Popular Community Bank Foundation Working with Youth Service Project in Chicago

Early this week, representatives of Popular Community Bank met with leaders from the Youth Service Project in Chicago to deliver a grant from the Popular Community Bank Foundation.


Branch Manager Josephine Pacheco (North & Pulaski) presents a check from the Popular Community Bank Foundation to Kelley Schulke, Art Program Coordinator & Kenny Martin-Ocasio, Executive Director of Youth Service Project.

Since 1975, Youth Service Project has worked with families in the greater Humboldt Park community of Chicago. Youth Service Project offers programs in seven core areas: education, recreation, intervention, prevention, arts and culture, community building, and diversion. These programs have presented students with experiences they might not have been afforded otherwise.

“They live in a microcosm; that is their reality,” said Executive Director Kenny Martin-Ocasio. “So when we expose them to something that, to us, might feel so immediate, to them it’s such a grand, memorable experience.”

YSPThe programs at Youth Service Project focus on engaging students, their families and the community at large in activities that promote positive youth development.

Kelley Schulke, Art Program Director, described her vision for the program.

“There are two main things I’m really excited to use this funding for,” said Shulke. “I’ve been trying to push the program into more of a youth-led education center; because of the age range we work with we felt the best way to do that was thru Montessori-style activity centers.”

“These centers are all going to be educational, including manipulatives, a sciences and sensory discovery center, an active play center,” she continued.

According to Schulke, changing students’ perceptions is a key part of her job.

“The kids have an already-defined idea of what art is and who’s an artist,” she said. “I try to expose them to different types of art than they can’t get in the normal classroom… to break down the barrier that ‘I’m not an artist.’”

The funds from the Foundation will afford the students more opportunities.

“This will bolster the arts education because I’ll be able to purchase more – and better – art supplies and specialized materials,” said Schulke.

“This is really exciting,” she said. “I’m going to be able to do so much with the kids.”

The Popular Community Bank Foundation is a wholly employee-funded philanthropic organization. Over the last years, the Popular Community Bank Foundation has granted over $1.5 million dollars to grass-roots organizations sponsored by our employees.

Josephine Pacheco, Branch Manager, is a member of the Board of Directors at Youth Service Project.

For more information about Youth Service Project’s great work, visit their website.

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