The Leaders Program, a mentoring program for Chicago high school students, eliminated because of budget crisis

August 31, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Gads Hill, a family resource center established in 1898, serves families in the Southwest Side neighborhoods of Chicago. They offer school-aged children the support and recreation they need.

Friday, the children played all sorts of outside games in the blocked off street in the Pilsen community.

The program serves 70 high school students who are at risk of being victims to violent crime.

"I was always in trouble, and they rescued me," said Gads Hill student Jose Estrada. "They have been my second family."

"It has opened my eyes, and we have met a lot of people that can help me in the future," said Gads Hill student Esteban Salazar.

The program is closing because of CPS cutbacks.

"Our students went to a CPS board meeting and presented testimony that the program is successful, and it did not matter, it was just about balancing the budget," said Gads Hill director Maricela Garcia.

"It is kind of horrible, because we all look up to our mentor," said student Jacqueline Cruz. "If we had a problem, we c

The leadership program has a number of mentors that give advice to the students and tutor them.

On the program's final day, students met with mentors for the last time.

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