METROsquash was founded in 2005 as an after-school, weekend, and summer program for under-served students from low-income families in chronically under performing Chicago Public Schools. METROsquash is a holistic, disciplined and selective program whose mission is to use academics, squash, mentoring, cultural enrichment, and community service to empower Chicago Public School students on Chicago's South Side to realize their full academic, athletic, and personal potential.
METROsquash programming fosters self-confidence, independence, and instrumental academic training to prepare students to enter their best matched high schools and to lead them to and through college. This fall, METROsquash has 85 students in 5th through 12th grade enrolled in the program full time, and expects to have an additional 65 students during summer programming. Each METROsquash student spends ten hours in the program per week in equal parts squash instruction and academic tutoring, and are able to excel in a safe, chaperoned environment where they build lasting relationships with new peers and responsible adult role models. The combination of academic work and squash instruction gives students a well-rounded, healthy, nurturing environment for them to excel in the classroom, on the court, and by teaching life skills.
METROsquash middle school participants are recruited from five underserved South Side Chicago Public Schools: Sexton Elementary, Kozminski Community Academy, Fiske Elementary School, Ariel Community Academy, and The University of Chicago-Woodlawn Charter School. Most of our students come from low or extremely low income households and live in neighborhoods surrounding the program: North Lawndale, Washington Park, Kenwood, Hyde Park, Englewood, South Shore, and Bronzeville.
Since its inception, METROsquash has successfully helped 62 students enroll in their best fit high schools, including top boarding schools, parochial schools, and charter schools both locally and across the country, and obtain over $1,000,000 in scholarships for private schools and summer programming. This school year, METROsquash introduces its first graduating senior class, with 100% of the students on track to four year colleges, many of which will be the first in their family. So far this year, METROsquash has had all eight students gain acceptance to at least one college, and they continue to hear back from schools each week. In the High School Prep and College Prep Programs, METROsquash picks up where schools leave off, helping students and families understand the complexities of the application process, identify a range of options, complete financial aid and scholarship applications, attend college based summer programs, prepare for standardized tests, and ultimately get into and through their best fit high schools and colleges. Squash proficiency learned at METROsquash gives students the extra edge to stand out among a pool of applicants, and Life Skills sessions help students gain the necessary skills to become and remain successful in both the academic and social realm. Life Skills sessions help students gain the necessary skills to become and remain successful in both the academic and social realm.
As a sixth grader at one of METROsquash's original partner schools, Precious Rooks joined METROsquash's first class. Since then, she has become a leader of the program, captaining our squash team on the court and representing success in the classroom. It did not come easily: in middle school, Precious's foster mother passed away. She attended an under-performing middle school and was cycled into a local high school. As she struggled with the upheaval in her life, Precious made a commitment to her future. She saw that her high school was not challenging her enough and approached METROsquash, asking for assistance in transferring to a new charter which had opened. She started 10th grade at Gary Comer College Prep. The environment was challenging, with a more rigorous curriculum and strict discipline policy. Each year, Precious grew and improved academically. Through METROsquash, she applied to and won scholarships to Northwestern University's Center for Talent Development and the John Marshall School of Law's Summer Legal Institute. Summers were spent on college campuses, attending academic programs or working as a counselor at METROsquash's enrichment camp. Now a senior, she is being actively recruited by college squash programs and has been accepted to several schools already. Precious is a finalist for the Posse Scholarship partnered with Connecticut College and is well on her way to being a successful college student.