Another successful kickoff event


On May 2, we returned to Galleria Marchetti for our annual gala. It was an exciting evening with many new elements designed to enhance the experience of the 250+ guests in attendance.

The festivities kicked off with our guests having their pictures taken at our “step and repeat” before entering the cocktail reception, which featured an open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, expanded silent auction, wine pull and photo booth.

We were delighted to have Marley Kayden, co-host of “Chicago’s Best” on WGN-TV, back as our emcee for the dinner and program portion of the evening.

The program was filled with many highlights including a speech from Nicole Robinson, a teacher at the Academy for Urban School Leadership, titled “Agents of the Future: Empowering Today’s Youth.” We also handed out 8 college scholarships to some amazing young high school seniors. Two emotional videos were shown, one with teachers speaking on the impact of the Back 2 School program and how its continued growth has helped so many children in their schools, and another video of students thanking B2SI for their Back 2 School kits.

2019 College Scholarship winners:

  • Maggie Hollerman (DePaul College Prep High School) – To attend the University of Illinois, Marquette or Loyola University
  • Justin Powell (Walter Payton College Prep High School) – To attend the University of Southern California
  • Brandon Lee (New Trier High School) Attending Yale or Princeton University
  • Gabriel Laniewski (Whitney M. Young Magnet High School) – To attend Princeton University
  • Kendyll Cole (Lindblom Math and Science Academy) – To attend Carnegie Mellon University
  • Destiny Coleman (Lindblom Math and Science Academy) – To attend the University of Illinois
  • Priscilla Kwan (Whitney M. Young Magnet High School) – To attend the University of Illinois
  • Ashley Martinez (Rauner College Prep) – To attend Lafayette College or the University of Michigan

B2SI CEO Matthew Kurtzman’s addressed everyone and spoke on the future of the organization and the continued expansion of Back 2 School America.

Developing and executing an event of this size is a huge undertaking. Thank you to all the volunteers and staff for their tremendous work, and a special thank-you to Marci Adilman, Albert Ellenich, Hilary’s Cookies, Allan Kurtzman, Anne Kurtzman and Jeffrey Salzgeber – The Radiant Group.

We are also grateful for our 30+ sponsors of the 2019 Back 2 School program including our Presenting/Founding Sponsor: the Community Currency Exchange Association of Illinois; Diamond Sponsors: Fifth Third Bank, Western Union Foundation and Wells Fargo; and our Platinum Sponsors: Republic Bank, NBC/Comcast/Universal, Electronic License Service, CA Ventures, Community Financial Service Centers, Kits for Kidz and CIBC.

To view the videos shown at the gala, please follow the links below:

To view all the photos from the dinner, click here.

If you were unable to attend but would like to show your support and help us provide even more children from low-income households with school supplies this year, you can make a donation here.