Miscellaneous » Outreach Ministries (Hands of Mercy) » Underserved Schools

Underserved Schools

Since 2016, we have been working with Books First! Chicago to create libraries in the 70% of Chicago Public Schools in low-income neighborhoods that have none. Can you imagine growing up without books to read at home or at school?  If you are reading this, you know how important a solid foundation in reading (and writing) is. For everything. 

Peck Elementary School 

Peck Elementary, located at 3826 W 58th Street in Chicago, services approximately 800 students, most of whom speak Spanish at home. Approximately 500 students have been identified as English Language Learners and participate in our bilingual instructional program. 
Peck Elementary School strives to educate the whole child within a diverse community. They continue to develop a successful and comprehensive educational program that provides cultural diversity, individuality, and intellectual achievements. They are a STEAM school that utilizes 3 MakerSpace labs and 2 Garden Spaces to integrate multiple content areas for meaningful learning experiences. 
We are building a collaboration team to support Peck Elementary. Please contact Christine Frech if you are interested in joining us!

Wentworth School 

D. S. Wentworth School, 1340 West 71st Street, Chicago, IL 60636 
Level 2 in CPS rating system, ~400 students, 93.6% Black; 5.6% Hispanic.
Per the 2019 & 2018 testing reports, 2nd Grade in the 1st percentile for reading.
Our Collaboration with Wentworth School ended in 2021, but we accomplished a lot during our time with them.
Through a connection made through Books First! in 2020, St. Josaphat Parish collaborated with D. S. Wentworth School in Englewood. We began by supporting Primary Literacy Coach Jessica Christopher Taylor in her quest to instill a love of reading in the primary grade kids at Wentworth, and to boost their reading level from the 1st percentile. Key to her plan was to care for the teachers. Since the summer of 2020, we have supported Mrs. Taylor and Wentworth in various ways, through a book drive, book labeling and organization, donations to a virtual happy hour for teachers and support of Donors Choose projects. In addition:
  • Parishioner (and visionary) Jen Velarde and her team created a space that is both calming and exciting for kids to DEAR (Drop Everything And Read). The concept was to capture how reading takes you on adventures!
  • Parishioner Vera Wiltrout and the 4th Grade Junior Girl Scout Troop coordinated the Wentworth Remote workspace project. 50 St. Josaphat School and Religious Education students decorated divider boards for primary grade students who are learning from home, sharing space with family members.
  • In thanksgiving for their efforts to overcome the difficulties of teaching remotely, our parish sent the primary grade teachers and aids at Wentworth $15 gift cards from Target donated by parishioners Cheryl Lee Van and the Pomerenke family. Members of our Wentworth Collaboration Team - Judy Lovero, Jean Bystedt and Laura Burstein, coordinated this undertaking.
  • 50 Wentworth primary students received books and blankets for reading over the Christmas holidays through our Giving Tree.
  • We had over 20 Book Read Alouds in our video library for the Wentworth Scholars.
  • We managed a weekly buddy system for a primary grade students (watch this overview video).
  • Watch the 2020 Christmas video from Wentworth School