CHICAGO—The Related Affordable Foundation, Related Midwest and After School Matters, a nonprofit organization that provides life-changing after-school and summer program opportunities to nearly 19,000 Chicago high school teens each year, have announced a new youth-led summer mural project in a continuation of their 10-year partnership.
The After School Matters mural program allows high school students to create murals collaboratively through technical skill development and teamwork. This summer, teens who reside at Related Midwest affordable housing communities will work on mural projects at the in-progress HIRE360 Training & Development Facility in the South Loop, making this a special collaboration as Related Midwest is a co-founder of HIRE360. This year’s mural, titled “Building Chicago Together,” will showcase the strength and skill of Chicago’s workers like those launching their careers or small businesses thanks to HIRE360’s support. The mural was designed by local artist Erick “ROHO” Garcia, who also designed last year’s mural collaboration “Positive Productivity.”
“This mural highlights the attention to detail that workers have when working with their colleagues on a construction site or in a shop class,” said Erick “ROHO” Garcia. “Featured in the middle of the mural are diverse types of Chicago architectural buildings, which reflect the diversity of the city and its different neighborhoods. The color palette of the mural is inspired by the industry, community, HIRE360 colors, as well as the Chicago Flag colors.”
“Related Affordable Foundation is dedicated to providing opportunities that will help enrich lives and strengthen communities,” said Leleah James, Executive Director of Related Affordable Foundation. “We are proud to partner with After School Matters to create murals across the City with the tremendously talented Chicago youth, and help this life-changing organization further their mission to help local teens discover their potential and find their future.”
“We are thrilled that our new training center will be transformed by our city’s youth with this beautiful and inspiring mural,” said Jay Rowell, executive director at HIRE360. “HIRE360 exists to help individuals learn new skills and to create pathways to careers, and this mural will serve as a reminder of the incredible talent and drive in our community—and of the beauty in providing opportunity.”
“Related Midwest has always been, and will remain, committed to the communities we work in,” said Curt Bailey, President of Related Midwest and member of the After School Matters Board of Directors. “This mural project is a reflection of that commitment, showcasing our dedication to both workforce development with HIRE360, and to the youth of Chicago with After School Matters. This project is a perfect culmination of what Related Midwest stands for, and we’re excited to support both the youth creating this artwork and the tradespeople who will take inspiration from the mural each day.”
"I loved being a part of my After School Matters program,” said Cyrus Hernandez-Nunez, an After School Matters participant. “It allowed me to work on this mural and leave my mark around the city and to build my artistic horizons while creating a new community for myself with my peers."
“Building Chicago Together” is the third collaborative project Related Midwest and Related Affordable Foundation has developed with After School Matters. As a summer project, this initiative offers high school students the opportunity to explore and develop their talents through safe and structured activities outside of school. These art exercises help participants gain the expertise and confidence needed to sketch, paint and complete murals, while focusing on teamwork and technical skill development.
This ongoing partnership reiterates Related Midwest and Related Affordable Foundation’s ongoing commitment to youth and workforce development. The Related Affordable Foundation has also collaborated with After School Matters at Parkway Gardens on the Peacemakers program, which empowers Chicago students to fight violence and build community where they live by designing and carrying out service projects to meet their neighbors’ needs.
Tricia Van Horn