Spirit of Giving: Choosing to Participate

Sep. 27, 2012 (CHICAGO)

He found a way to combine the three by starting the Civic Leadership Foundation for students in under-served areas. It's how Howard Rossman shows his "Spirit of Giving."

Fashion 101 is a student-run after-school club for girls at Perspectives Charter School.

"I like fashion. I like to design. So I'll do Fashion 101. That's how I joined," said Brittany Carroll, 15.

Fashion is the hook, but the club serves a greater purpose: mentoring teen girls. Nakeya Boyles, 18, is one of the older students who mentors underclassmen.

"The change in those young women really gave me a greater purpose of being here of staying and working with these young women," said Boyles.

The lessons permeate the group.

"Kids will come in with issues that they have at home and Nakeya will say, 'you should do it this way,' or, 'you should fix it this way,' and even though she's talking to that one person, we all learn something from it," said Carroll.

This example of leadership is exactly what Rossman envisioned when he founded the Civic Leadership Foundation. It provides free teacher training and a curriculum along with financial support to this program and several others across the region.

"The curriculum that we've developed, the training and support that we provide is designed to be able to enable the students to identify their own passions, their own interests and their own concerns about their community and then have the support to be able to execute whatever it is that they feel inspired to do," said Rossman.

Adar Cohen manages programs which encompass about 1,000 students.

"Traditional academics are obviously crucial to student success and to an empowered citizenry, but it's also important that young people increasingly take ownership roles and feel a sense of accountability in their communities and become civically engaged," said Cohen.

Rossman and Cohen are being honored in an exhibit called "Choosing to Participate."

It's presented by the non-profit "Facing History and Ourselves" and will be on display at the Harold Washington Library Center now though November 11th.

The exhibit recognizes local people who are making a difference in their communities.

Choosing to Participate website

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