(CHICAGO) Katten announced today that the firm has donated backpacks to students at Chicago Public Schools' Jose de Diego Community Academy, which serves the city's Humboldt Park and Wicker Park neighborhoods and is the home of the Katten Legal Clinic, one of the first school-based legal clinics in the nation.
"Given high inflation and the rising costs of school supplies, we hope that this donation has helped offset the burden for many families in the community who may have stretched budgets," said Gil M. Soffer, managing partner of Katten's Chicago office. "We want to ensure that these elementary school students are equipped with the supplies they need to have a great start to the new school year."
More than 100 backpacks were distributed on August 19 at the elementary school's Back-to-School BBQ, before the school opened its doors to students this week. Families with children enrolled in elementary and high schools planned to spend an average of $864 on back-to-school shopping, an increase of about $15 compared to last year, or $168 more than the pre-pandemic 2019 school year, according to the National Retail Federation.
"With the backpack giveaway, we wanted to uplift the community and help prepare students returning to school," said Keith Forrest, Katten's national paralegal manager, who organized the backpack donation. "We are proud to offer our continued support as a community partner."
For more than a decade, Katten has partnered with Jose de Diego Community Academy, organizing holiday book drives, donating school supplies, participating in the Lawyers in the Classroom program to help students better understand the legal system and learn about law-related careers, and providing pro bono legal counsel to residents at the Katten Legal Clinic based in the school.
In addition, Katten has been committed to helping students in the Chicago area in a number of ways. The Chicago office is continuing to host a dozen students attending Cristo Rey Jesuit High School on the city's Southwest Side and Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School on the West Side for a corporate work study program this school year. The students will be supporting the firm’s accounting, IT and facilities operations. For years, the firm has been a corporate sponsor of the Chicago Summer Business Institute program. Through the program, Katten offered a Chicago high school student a paid five-week summer internship, which wrapped up earlier this month.