Clemente High 64b70e8f16253

Chicago district opens welcoming center to help migrant families enroll children in school

July 18, 2023
The center at Roberto Clemente Community Academy will help newly arrived families sign up their children for school.

The Chicago school district has opened a welcome center on the city's West Side that will give recently arrived migrant families help with enrolling in school, receiving free school supplies, signing up for public benefits, and getting vaccinated.

Chalkbeat Chicago reports that Mayor Brandon Johnson and city and district officials unveiled the new center at Roberto Clemente Community Academy, a high school in the city’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. Officials say the center is a pilot effort — possibly the first of several such facilities across the city.

The center, which will work with families by appointment only, is estimated to cost roughly $750,000, according to school district CEO Pedro Martinez.

More than 10,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago since August, many sent on buses by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Roughly half are staying in temporary shelters, including police stations. Hundreds of school-aged children are among the new arrivals.

Johnson said the area around Clemente was one of the city’s most densely populated with newcomer immigrants. 

Martinez didn't say exactly how many migrant students enrolled in the district this past school year — it’s in the thousands, he said — or how many the district expects to serve in 2023-24. 

At the welcoming center on the high school’s second floor, families will make their way through several classrooms to get a string of services, officials said. Children will get an English language screening, receive free supplies, and get assigned to a school. 

Martinez said the high school students will be assigned to Clemente, and younger children will be enrolled at one of eight nearby elementary schools — Chopin, De Diego LaSalle II, Mitchell, Moos, Pritzker, Sabin, and Talcott.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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