George Lucas, he of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” acclaim, has donated $25 million to After School Matters, a Chicago based organization serving the city’s youth. The gift was announced December 4 in Chicago at an event with Lucas, agency staff and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The organization is chaired by Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, and creates out-of-school opportunities for Chicago’s public school youth in the arts, science, sports, technology or communications. Young people engage in apprenticeship and internship programs that mirror real life experiences.
After School Matters also offers more than 900 paid opportunities every year for instructors as well as contracting with local organizations to develop and deliver programs.
The organization’s youth service delivery model has been recognized both nationally and internationally, but it was forced to discontinue youth participants’ stipends after the recession. This decision had a dramatic impact on programming, often forcing youth to decline participation because they could not afford to pay for transportation or had to work after school.
The gift will be used to reinstate the stipend that After School Matters pays to all 22,000 participating teens, and creates an endowment that will sustain the stipend for the future.
The city of Chicago also announced it will be investing an additional $12 million in the program, which will increase the number of youth the organization is able to serve.