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Breakfast with PEAK: In Sum, Polar Vortex Who?

Two standing ovations. Tears. Laughter. And the profound inspiration that electrifies an audience when true leaders speak from the heart about the Chicago -- and the Chicagoans -- they care about deeply.

That was Breakfast with PEAK. All in ninety minutes. All before work on the most beautiful day yet of 2019.

The first standing ovation came after PEAK scholar Makiya Baskerville took the entire room of PEAK supporters on her four-year journey from completely “intimidated” Holy Trinity High School Freshman -- desperately trying to fly below the radar -- to the remarkably brave, poised, eloquent, humble, and driven college-bound senior she is today.

Makiya perfectly captured the power of mentoring to teach young adults to self-advocate and grow from hardship.

PEAK alum Jerry Silva (‘11) received the second standing ovation. Jerry spoke to how he has seen PEAK save lives, and save his in particular. His personal journey -- from “average student” to “PEAK scholar” to “PEAK mentor -- was recently captured in a Sun-Times article about PEAK. On Tuesday, Jerry elaborated, talking about how his mentor, John Malloy, had molded a baseball-obsessed Freshman into a person who today dedicates his life to working with youth himself. ”What impressed me the most about John was that he even took the time to learn Spanish, so that he could connect with my mother.” he said. “That is one special individual and I am extremely grateful to have him in my life.”

But it is a precious occasion indeed when Chicago leaders can truly inspire us to do better and be better, and give us clear direction as to how to make a difference. We were honored that City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgado and Big Shoulders Fund CEO Josh Hale shared with the PEAK community how to build the kind of opportunities that create an inclusive city for ALL our youth.

The take-away? To paraphrase the conversation, to help youth and adults achieve academically, we have to see them as whole people and not just students. That means working together in partnership passionately. And that is what PEAK does so well.

Over 70% of PEAK mentors participated in the event on Tuesday at Union League Club, by buying a ticket, recruiting others, attending, volunteering...and even speaking from the podium. We are so grateful.

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