CHICAGO – September 15, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today continued his commitment to improving education in Illinois by joining students, parents, advocates and community leaders to open the United Neighborhood Organization’s (UNO) newest charter school on Chicago’s West Side. The state provided a $27 million Illinois Jobs Now! capital investment to build UNO’s Soccer Academy Elementary School, which employed nearly 400 workers during construction and is now creating 42 full- and part-time permanent jobs.
“Making sure that every child in Illinois has access to a quality education is a top priority of my administration and parents throughout Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “This project is the next step of many we are taking to give parents more good options to ensure their children have opportunities to succeed.”
The UNO Soccer Academy Elementary School is based on an innovative concept of integrating the game of soccer into a traditional curriculum, including science, social studies, math and physical fitness, with the goal of using sports as a motivational tool to make sure students are academically well-rounded. The school will eventually be a part of a larger campus that includes a high school, stadium and community plaza.
"This school will help alleviate overcrowding on Chicago's Southwest Side and bring a quality option to parents and their children,” Juan Rangel, CEO of UNO said. “I thank Governor Quinn for his commitment to improving public education throughout our state.”
The school will serve approximately 575 students in kindergarten through eighth grade and help relieve overcrowding that has plagued schools in many Chicago communities. The new 63,000 square foot facility located at 5050 South Homan Street was designed to meet LEED Silver Certified Standards. More than 46 percent of the firms that participated in construction of this project are minority-owned businesses and 10.3 percent are female -owned businesses.
“Funding through the state’s capital plan will allow UNO to devote more resources to improving classroom education, while also allowing them to remain on the cutting-edge in terms of efficiency and sustainability,” said Warren Ribley, director of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the state agency in charge of administering the grant.
Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program includes nearly $100 million for UNO charter schools that will alleviate school overcrowding and provide quality education options for Illinois children. To date, the state has invested more than $30 million for green, capital and digital literacy initiatives at UNO schools. In addition to UNO’s new neighborhood school, DCEO has provided support for a number of other UNO projects, including a new green roof and solar heating system at Veterans Memorial Charter School Campus, as well as capital funds for construction of the facility. The state also provided $369,000 from the Digital Divide Grant Program to help provide computer training for more than 2,600 low-income individuals.