CHICAGO — A program started by a former Chicago Cubs star pitcher is helping mentors become champions for hundreds of middle school students in Chicago.
In 2014, Kerry Wood and his wife Sarah, through the Wood Family Foundation (WFF), founded a program aptly named Pitch In, an after-school mentoring program for middle school students.
The first Pitch-In program was established in North Lawndale, and in the nine years since, the program has expanded to five schools across Chicago, with the newest school in the Inglewood neighborhood.
“The Pitch In leaders talk to us like we are friends,” said Mark Dumas, an eighth-grader at Sumner Science, Math and Science Middle School in Lawndale. “In fifth grade, when I was getting the worst grades and feeling depressed, Mr. Al helped me and encouraged me to keep trying and get better.”
Chicago public school dropout statistics show that middle school is the most important time for support and intervention to prevent students from dropping out, and according to the WFF website, Chicago’s most underserved students. collective, the WFF website states.
Laura Muriello, Pitch In’s executive director, said the impact of the program has been tremendous and provides a sense of fulfillment to the mentors who volunteer through the program, who are making great progress. However, Pitch In said there is always the possibility of hiring more mentors.
“We’re looking for mentors from all walks of life. People who want to come to school once a week, three or four times a month and just want to spend time with the kids,” Muriello said. “[We need] Just be an advocate for students, bring resources and show them there are people in the community who care about their success. ”
Pitch In will hold its annual Storybook Gala next Friday at Morgan Manufacturing. For more information about the celebration, please visit his website at the Wood Family Foundation.