In September 2014 the Strawberry Mansion High Knights celebrated not only their 50th Anniversary as a school community, but also their first-ever home football game. The high school has struggled over the years to remain open, fill enrollment, and provide extracurricular and enrichment activities. The school has been known to have a solid basketball team, but undertaking a football team was a new challenge. The coach spent weeks recruiting skeptical youth from Strawberry Mansion to join the team and come to practices throughout the summer. With limited funding, the school community rallied support within and outside of the School District for equipment and uniforms.
When NET’s Community Umbrella Agency (CUA) 7 joined the 22nd Police District community, we were quickly introduced to the Strawberry Mansion Student Advisory Committee (SAC) and other community partners who have been rallying behind the students. We partnered with the SAC and the U.S. Attorney’s office (who have special interest in youth violence reduction in the 22nd Police District) to provide a huge community tailgate party for the football team’s first home game. We helped to provide over 500 hot dogs, snacks and beverages and 500 backpacks full of school supplies. Over 12 other agencies provided resource and information tables. We had a blast at Chalmer’s Park Field!
The tailgate party was a morale booster for not only the students, but the community at-large. Strawberry Mansion alumni took pride in celebrating with the young football team, happy to participate in a huge first for the Mansion Athletics Department. Seeing the smiles on the cheerleaders’ faces as they ran in before the football players was so exciting! Every student left with a full back pack and school supplies, but most importantly, the support of their community. This experience was an amazing collaboration for NET early in our CUA career.