Dear Ryan Banks Academy Supporters, 

What is the biggest recurring theme for the most successful people, regardless of their field? Resilience! The ability to face great adversity, endure it, and come out even better on the other side. I’ve served on RBA’s board since its founding and I have witnessed incredible growth and success after 6 years. I watched as our founder and CEO, Valerie Groth, endure the seemingly impossible task of building her vision for an innovative tuition-free private school for Chicago’s underserved students. Many people loved the idea but thought the effort was futile. Val managed to defy all of the odds. Her resilience and perseverance is built into the DNA of our school.

Resilience is a skill that may be more innate in some, but it is also a skill that can be taught and strengthened with the right guidance. RBA’s social/emotional curriculum builds resilience in our students through activities like meditation and helps them to express their emotions through art. 

2020 has been a tough year for all of us. As the covid pandemic hit Chicago hard in March, our in-person school had to quickly shift to an online school for this year. It was a major shock for both our students and our staff, but they all managed to stay strong. They collectively learned to bend and not break. Resiliency is contagious and amplified when your peers, teachers, and staff make a deliberate effort to support each other. Any student or staff member will tell you that RBA is more like a family than a school. Not many other schools can say that.

The holiday season is here as we wrap up this chaotic year. I’m asking you to help support and increase the resilience of our organization by making a tax-free donation today! Our students, their parents, and our staff have proven that they deserve continued support, and any donation is greatly appreciated. Lastly… before we close out the year, we are so thrilled to share a song entitled “Little Bit of Peace” which was written and sung by RBA students along with RBA social worker, Xoe Wise.  You can watch the video here, and here is what Xoe had to say about the process:

“It has been a complete joy working with the students at Ryan Banks Academy! I became a musical artist myself because when I was a young teen, I needed to process my feelings and music was that place for me. Sometimes I needed a space to talk things out and sometimes I needed a space to create. When I started at the school, I could not wait to get to know the students in our 1:1 setting, but I was also lucky to connect with them in a group collaborative force! Incorporating aspects of music healing and writing workshops, we started our weekly music labs which included lyric writing, song analysis, meditation, melody exercises, rhythm practice, BPM (beats per minute) application, and virtual recording sessions. Every session was different because there are so many aspects to music. Sometimes, students would bring in their favorite songs, and we would discuss what made them powerful. For our group project, students shared out their own lyrics about resilience. We put the verse and chorus together and weaved in recorded audio through Logic Pro X to make a demo! They titled the song “A Little Bit of Peace” very beautifully. There is huge strength and wisdom in understanding how far a little bit of peace can go. Further, they sing about finding that peace in the middle of a rainstorm. Their lyrics about resilience tell a story of seeing a grey cloud that looks mysterious, then with a little curiosity and imagination, it means a rainstorm of resilience! They also talk about the power of breathing, and how breathing can help find a healing release. This is a challenging year, and I can honestly say that their ability to connect with each other and creatively turn ideas into art, is the most resilient energy I have ever seen. Great work RBA songwriters.”

Happy New Year’s from RBA!!

Ryan Lazarus 

Board of Directors – Secretary, Ryan Banks Academy