All-Star Weekend Highlight: Connor Sports Cares

Noah's Arc Foundation is proud to partner with Connor Sports Cares in our mission to help children tap into their unique passions, become more aware and conscious of their ability to make a positive impact on themselves and their community, and ultimately achieve their full potential in all areas of their lives.

This year, Connor Sports Cares brought their impact to All-Star weekend in New Orleans in a big way with a new court dedication, Peace Games tournament, and community work with NBA Cares.

Thanks to Connor Sports for infusing the importance of giving back into all you do. You are the blueprint for how corporate America can make a real and meaningful difference in our communities.

Photo credit: Connor Sports

Connor Sports court dedication at BREC Parks

Connor Sports court dedication at BREC Parks

Peace Games participants pose before engaging in a community discussion with NBA leaders

Peace Games participants pose before engaging in a community discussion with NBA leaders

Peace Games Red Team Coach and Texas Legend Vin Baker calls his first time out

Peace Games Red Team Coach and Texas Legend Vin Baker calls his first time out

Players participate in a peace circle to reflect and carry the good work forward

Players participate in a peace circle to reflect and carry the good work forward

9,000 Chicago Students Finish First Season of Elementary Sports Program

Public-Private Partnerships led by BMO Financial Group Provide Opportunity for Students Across City to Participate in Sports

Families Can Get More Information for Spring Season at www.cps.edu/score.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                
Saturday, February 25, 2017                                                                      

For more information, contact:
CPS Office of Communications
Phone: 773-553-1620

CHICAGO — 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, signaling a promising start for the program, which is finishing its inaugural season.   

Given CPS’ 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. 

“This partnership provides a great opportunity for Chicago students to stay active and engaged outside of the classroom,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "Thanks to this collaboration thousands of CPS students are gaining teamwork and leadership skills 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! doesn’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. 

“All 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,” CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said. “With 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.”

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 the Saturday conference games.  CPS also invited community members to join parents at the Saturday 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 Chicago’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 aren’t enrolled in a sports program.

“Engaging youth through recreational programming is our top priority," said Kelly.  "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.”

Sponsors made significant investments in making the program’s inaugural season a success and investing in the future. They underscored their commitment to helping Chicago’s youngest children through sports:

  • Darrel Hackett, president of BMO Private Bank, the lead sponsor: “CPS 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. BMO 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.”
  • John McDonough, President & CEO of the Chicago Blackhawks: “We 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.”
  •  Joakim Noah, NBA player and founder of Noah’s Arc: “My 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.”
  • Pat Ryan, Chairman of World Sport Chicago: “For 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.”

 
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.
 
“Helping 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,” said Chief Education Officer Janice K. Jackson. “This 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.”
 
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 visit www.cps.edu/score 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 nation’s third-largest school district.

University of Chicago Professors Jens Ludwig & Harold Pollack discuss #CrimeLab research on slowing down to reduce violence on NPR

On the Knife's Edge: Using Therapy To Address Violence Among Teens

The fight was over a pair of gym shoes. One teenager faces years in prison. The other — the 15-year-old grandson of Congressman Danny Davis — is dead.

We often hear stories about murders sparked by trivial disputes. And we also hear the same solutions proposed year after year: harsher punishments, more gun control.

But what if science can help us find new solutions? Can understanding how we make decisions help us prevent these tragedies?

In moments of anger, it can be hard to heed the advice to take a deep breath or count to ten. But public health researcher Harold Pollack says that "regret comes almost as fast as anger," and that five minutes of reflection can make all the difference between a regular life and one behind bars.

This week, Harold Pollack and Jens Ludwig tell us about the research they do at the University of Chicago's Crime Lab. They worked with a program called BAM (Becoming a Man) to look at what happens when teenagers participate in cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT.

We hear from students in the program and examine the results of Pollack and Ludwig's research. They found that changing the way we think can change the way we behave — and changing the way we behave can change our lives. This week, we put that idea to the test.

Hidden Brain is hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced by Maggie Penman, Jennifer Schmidt, Rhaina Cohen, and Renee Klahr. Our intern is Chloe Connelly, and our supervising producer is Tara Boyle. You can follow us on Twitter @hiddenbrain, and listen for Hidden Brain stories each week on your local public radio station.

 

Listen here: http://www.npr.org/2017/02/21/512035150/on-the-knifes-edge-using-therapy-to-address-violence-among-teens

NAF Recognized for High Quality, Data Driven Program by Up2Us Sports

UP2US SPORTS HOST SITES COLLECT HIGH QUALITY DATA

Up2Us Coach host sites participate in data collection to measure the benefits of a coach trained in Sports Based Youth Development for youth health and life skills. Data collection includes youth fitness tests (the PACER) and youth surveys measuring the High Impact Attributes, a group of positive attributes connected to the sport experience and to positive life outcomes.  Up2Us Sports would like to recognize the four Up2Us Coach host sites below for collecting high quality data and achieving great results for their youth!

Starfinder Foundation

Starfinder Foundation is based in Philadelphia and has hosted coaches through Up2Us Sports since 2014.  Starfinder has also hosted an AmeriCorps VISTA and has been active in many Up2Us Sports trainings since 2014.  During the 2015-2016 program year, youth participants who worked with Up2Us Sports coaches had the following results:

  • 86% of participants improved on the PACER
  • The average PACER score improved by 14 laps
  • At the end of the program, 85% of participants were in the Healthy Fitness Zone compared to 64% at the start of the program
  • 87% of youth improved in one or more positive attribute
  • 94% of participants report that they trust their coach
  • 93% of participants report that their coach is a good role model
  • 98% of participants report that the program helps them to be healthy
  • 95% of participants report that the things they learned in the program will help them in their lives

Noah’s Arc Foundation

Noah’s Arc Foundation is based in Chicago and has hosted Up2Us Sports coaches since 2014. During the 2015-2016 program year, youth participants who worked with the Up2Us Sports coach had the following results:

  • 95% of youth participants completed both the baseline and endline PACER tests
  • 78% of youth improved their score by at least one lap
  • At the end of the program, 60% of participants were in the Healthy Fitness Zone compared to 40% at the start of the program
  • 84% of participants  completed both the baseline and the endline survey
  • 75% of younger participants and 100% of older participants improved in one or more positive attribute
  • 88% of younger participants reported that they trust their coach and that the program helps them to be healthy
  • 89% of older participants report that the things they learned in the program will help them in their lives

Abramson Sci Academy of the Collegiate Academies Charter School Network

Collegiate Academies is based in New Orleans and has hosted Up2Us Sports coaches since 2012. During the 2015-2016 program year, Abramson Sci Academy had two Up2Us Sports coaches, one who was a returning Up2Us Sports coach. Youth participants who worked with Up2Us Sports coaches had the following results:

  • 83% of participants improved in the PACER by at least one lap
  • At the end of the program, 33% of participants were in the Healthy Fitness Zone compared to 20% at the start of the program
  • 81% of youth improved in one or more positive attribute
  • 100% of participants report that they trust their coach and that their coach is a good role model
  • 98% of participants reported that they go to their coach for help or advice
  • 96% of participants report that the things they learned in the program will help them in their lives and help them to be healthy.

New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School

Sci High is based in New Orleans and has hosted Up2Us Sports coaches since 2012. During the 2015-2016 program year, Sci High hosted one returning Up2Us Sports coach. Youth participants who worked with an Up2Us Sports coach had the following results:

  • The Up2Us Sports coach served 100% female youth
  • 71% of youth participants completed both the baseline and endline PACER tests
  • 84% of youth improved in the PACER by at least one lap
  • The average PACER score improved by 8 laps
  • 82% of youth improved in one or more positive attribute
  • 94% of participants report that they trust their coach and that their coach is a good role model
  • 91% of participants report that the things they learned in the program will help them in their lives

Noah's Arc Executive Director Announcement

We are pleased to announce the hiring of Anna-Claire Whitehead as the new Executive Director of Noah’s Arc Foundation. Based in Chicago, NAF is deeply committed to continuing its work to bring people together and build positivity throughout Chicago and this move solidifies that commitment. As Executive Director, Anna-Claire will work closely with me to expand NAF’s programs and partnerships in support of our youth and movement for peace and positive change.

Prior to joining the NAF, Anna-Claire served as Managing Director of External Affairs for Spark in Chicago where two of her program participants created the Shoot Hoops Not Guns campaign in support of NAF. After witnessing the youth take the #RockYourDrop pledge and seeing how inspired they were by the moment, she felt deeply connected to NAF’s mission which led to her joining the team. She began her career in Washington, DC, working closely with national, political and business leaders. 

Anna-Claire is a native Washingtonian with deep family ties to New York. She is a graduate of James Madison University in Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and is completing a Business Foundations Specialization from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.