CPS Safe Haven program spared amid school closings - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

CPS Safe Haven program spared amid school closings

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chicago Public Schools' Safe Haven program was spared despite massive and historic school closures city wide. It's another reason participants at this New Life Pilsen Church are celebrating.

"It's very important because you still get your homework help, you learn and then you grow as a person and that's what these programs are for," said CPS student Bianka Ramirez.

14 year old Bianka Ramirez is just one of more than 3,000 CPS students enrolled in Safe Haven, a free program made possible by dozens of churches that open their doors to students during holiday breaks, after school and spring and summer vacation.

The program keeps students off the streets and out of harm's way.

"With the gangs and the shootings, who knows if some of these kids would still be here," said Ramirez.

"None have been effected by violence nor a perpetrator of violence," said Reverend Renaldo Kyles, CPS Director of Faith Based Initiatives.

In an interview with Fox 32's Tisha Lewis Kyles says Safe Haven participants have also seen their grades go up.

"All our Safe Haven programs are built around workshops, conflict resolution, anger management, anti-bullying. All of our churches go through training, prepare them for programs to make sure the program is fun but yet meaningful," said Kyles.

For Safe Haven standout Bianka Ramirez, the program was life-changing and she knows plenty of eyes are watching her success.

"I know that I need to be a good example in their lives," said Ramirez.

Ramirez was accepted into a top-ranked high school where she'll be a freshman this fall.

"She has blossomed into a very strong, determined young lady who's going to be going to Walter Payton, one of the top high schools in the city and she's coming out of here, in the community, what they like to call the hood and it's a good inspiration to young girls," said Robert Belfort, Pastor of New Pilsen Church, one of the Safe Haven locations.

Safe haven's summer program starts July 1. It's free and almost 100 churches across the city are in it. We're told the program is funded by private donations and $800,000 from CPS.

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