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Embarc Takes Community Social to a New Level at Willis Tower

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Posted  4 months ago

2 MIN READ - One way to foster student success is to dissolve the classroom walls and city barriers. It gives students various social and cultural exposures. Embarc, a three-year program that provides community-focused, experiential learning to low-income Chicago high school students, is doing just that with great strides in the Loop and beyond.

On March 22, Embarc, in collaboration with Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA), brought Chicago Academy High School students to the Loop for Community Social. Designed to help students develop their networking, storytelling, and public speaking skills, the event featured a variety of activities to help participants learn from one another. The students networked with 75 CLA members, business leaders from different industries.

"Chicago Loop Alliance's members went above and beyond to make Embarc students feel welcome," said Kevin D. Strowder, program manager at Embarc. "The conversations were moving and truly embodied the story-sharing experience this event aims to capture. So many attendees joined our students in stepping outside of their comfort zones to learn more about themselves and others."

The Community Social started with speed networking where each student had a one-on-one conversation with a Chicago Loop Alliance member. The room was brimming with high enthusiasm and drive to learn as they mixed and mingled. After warming up to each other, the students broke up into groups and delved into deeper conversations framed by “Life Legacy” questions. All participants shared their background, personal experiences, aspirations, and much more to engage in a meaningful way.

"I really liked Community Social. It helped me improve my social skills," said Anthony Rizkallah, a senior at Chicago Academy High School. "I am an introvert and was surprised to see how well I was talking to these professional people. I feel like I improved a lot with my social skills towards the end. I am very grateful for this experience."

While many share Rizkallah's sentiments, one student had a unique takeaway about her future professional career from the Community Social. Also a senior, Aliana Vazquez said, "I learned that it’s okay not to fully know the course of your career, but you can always follow your passions. I also learned how to connect with individuals with common interests."

After a fruitful, comradery-filled morning, students enjoyed lunch from Dos Toros, the event’s food sponsor, while taking in all the sweeping views of Chicago on the 99th floor of the Willis Tower. The event concluded with a tour of Skydeck, the observation deck located four stories above.

On Thursday, May 16, 2019, Embarc will host Variety Spectacular in celebration of its 9th Anniversary. This anti-gala brings Chicago's flavor, magic, and creative spirit to life. Your attendance helps grow Embarc’s award-winning curriculum, enabling student success through social and cultural learning. Artists, musicians, chefs, and creatives of all kinds will showcase their talents in the distinctive and vibrant style that makes our city great.