From left to right) Y.O.U. Executive Director Seth Green and Richard and Katherine Art Youth Award finalists Shaquerra Blackwell, Cristal Hernando (winner), and Tyler Dixon.Submitted photo

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Youth Organization Umbrella’s (Y.O.U.’s) 2014 Annual Benefit raised more than $250,000 through the support of the more than 300 Evanston, Skokie and North Shore community members that attended the event held on Feb. 22 at Evanston Golf Club. Funds raised from the sold-out event will go towards sustaining and enhancing Y.O.U.’s programs at Washington and Oakton Elementary Schools when federal funding ends this year.

 Y.O.U. outreach worker Antasia Maddox kicked off the evening by recognizing Evanston Township High School seniors Cristal Hernando, Tyler Dixon and Shaquerra Blackwell for their growth and community contributions as the Richard and Katherine Art Youth Award finalists. Cristal thanked her family and Y.O.U. for helping her grow, find her voice and become more involved in community projects such as the Y.O.U.ng Filmmakers group that was nationally recognized for its anti-violence Jefferson Award for Public Service PSA.

United Way of North-Northwest received the Todd and Lora Wheeler Award for its transformative support of Y.O.U.’s Partnership for Middle School Success, which annually empowers over 300 youth and their families to succeed in middle school and enter high school ready to thrive.

Executive Director Seth Green said “We are truly grateful to have such loyal and committed supporters, and we are all absolutely thrilled for how this support will allow us to empower even more youth in the year ahead.”