Expanded Learning Program Staff Members at Erie House Receive Honors

September 27, 2016 | Chicago, IL

Maria Muñoz and Joshua Fulcher

Joshua Fulcher and Maria Munoz look forward to opportunities for growth as they are recognized for their outstanding work with Erie House youth. FILE PHOTOS

A pair of staff members who work with children and youth at Erie Neighborhood House will receive honors and simultaneously benefit from professional development opportunities this fall.

Joshua Fulcher, director of the Expanded Learning Programs for Children and Youth, joined a cohort with 28 fellow nonprofit professionals in the Allstate Foundation Greater Good Nonprofit Leaders Program earlier this month. The year-long Allstate Foundation program is in partnership with the Center for Nonprofit Management at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, pairing in-person academic sessions led by Kellogg faculty with remote one-on-one executive coaching. Fulcher will also receive a $2500 grant toward continued learning and professional growth.

Meanwhile, Erie House academic programs coordinator Maria Muñoz will be presented with the Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award from the Bright Promises Foundation at a ceremony in October. Her award includes a $5000 stipend to be applied toward professional development.

“These honors are well-deserved,” says Erie House executive director Kirstin Chernawsky. “Both Joshua and Maria do outstanding work with our children and youth, and we’re excited they will each receive these opportunities to continue growing professionally.”

The youth component of the Expanded Learning Programs, Youth Options Unlimited (YOU), aims to empower local youth ages 12 to 18 with the tools and resources they need to succeed. YOU students find access to tutoring and academic support, STEM workshops and activities, an innovative media arts program and counseling services.

This diverse array of services has produced results. Seventy-seven percent of program participants maintained or improved their grade point average this past academic year, and 93 percent of high school youth in the program earned a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Its flagship TEAM mentoring program has graduated 100 percent of high school graduation rate for 19 years running , placing 98 percent of those students in college over that same period of time.

Fulcher, who has worked in the YOU program at Erie House since 2007, is proud of these results and is quick to credit his staff with carrying out program objectives.

The Greater Good Nonprofit Leaders Program Class of 2017 convened for its first of four in-person sessions this month. Topics to be explored include teamwork, giving and receiving feedback, components of effective leadership, and discerning vocation.

In particular, Fulcher is eager to learn from faculty at the Kellogg School of Management. “The expertise and insight on the subject of leadership that they’re bringing to the table is impressive,” he says. “I look forward to learning ways in which I can grow in order to help make our team at Erie House even more effective.”

For Muñoz, the Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award is validation for the work she has done over the past five years at Erie House. “It shows that what I’m doing here for the kids is paying off,” she says, reflecting on the many students—undocumented youth, aspiring first-generation college students and the like—who have entered her program and in turn achieved success. “I get teary-eyed whenever I hear about a student getting a scholarship or gaining acceptance into a college or university,” says Muñoz.

Muñoz plans to apply the $5,000 grant toward a graduate program in educational leadership at Northeastern Illinois University which will commence in the coming year.


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