schools. CPS SCORE! is a tremendous platform to increase access to sports and the lasting life skills that it teaches. We look forward to the growth, impact and success of the program.â€ť
The community-focused approach of CPS SCORE! mobilized CPS high school students to volunteer on Saturdays as scorekeepers, scoreboard operators, site managers, and other crucial roles to ensure that game-day activities were efficient and successful. The student volunteers earned service learning credit toward their 40-hour graduation requirement. Hosting conferences at CPS high schools drives community engagement and allows elementary school parents and students to develop a sense of familiarity with their neighborhood school before transitioning to high school in the coming years.
â€śHelping students thrive means going beyond the basics to create innovative and inclusive spaces for our students, as well as giving them a safe space on weekends,â€ť said Chief Education Officer Janice K. Jackson. â€śThis program brings together students and families from neighboring schools to show community pride and interact in a safe and structured environment with a common goal of giving their students the best educational experience that can be provided.â€ť
CPS SCORE! will kick off its spring season for in March 2017. The featured sports include floor hockey, wrestling, girls soccer, and track and field. Families can visitÂ www.cps.edu/scoreÂ for additional information on the program and learn how to get involved.
Chicago Public Schools serves 381,000 students in 652 schools. It is the nationâ€™s third-largest school district.