Spotlight Program


February 2016

Back of the Yards Community Garden

Chicago, Illinois
Casa Romero students and their tutor study plants in the garden

The After-School Program at Casa Romero in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood makes a significant impact through tutoring and mentoring at-risk children and teens. One of the aspects of the program that makes it so uniquely effective is how its leaders build connections in the community—between the young people, families, and neighbors—to make Back of the Yards a safer, more positive and hopeful place to grow up. And Casa Romero’s latest community connection continues this important work.

Last fall, After-School Program leaders connected with teachers at the nearby William H. Seward Communication Arts Academy to enhance Holy Cross’ community garden and turn it into an educational tool; students in the photo above are studying different plants with their Casa Romero tutor. The garden has existed in some form for many years, and its care has always fallen to the parish. Young people in the parish’s many programs have worked in the garden to do basic maintenance; without resources to devote to it, the garden hasn’t lived up to its full potential.

One goal of this new partnership with Seward Academy is to make the garden into a breeding ground and stopping point for Monarch butterflies on their seasonal north/south migrations. Seward’s teachers have completed U.S. Forest Service training on the Monarch, and they bring this knowledge to Holy Cross’ community garden. Leaders from both Seward and Casa Romero plan on the garden being an environmental asset and a teaching resource for their own students as well as for students from all over Chicago.

Peace pole in the garden with students from Casa RomeroYoung Casa Romero students next to the peace pole they helped place in the garden

On October 30, 2015, a group of seventh and eighth graders planted more than 250 donated spring bulbs, so when the long Chicago winter finally ends, Casa Romero and Seward students can resume learning and growing in this vibrant garden surrounded by urban streets.

You can help Casa Romero and the community garden continue to grow. When you give to tCI programs, your dollar goes farther; our programs do so much with so little. A donation of as little as $10 a month can help make it so more young people from the inner city have the opportunity to get their hands dirty and learn about the natural world.

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Learn more about the After-School Program at Casa Romero