Spotlight On: Beacon Place

Beacon Place

Walking up to the front door of the big blue house at 603 McAllister Avenue in Waukegan, it is hard to imagine what it looked like six years ago when it was just a dilapidated house and before Beacon Place founders envisioned a community center that would encourage people to see a path to new opportunities. Those founders established Beacon Place in 2012, and soon after purchased and restored the house from the studs up. Today, that big blue house and its new 3,600-square-foot yellow annex, are the cornerstone of the southeast Waukegan community, delivering programing for kids and adults focused on food and nutrition, overall health, academic support and life skills development for a brighter tomorrow. 

Beacon Place’s approach—whole child and whole family—is changing the lives of the people who embrace it. The families make a commitment to the process. Both the children and their parents get involved and are determined and dedicated to take the necessary steps to break the cycle and change the path of their future. This new path is guided by Beacon Place’s strong programming, but ultimately it is discovered by the families who are willing to take it. Since opening, Beacon Place has served more than 700 families.
Two of their original services were summer lunches and take-home backpacks. This continues to be vital for the children who qualify for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs (which provide students weekday breakfasts and lunches at school and food-filled backpacks to take home over the weekend) because they are only offered during the school year. This past summer more than 300 children received 3,000 lunches and 200 children took home 1,600 backpacks containing enough healthy food and fresh produce to make 9,600 meals. Children who come for lunch are also encouraged to stay and spend the afternoon participating in Beacon Place’s fun day camp-like activities. 

Beacon Place’s tutoring and educational enrichment, focused on math, reading, language arts and computer skills, is another one of their signature programs. There are now more than 130 students enrolled in the Education and Enrichment Program. This past fall, the children were involved in a “Where in the World” curriculum, which encouraged them to learn about the different regions and cultures of the world and understand and connect how and where they belong. By doing this, Beacon Place is inspiring their students by bringing the world to them.

Because of their whole family approach, Beacon Place has also increased the programs they offer adults. Their MOMS program (Mothers Offering Mothers Support, which also includes dads) provides art experiences, ESL, cooking and computer classes, guest speakers, social interaction and community building opportunities. Beacon Place also recently started Parent University, which aims to teach parents to be advocates and active participants in their children’s education, giving them more confidence to know what to say and do to encourage academic success.

A stronger and more enriched education, a fuller mind and belly; fun times had at a carnival, an outdoor movie night, a petting zoo; a commitment to opportunity, a celebration of skills gained, a community coming together—all of this is taking place on the corner of 603 McAlister Avenue, where stands a Beacon, a shining light guiding Waukegan children and families toward a brighter tomorrow.
Beacon Place Success Story: 

In January 2017, Beacon Place rolled out a pilot program to help students master basic math operations after standardized school test results at the nearby elementary school were showing that less than 5 percent of students were proficient at grade-level math. The results were similar amongst the Beacon Place students also because they share many of the same students. Forty Beacon Place students were targeted for the program, grades 2-10, and by the end of April those students made significant improvements. In January 2018, Beacon Place hired an intern to focus and individualize the program, which then had 83 students enrolled, and the results were even more impressive. Over the 18 months, 60 percent of all math operations were being mastered by all students; 83 percent of 6th grade and above students were mastering all math facts. Beacon Place is now aiming for a 100 percent target goal.

Beacon Place By the Numbers: 

3,00 meals served at 2018 Summer Lunch Bunch
1,600 backpacks with enough food for 9,600 meals were distributed during summer 2018
124 children attended the 2018 Summer Tutoring Program, a 20% increase from
243 teens and adults volunteered 3,400 hours during Summer Lunch Bunch 2018
130 students are enrolled in the Education and Enrichment ProgamMore than 45 parents participate in Parent University

November 2018 Spotlight On: Cristo Rey St. Martin