Non-profit community organizations bridge Chicago and Kavar

Christopher House, Logan Square Neighborhood Association and Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation to broaden children’s horizons

Chicago—Christopher House, a non-profit organization focused on low-income children and families, has taken on an initiative to bridge gaps between the United States and the Kavar region of Turkey. In 2011, 20 students from Christopher House’s Uptown site between the ages of seven and 12 will exchange letters with 20 students of the same age from the Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation in the Tokaçli in a pen pal program, allowing for cultural broadening and exchange.

The project, called Köprü, the Turkish word for “bridge,” emerged from an exchange program titled, “From the Ground Up: Building Civil Society Organizations’ Capacity to Succeed,” funded by the State Department through Heartland International. Allison Lowe-Fotos, a social worker at Christopher House, along with two other group-mates–Bridget Murphy from the Logan Square Neighborhood Association and Nurçan Baysal of The Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation– developed Köprü based on early childhood education in each of their communities.

Along with writing letters, the children will receive introductory cultural lessons, teaching them about Turkish culture and benefiting from the improvement of literacy and language skills. Access to resources for both of these populations can be limited, but the wonderment of building cross-cultural communities is necessary to broaden the children’s horizons, seeing a world beyond their own.

The project is set to begin in January and run through June 2011, with a final published book highlighting the program, photos of the children and letters as a remembrance for the participants and their families.

About Christopher House:
Since 1906, Christopher House has provided a continuum of care for low-income children and families. Its five sites on Chicago’s north and west sides provide a wide variety of comprehensive support services to more than 4,000 children and their family members each year.

Christopher House prepares early learners for school through early childhood education services; empowers children and youth through afterschool and youth development programs; creates strong, stable, and healthy parents and infants through prenatal and parent education; and supports families through comprehensive family support services,  including a food pantry and financial assistance.  Contact for Köprü Program: Allison Lowe-Fotos, Social Worker.

About About The Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation:

Founded in 1990 by Hüsnü M. Özyeğin, The Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation (HMOF)’s efforts have been focused on education, combining three pillars of its work addressing the issues of: children’s access to basic education, girls’ access to secondary education and empowering opportunities, and access to education for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Today, more than 25,000 students have access to high quality primary and secondary education learning environments through these schools, and more than 4,000 girls have access to high quality housing environments and also benefit empowering life-skills training programs each year. The Foundation provided more than 11,000 yearly scholarships to support college students with outstanding academic performance and from under-resourced families, and supported them to become agencies of change in their communities by promoting the culture of cooperation and social responsibility among young people.

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