Heide Renteria is a dance instructor at The Chicago Academy for the Arts and a mother of five. Two of her daughters attend the academy with help from the Invest in Kids scholarship program, but the program ends this year unless state lawmakers save it.
“My daughter, Liliana, was scholarship recipient. She’s my second of five girls. My fourth daughter, India Rose, also went to The Chicago Academy for the Arts, and she was a participant in the [scholarship program] as well.”
“I remember hearing about it through WGN. I had two in high school and one still in grade school then. So I went back to the school, researched the program. I needed a Hail Mary because I couldn’t afford this school for my kids. I remember even asking the grade school about it. We were desperate.”
“The change in their education was huge. After three children, my kids would not have been able to go to the performing arts high school. We could no longer afford anything, and we were looking at moving to a better location so that they could have a better education.”
“I live in a town my kids love and they’re making great strides in education. But we’re not quite there yet that I felt comfortable, safety wise, academic wise and environmental wise that they would be successful.”
“The arts programs, which my kids have invested their lives into, were just not on the level that my children have gotten on the path that they’ve gone down at the academy.”
“It feels like the universe has been working on my side to get my children into these schools. Then here comes [Invest in Kids] and it was another blessing. It’s like a small miracle, and I hate to say it, but it would really be devastating if the program ended.”
“It would force us to go somewhere else, to move away from our community and find another community that could support what my children need to do in their education and arts endeavors. I think it would force unnecessary change.”
“For us, we’re looking at first generation Mexican Americans going into the arts culture.
“I think you’re looking at an opportunity for poorer communities that aren’t as well off to get a chance to be empowered and move further in their education and their career paths.”
“We have to look beyond ourselves and recognize that a program like this helps to give the younger generation an opportunity to be successful in their careers and their education so they can come back and be leaders in the community.”
“Nobody wants to leave their community to go somewhere else for education. There are choices that we shouldn’t have to make. I mean, I’m a public-school proponent, but my public school system is not quite there yet with the standards that I want.”
“I actually run an art school in Maywood, which is all African American, and the only way I can get my own students into a school like a performing arts school is that I use this [Invest in Kids] scholarship.”
“I’m ready to do what I have to do to save this scholarship. I’ve got three more years before my kids finish high school, so I need at least three more years of it. My community probably needs at least 23 more years.”
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