In Chicago’s historic Washington Park neighborhood you’ll find the thriving school community that is (Betsy) Ross Elementary. The mission of the school is to “provide education to students that is of high quality and definitive; making each student strive to reach his/her highest potential.”

With over 98% of the enrolled students coming from low-income households and nearly 10% needing special education, this can feel like a lofty goal at times. However, under the careful leadership of Principal Shabazz, Ross Elementary is making a difference in the lives of hundreds of students and creating an encouraging environment to learn and grow.

Many Chicago Cares volunteers leave a service event at Ross Elementary wanting to come back for more, and that is precisely what three volunteers have done following their time at this year’s Celebration of Service in January. Two college students have chosen to come back to the school on a monthly basis to help organize library books, design bulletin boards, or complete whatever other task Dr. Shabazz assigns. Another volunteer brought in craft supplies for a group of 3rd-5th grade girls to create and decorate their own book bags based on a story they had read.

Part of what makes Ross Elementary so special is the dedication of the students to learn and their willingness to challenge themselves to meet their goals. The Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund is an award designed to, “give high school scholarship assistance and educational support to Chicago students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.” As part of the application process, students must demonstrate academic potential, strong character and financial need.

This year two students from Ross Elementary received this prestigious scholarship. One will be attending Chicago Hope Academy downtown, and another will be attending Wayland Academy, a college preparatory school in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

The students, staff, and administration are very protective of the work that Chicago Cares does at the school. Last year, Dr. Shabazz caught students (not from the school) attempting to steal the plywood murals that volunteers completed during Serve-a-thon 2011. He caught the offenders and made sure that they completed service hours at the school for every mural taken.

You can support the inspiring work of neighborhood schools like Ross Elementary; join us for Serve-a-thon on June 9. Registration closes on June 4, so sign up today!