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After School Matters Hero #2: Miriam Socoloff

Miriam Socoloff could be positioned as a matriarch of After School Matters. She has been with the program since the first tent was pitched on Block 37, and has since dedicated her life to teaching and expanding the program. She recalls a beautiful, circus-like atmosphere in the original gallery37 tents, featuring jugglers, dancers, musicians and artists. She currently teaches advanced painting and drawing.

One of Socoloff’s fondest After School Matters memories is creating benches in the Urban Gateways tent at gallery37. The benches are now found all over Chicago, and even some scattered throughout the country – including one that Hilary Clinton purchased for the White House lawn.

Socoloff credits After School Matters with helping students become leaders in their communities. The programs teach necessary job skills like being punctual, interviewing, seeking opportunities and speaking articulately to the public. She is most inspired by her students’ strength and determination in the face of adversity.

After School Matters® is a nonprofit organization that offers an array of high quality, out-of-school-time opportunities for Chicago teens. Founded in a tented area of Block 37 in 1991 by Chicago’s First Lady Maggie Daley and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg, and known then as the gallery37 summer arts program, After School Matters has grown to offer 25,000 program opportunities annually at more than 150 locations throughout the city.

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