Ombudsman Helps Empower Today’s Youth (Chicago)

Imani Tiney Black History Month

As Women’s History Month ends, Ombudsman Chicago continues to help inspire the next generation of African American leaders, especially young women. Ombudsman students like Imani Tiney and Monica Watson are carrying the torch and leading by example for other youth.

A CPS Options School Program, Ombudsman Chicago specializes in offering out-of-school and off-track teens a second chance at academic achievement. With a core goal of helping each student form a foundation of success to build on and prepare for the future, Ombudsman provides an environment where students are empowered to make good choices.

Imani, a sophomore at Ombudsman Chicago’s South Side location, was part of aBlack History Month program that focused on students’ interpretation of violence within the Chicagoland community. Students created exhibits that celebrated iconic African American leaders and incorporated violence prevention messages. Parents, students and community partners were invited to tour the exhibit and discuss ways to help make communities safe.

As one of the student ambassadors who led the tour, Imani’s exhibit was dedicated to Malcolm X, a leader she says had a great influence on her life. “Malcolm overcame a lot,” said Imani, who was adopted as a child. “I can relate to his journey because although he made some bad decisions, he made a complete 180 and ended up changing the world. I used to make bad decisions and got into a lot of trouble, but now I’m on a different path.”

Like many of the students at Ombudsman, Imani has faced some challenging personal obstacles throughout her life. After having a deep conversation with her history teacher, Imani decided that she needed to make a change in her life. “I realized that I have to get my high school diploma, not only for me, but also for my four little brothers whom I’m helping to raise.” After graduation, she would like to attend Spelman College with the goal of becoming a psychologist.

Much like Imani, Monica Watson, a sophomore at Ombudsman Chicago’s West Side location, acknowledges the legacy of African American leaders – especially women – as her inspiration to succeed. Monica, who was once homeless, attributes her drive to her mother. “I didn’t have a father in my life,” she said. “My mother was my mom, my dad, my sister and best friend.”

Since enrolling at Ombudsman, Monica has excelled in math and now aspires to become a math teacher. “I was fortunate to come here and learn from an extraordinary math teacher,” said Monica, who benefits immensely from the personal attention of Ombudsman instructors. “One day, I want to be just like that – a great teacher who can make math fun for people.” After graduation, Monica plans to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Ombudsman Chicago has provided thousands of students like Imani Tiney and Monica Watson a second chance at academic success and helped them to shape a brighter future, both in and out of the classroom. To learn more about Ombudsman Chicago, visit For more information, contact Brinton Flowers, Flowers Communications Group at 312.228.8821