Ahead of Thursday night’s game against the Panthers, the Bears partnered with Amazon to host over 40 students from two youth organizations – Youth Guidance’s Waukegan program and BUILD Chicago – at Halas Hall Oct. 30.
The students traveled to Lake Forest to participate in talking circles with Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson, defensive tackle Justin Jones and defensive end Khalid Kareem and received a tour of Halas Hall. Along with the group conversations, Johnson, Jones and Kareem spent more time with the students taking pictures and signing autographs.
“This has been an amazing experience for our young people,” Youth Guidance chief of staff April Curtis said. “To have an opportunity to engage with players and to see the facility, for them, is a dream come true. For some of them, they want to be football players, baseball players, they want to go off to college and to see it here rather than just see it on TV, has been amazing. Just listening into the circles, the young people are definitely empowered and engaged and being able to speak truths about their experiences here and outside of here.”
With the Bears’ Salute to Service game landing on Thursday Night Football, Amazon brought members of their Warriors program that supports veterans and military spouses in their transition to the workforce.
Amazon also surprised both Youth Guidance and BUILD with $25,000 donations and gifted each student with a tablet.
“The contribution for the organization helps us do this work and do more with it,” BUILD CEO Adam Alonso said. “It was a complete surprise and grateful for that because our work is hard and we don’t always know where all the funding will come from so these kinds of gifts and surprises are inspiring for all of us.”
Read more from the Bears website here.