"It is easier to build a strong child than to repair a broken man." - Frederick Douglass

Chicago Hope Academy Graduates Entrepenuers and Humanitarians

chicago hope academy

Chicago Hope Academy is a program started by John Vaile, president of Vaile Financial Group, in the North Lawndale neighborhood, with the intent of inspiring teens to remain in their community and open businesses.

Some schools are changing lives and taking their neighborhood back using a combination of education, athletics, and faith. One could proclaim Chicago Hope Academy is a story of redemption, or perhaps just a story of hope.

Bob Muzikowski wanted to buy a school, so he sold his business. Then he asked all of his friends and acquaintances to help him pay the school’s bills. Luckily for Muzikowski, he counted among his friends many influential people.

One person was a former Columbia University classmate; former President Barack Obama. He stopped by the school on his way to McCormick Place before making his 2012 victory speech. During his visit, Obama wanted to shoot some hoops.

Teaching kids to develop their own businesses is the objective. Moreover, they do not have to leave home to find personal success, Vaile proudly explained. Vaile is native of Dixon, Illinois, which likely contributes to his interest in promoting business development in the community.

He fully understands why young people leave home. He explains that going off to college is a good thing, but eventually, people drift away. Once the move happens there is no reason to go back so they stay put outside of the community where they were raised.

Students enrolled in Chicago Hope Academy’s CEO early morning program spent the first half of their school year creating an event business which culminated in a 32-team corporate spike ball tournament. They split the money earned from the event, and each student will use their share of it to launch companies during the second semester.

CEO members secured $3,500 for the event, including from the president of Bill Smith & Associates Inc. He and other executives spent time with the students discussing their jobs. Some of the other guest speakers were Rudy Gonzalez of CIBC bank, Mike Mullins of Mullins Food Products, and wealth adviser Jay Leonard.

Students have visited the Fox Rothschild Law Firm, Cushing digital printers, and Universal Sports Network to learn about various operations and jobs. Some CEO program participants are school athletes and have held meetings, while continuing to learn it is okay to have varied opinions. Over time, their meetings began to be more productive, according to Muzikowski.

Daniela Mancilla, a CEO program student, explains she sees the world from a new perspective. Her family is used to working. She boasts about her mother being a bank manager. Because their family does not know any CEOS, Mancilla finds the program interesting. She has met people who have started with nothing. Mancilla is convinced she can be successful too.

Vaile is also the chairman of Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities program. He explains he was inspired to start the CEO program after seeing its success in Downstate, which is everything south of Chicago and other parts of the Midwest. The ‎Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship created the Chicago Faith Academy CEO program, with their home offices being located in Effingham, Illinois.

Written By Kera Dale and Cathy Milne
Edited by Cathy Milne


WGN 9: Chicago Hope Academy puts faith, belief in service into practice
Chicago Hope Academy: CHICAGO HOPE ACADEMY

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Meridith Canning’s Flickr Page – Used With Permission

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