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Coffee with PEAK: Celebrating Mentor-Scholar Triumphs

It can be a challenge to bring to the eyes and ears of you, our supporters, a composite picture of the many private moments of engagement that are the building blocks of the PEAK program’s success. No one does it better than our scholars. Every year our community looks forward to a graduating scholar’s keynote at our annual fundraiser as they tell our story through their own.

While in recent years our annual Breakfast with PEAK has been held downtown at the Union League Club of Chicago, we have taken this year of remote work and learning as an opportunity to experiment with online events. This year’s Coffee with PEAK was held live on Zoom, offering attendees a moment of inspiration and authentic connection at the start of the workday as they heard from PEAK scholars, alumni, and longtime volunteers.

“PEAK is really a community of support, and it was so great to feel that on Zoom together even while we had to stay virtual this year,” said Elizabeth McCreless, PEAK Associate Director of Development and Coffee with PEAK project lead.

Senior Alejandra Sotelo’s grace and confidence were a world away from the shyness of the freshman we interviewed just four years ago. Perhaps more magical than her story is the very real substance and work ethic behind her polished presentation. Alejandra was recently accepted to Loyola and will be studying pre-law this fall after her last summer as a caddie at Glen View Club, where she began 3 years ago as a part of Western Golf Academy’s Caddie Academy.

Coffee with PEAK was a huge success. Airing the new video telling the story of Oscar and his mentor, current PEAK Board member Chris Parente, along with Alejandra’s remarks, helped us raise over $150,000 to support the mentoring and scholarships that change the trajectory of our scholars’ lives.

We were fortunate to have Board members Tunde Babarinsa and Chris Parente rounding out the story of why PEAK is so important -- we are the only scholarship and mentoring program that serves the population of average and below average students that are all too often written off, despite being the largest demographic among Chicago youth. PEAK shows that every student can graduate given the right supports and a quality education.

This year’s virtual event was so successful that we are now hosting “Coffee Conversations” that will virtually bring our program to your company or community. We hope you will consider introducing PEAK to others you know who might wish to get involved -- not just at the annual Breakfast, but any time someone you know is looking for an opportunity to move the needle on educational and racial equity.


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