The Oak Park and River Forest High School Alumni Association has awarded community non-profit Opportunity Knocks with a one-time $10,000 grant. This is the first time in the history of the association that a grant of this size has been awarded to a local organization. Since 2003, the association has awarded grants to OPRF students to use for summer enrichment programs. However, most of the summer programs were cancelled due to COVID-19, and the likelihood of programs running in summer 2021 is uncertain.
In looking at how to distribute the funds raised for this year, association board member Therese Brennock made the suggestion to consider Opportunity Knocks for a one-time donation.
“I received a call from a former OPRF student, Katrina Jeffries, right after our fall alumni board meeting,” said Brennock. “Katrina has participated in Opportunity Knocks programming for several years and told me that [they] really needed donations due to fundraising event cancellations.”
Based in River Forest, OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS serves young people in Oak Park, River Forest, and Forest Park who have intellectual and developmental disabilities through social, recreational, and life-skills programming. Executive Director Mike Carmody and President Phil Carmody, both OPRF grads, were blown away by the news about the grant, calling it a “blessing when we needed some help up off the mat.”
“It came on the heels of us realizing some other significant fundraising shortfalls due to pandemic-related challenges,” Mike said. “The framework of our program platform has become more demanding than ever with new technology and PPE investments needed to ensure our virtual and onsite program formats are safe and fully accessible.”.
“The more I thought about it, the more a donation to Opportunity Knocks made complete sense,” said Brennock. “It is run by OPRF alumni, they employ alumni and the majority of students they serve are alumni from the TEAM/CITE program [at OPRF], and they also have an enormous alumni following.”
Aligning with its mission to assist students with limited resources, the Alumni Association has requested the grant cover program costs for Opportunity Knocks participants who have the greatest financial need.
For more information about Opportunity Knocks, click HERE.