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October 18, 2012 | Dawn Rhodes, Chicago Tribune

Group helps At-Risk Kids Further Their Education

When Tashayla Baker started high school at Manley Career Academy High School, she had only vague aspirations for after she graduated.

But after participating in programs with the Umoja Student Development Corp., she gained the tools she needed to plan ahead and continue with her education.  “I didn’t really know I could go to college until I got involved with Umoja,” Baker, 18, a student at Western Illinois University, said last year. “This is like a big network. There were lots of little details I didn’t know about that made the difference.”

Umoja, a not-for-profit organization based at Manley, has partnered with the West Side school since 1997 to help low-income, at-risk students in four areas: college and career preparation; long-term mentoring; academics; and social and emotional support. Umoja has since expanded to nine schools throughout the city, with 500 teachers and more than 9,000 students. The organization is one of many groups in the Chicago area supported by Chicago Tribune Holiday Giving, a campaign of Chicago Tribune Charities, a McCormick Foundation Fund.

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