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My daughter, Autumn, was in Oak Park public schools and was doing well through grade school. In middle school, she began to struggle – that had a lot to do with her having a hard time with fitting in at the school and disruptive classmatesI thought Fenwick could be a better fit for her. There are less students per teacher, more support, and it was just an overall better fit for my daughter.” 

I’m a single father. There was no way I was going to be able to afford it on an Uber driver salary. That wasn’t going to happen. I could work 15 hours a day, seven days a week and it still wouldn’t be enough. I was exploring ways to make this switch to Fenwick possible, and I found Empower Illinois. I applied and went through the process. We were so happy when we got word back that Autumn was receiving a scholarship. It was such a reliefCutting the Invest in Kids scholarship program would be a horrible mistake. 

Autumn is also a martial artist. That’s a big part of who she is and her major commitment outside of the classroom. She’s on an invitation-only team out of San Jose, California, and competes nationally. Her goal is to make Team USA. She’s an incredibly talented kid and we think there’s a real future there. Of course, martial arts is also a very expensive thing to do, especially when I drive for Uber and Lyft. I wouldn’t be able to self-fund private schooling. I would have to choose. This scholarship made both possible. It made it possible for her to continue pursuing her dream while receiving an incredible education. 

Fenwick has been such a supportive environment for her, both in the educational sense and when it comes to pursuing her extracurricular activities. There’s a whole support system here, identifying things before they become a problem. Her counselor is fantastic. If there’s some sort of issue, whether she’s overwhelmed, can’t catch up, or she’s stuck, she can call them, sit down, and talk. Not just that, but they will meet with us and work to make a plan to put her back on track – it’s nothing like I had, which was being told to just take a semester off. They’re not just looking at the problems, they’re immediately trying to actively solve them and that has been so great. The overall personality that she’s developed in her time at Fenwick is tremendous and it makes me so proud. The opportunities and education she has received here has been life-altering. 

I think everybody agrees that our goal is to give our kids the best opportunities to live a good life and be a good person. That’s exactly what this program makes possible – that’s what schools like Fenwick provide families like mine. None of this would be possible without our scholarship from Empower Illinois. 

I think the good of the community is served by helping a kid succeed, instead of them dropping out of high school, or possibly having to give up Taekwondo to continue to go to high school––giving up her dream of representing the United States. We are so appreciative of this opportunity. This has been a saving grace for my daughter.

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