Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Teams Up to Empower Morgan Park High School Students

CHICAGO, Aug. 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL), a leader in building healthy communities across…

CHICAGO, Aug. 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL), a leader in building healthy communities across the state, today announces a new student development program with Morgan Park High School in collaboration with Polished Pebbles mentorship program and the Rho Gamma Gamma Chicago Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated.

As part of the partnership, 30 students who are selected by the high school will participate in a 15-week mentorship and job shadowing program designed to address social determinants of health – including education access and equity, economic stability, and social and emotional support.

«We’re committed to addressing the conditions, environments and systems that shape health – and we believe that investing early in local students’ health and well-being can help set them up for lifelong success,» said Harmony Harrington, vice president, government, communications and community for BCBSIL. «We’re pleased to partner with Morgan Park High School, Polished Pebbles and Omega Psi Phi to help these young leaders take charge of their futures – building off the relationships we’ve fostered through our investments in Morgan Park, including our solution center and Blue Door Neighborhood Center.»

Launching in October 2021, the program will serve Morgan Park High School students through March 2022. Throughout the 2021/2022 school year, participants will benefit from the following:

  • Educational workshops and events at BCBSIL’s Blue Door Neighborhood Center TM and Morgan Park High School
  • Physical and mental health programming for students and high school staff
  • Job shadowing with employees of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
  • Access to BCBSIL job postings
  • Skill-building in the areas of job readiness, resume writing, interviewing and more

«This school year is like no other that we’ve experienced before. We are dedicated to re-engaging students quickly upon their return to build relationships and provide them with unique opportunities,» said Dr. Femi Skanes, Principal, Morgan Park High School. «In advance of the October launch of the program, BCBSIL is participating in Morgan Park High School’s Back to School Festival taking place Thursday, August 26 from noon until 5pm at 1744 W. Pryor Ave. As part of the event’s job fair, we will be recruiting for 30 open positions. The event will also feature COVID-19 vaccinations, fitness classes and opportunities for students to meet their teachers.»

Omega Psi Phi and Polished Pebbles are long-time champions for youth outreach and empowerment. Both organizations will offer ongoing opportunities during the 15-week program – including mentorship and educational programming on critical thinking, entrepreneurship and more. Students will also participate in skills-based volunteerism and develop career readiness by shadowing BCBSIL staff.

Participants will come away with experiences and connections that will help them pursue personal and professional success.

«We are excited to launch this program with like-minded organizations,» said Heather Lindsay, assistant vice president, Medicaid Operations at BCBSIL. «Together, we look forward to helping more young adults understand the role they play in building healthier communities – and it all starts with committing to a healthier you.» Lindsay and her team support job shadowing activities at the Morgan Park solution center.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is committed to expanding access to quality, cost-effective health care to as many people as possible in Illinois. BCBSIL is dedicated to innovation and exploring, nurturing and activating future possibilities to make the health care system work better for our members and our communities. BCBSIL is a division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

About Morgan Park High School

Morgan Park High School is a public middle and high school that serves over 1,200 students on Chicago’s South Side. The school strives to challenge each student academically and socially through opportunities such as its International Baccalaureate program and various Advanced Placement courses. It also ranks among the most successful public high schools in Chicago athletically, excelling in sports including baseball, football, and basketball.

About the Omega Y.E.S. Program

Omega Y.E.S. is a mentorship program for young men grades 7 to 12 created by the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Life Member, Micheal Parham Sr., and has been adopted by the Rho Gamma Gamma Chapter of Chicago. The program offers a comprehensive, values-based rites of passage program that includes instruction and guidance in conflict resolution, life skills and goal setting. They encourage the development of strong study habits and critical thinking skills. There is strong focus on decision making and problem-solving skills, while emphasizing the importance of time management and task prioritization.

About Polished Pebbles

Polished Pebbles, an Illinois Gold Star rated mentoring program, is a Chicago-based mentoring initiative that increases the communication skills and employ-ability of young women for the future workplace. Polished Pebbles helps girls ages 7-17 become effective communicators at home, school, and their future careers. The organization currently serves 500+ girls and young women per school year in Chicagoland, Indiana, Texas, and North Carolina.

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SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois