With a program like Step Up, girls from under-resourced communities in NY, Chicago, and LA are exposed to a professional network of women who serve as their guides on the path to success. Where college was once a far-fetched thought, because of the Step Up mentors, the road to a successful academic career is all the more possible. Once in a lifetime opportunities are presented to the girls such as interning at a prestigious law firm and working on a movie set. This is not your average day for your typical high schooler, but it is for the Step Up girls. Step Up believes in introducing the power of networking early while giving the girls a strong foundation of support.
With such a powerful mission and cause, it’s no wonder that the annual fundraising event Shine & Dine is marked on the calendars of philanthropists and foodies alike.
Close to 1000 guests gathered at the Bridgeport Art Center to show their support for the women’s empowerment organization. Held at the spacious Skyline Loft, this choice of venue was the perfect location for a fashionable and delicious fête.
As guests languished in the impressive views of the Chicago skyline, they sampled and indulged from a plethora of food vendors. Each and every corner of the room featured new delectable discoveries that delighted the palate. The diverse menu ranged from an incredibly delicious tuna tartare from the Signature Room at the 95th to raspberry scoops of gelato that melt in your mouth from Spiaggia. True to the title of the event, there was no shortage of dining.
After delighting in sweet and savory bites and sipping on signature cocktails, it was then time for the main event. Seated at elegantly decorated tables, attendees of Shine & Dine were treated to a moving presentation from the Step Up foundation. As the video played on 2 giant screens, Step Up girls lined the room in all their glory donning the bright orange Step Up t-shirts.
In the video, supporters of the organization were able to see firsthand why their continued support was needed. As each bright and young promising face was shown across the screen, audience members were able to see the impact that Step Up has had in the lives of many young girls. In the video, the girls their stories as they wore their college regalia as badges of honor. As the video moves from one Step Up alumna to the next, each young woman proudly declares that their success was made possible by their strong network of mentors.
As the video concludes, guests awaited for the keynote address to be delivered by none other than former Chicago Treasurer and current Vice President of Allstate, Stephanie Neely. As Stephanie shared her story of triumph and tribulation, many of the girls and audience members eyes lit up in awe and admiration. Her story of triumph elicited a call to action to not only the Step Up girls but listeners in the audience as well.
However, it was the moving speech by Step Up alumna Paris Scales that allowed guests to truly see the Step Up movement at work. Paris shared with the audience her story of overcoming life-changing obstacles while striving for excellence in the Step Up program. Because of Step Up, Paris is now the proud member of the sophomore class of Kettering University.
After being inspired by the speakers, it was then time for donors to open their wallets and give to the organization. Cheers roared throughout the room and the Step Up girls shook their pom-poms as the money steadily came rolling in. Because of the attendees support, the evening brought in an astounding $250,000!
While the goal was met, the party didn’t end and the celebration continued in the action photo booth. While some played around and took some silly photos, others had the option to delight in even more delicious offerings that made their way across the room.
All in all we shined and we dined for a great cause, and I’m looking forward to the 6th annual extravaganza in 2016.
Special thank you to Kelly Allison Photography for the images