For the past two years, I have been fortunate to serve as a judge for the
final four entries in the Chicago Benefits Award Competition sponsored by
Humana. It is a great experience to review four outstanding grant requests that
have been selected by the Humana staff from the hundreds that have applied. The
good news is that the three other finalists receive $10,000 in addition to the
$100,000 first prize.

In 2003, the judges unanimously awarded first place and the $100,000 to
Working in the Schools (WITS) and its innovative Power Lunch program. For 2004,
first place went to Archeworks, and its initiative to create a innovative
disability awareness program to the Chicago Public Schools. Archeworks created a
great team for the program, which included Joe Press, of the Rehabilitation
Center of Chicago, and the Director of the Spine & Sports Rehabilitation
Center.

From our work with the Office of Rehabilitation Service of the Illinois
Department of Human Services and with the New Horizons Center for the
Developmentally Disabled, we are well aware of how important it is to educate
students about the potential and passion of their disabled fellow students.

Also I had the opportunity this weekend to meet the parents of Cara Dunne
Yates, whose story inspired me when I was the emcee at the Illinois Awards
Ceremony for Employers with great practices of hiring the disabled. Cara, as I
wrote back in October on the Blog, was blind from a young age and went on to
become a champion skier, bicyclist, lawyer and Harvard graduate, all before
succumbing to cancer at the age of 34. This Chicago Benefits Award for 2004 can
help the next Cara Dunne Yates be embraced from an early age at school and to
help create even more great stories of what the disabled can achieve.

 

Archeworks Named 2004 Chicago Benefits Winner

Receives $100,000 grant from Humana for in-school disability awareness
program

Archeworks, a nonprofit, socially conscious alternative design school, will
receive a $100,000 grant as the winner of the second annual Chicago Benefits
award, funded by Humana, one the largest providers of health insurance and
related benefits in the greater Chicago area.

Archeworks will use the grant to introduce an innovative disability
awareness, empowerment and education program for elementary school students in
the Chicago area. The Archeworks Disability Education, Awareness and Inclusion
Project targets children between the ages of 7 and 9, and is designed to break
down stereotypes and foster inclusive attitudes.

“We are extremely grateful to Humana for this generous contribution,” said
Archeworks co-founder Eva Maddox. “This will allow us to transform a bright idea
into reality — a classroom experience that will teach students to look beyond
disabilities and see the abilities in their fellow classmates. With the Chicago
Public Schools and other districts establishing policies to include disabled
students in mainstream classrooms, it’s more important than ever to promote
understanding and acceptance.”

The grant will allow Archeworks to begin producing resource guides for
teachers as well as interactive classroom materials such as toys that teach
Braille. The group has also designed an educational video game, interactive Web
site and books featuring cartoon characters with disabilities. Archeworks will
pilot the program this year in a handful of Chicago classrooms, and hopes more
schools will introduce the program in the 2005-2006 school year. Participants in
Archeworks’ multi-disciplinary post-graduate design school conceived the program
with input from many individuals and organizations in Chicago’s disability
community.

A panel of local judges, comprised of community leaders, public officials and
business representatives, worked with Humana to select Archeworks from among
four finalists in a competition which garnered dozens of entries from area
nonprofit organizations. The other finalists, Advocate Charitable Foundation,
Arts & Business Council of Chicago and Marwen, each will receive a $10,000
grant from Humana. Archeworks and the other finalists received the awards at a
celebratory gala on October 23, 2004 at Chicago’s Peggy Notebaert Nature
Museum.

“I am always impressed with the quality of the entries we receive for Chicago
Benefits and the variety of good work happening in our community,” said Julius
G. Alberico, chief executive officer of Humana’s Illinois market. “Chicago
Benefits demonstrates Humana’s deep commitment to Chicago, its people and the
local organizations that contribute so greatly to the well-being of our
community.”

Each year, Humana’s Chicago Benefits program awards a one-time, $100,000
grant to a different Chicago-based 501(c)(3) organization to benefit the greater
Chicago metropolitan area. Chicago Benefits supports nonprofits in the areas of
education, community development, arts and culture, as well as health and human
services

Tags: , , , , ,