Twenty-five young Chicago Housing Authority residents will graduate from a college-preparation program this afternoon.
The students, entering their junior and senior years of high school, spent seven weeks taking mathematics and reading classes, picking up professional skills and minding their manners during field trips to Chicago businesses and an upscale Italian restaurant.
They were part of the CHA's Next Step: College Prep program, a partnership with Siemens Building Technologies and Windows of Opportunity, the authority's nonprofit affiliate.
Officials say the program helped boost their reading and math skills by several grade levels. They also learned some softer skills they will need to succeed in the business world by meeting with engineers, bankers and other professionals in the city.
Toward the end of the program, they had lunch with executives at Maggiano's Little Italy, where they received some informal lessons in proper etiquette.
Today's graduation ceremony starts at 4 p.m. in the Charles Hayes Center, 4859 S. Wabash Ave. CHA Chief Executive Officer Lewis A. Jordan will attend to congratulate the graduates, and I'll have a larger article about the program tomorrow.