Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation Makes Grant Possible

Ady Rubio, Drop-In Supervisor, Alive Center, 78 S. LaSalle Street in Aurora

AURORA, IL, USA, October 14, 2021. “We had an opportunity to see Alive Center participants in action at their Naperville location and when we heard the organization wanted to bring their wonderful Teen-Led, Teen-Driven empowerment programs to the west side of Aurora, we were all in,” said Amy Baudouin, Board Chair, Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation (AWEF). “We also felt very connected to their leadership team’s vision to be a national force for good, bringing their youth leadership model across the US, and want to see Aurora girls take the lead in showing others the way.”

The Alive Center (Alive) programs are free to all students grades 6-12 each day after school and over the summer to encourage leadership, promote success in school, teach effective coping skills, and foster human connections between teens from all races and ethnicities. The girl empowerment programs align closely with the mission of AWEF to elevate and empower women and future women, especially those who reside in under-resourced communities or come from lower income and single parent families.

Kandice Henning

“This generous grant helps launch our Teen-Led Teen-Driven Girl Empowerment programs focused on developing the gifts and talents of teen and tween girls at our Aurora satellite location,” said Kandice Henning, Founder and CEO at Alive Center.  “The programs inspire young females to discover themselves and their interests in a safe, supportive, and supervised environment that’s also fun.”

The girl-focused programs offered at the Aurora Alive Center location include Dare to Be Rare, Girl Empowerment Club, Girl’s STEM programs focused on Engineering, Computer Science, and Coding, as well as Summer STEM Camps. All are designed and led by girls to leverage the power of Alive’s peer-to-peer mentoring model. Alive also offers young girls access to free mentoring and tutoring from older high school teens.

“After-school programs such as those provided at Alive fill an important community need,” said Kacie Chitwood, Community Engagement and Development Lead at Alive. “Students who participate in our programs do better in school, stay in school longer, and have greater expectations for their future.”

According to the AfterSchool Alliance, today’s teens face many challenges—drug and alcohol use, sex, obesity, self-esteem, mental health issues, pressure to perform, and more. The unsupervised hours after school from 3 pm to 7 pm is a crucial time when teens are most vulnerable. This is especially true for youth considered at-risk or come from low-income and single-parent families.

Kacie Chitwood

Adilene “Ady” Rubio

Parents in the community are always welcome to tour the Alive Center in Aurora as they schedule tours for teens and their families several times throughout the year. Their Drop-in Coordinator, Adilene Rubio, is a bi-lingual Aurora native who has dreamt of opening an Alive Center in Aurora since completing her internship at Alive as a part of her Master of Social Work (MSW) requirements.  Ady is an Aurora University Graduate and a licensed MSW Social Worker.

“Ady’s commitment to her hometown and her unique ability to observe and nurture the individual needs of each teen who comes to Alive is a major reason for the success and growth of our Teen-Led programming for girls and young women in Aurora to date,” said Kandice.  “We are eager to continue our growth in the Aurora community and are grateful to the AWEF for their support of our mission.”

Those interested in learning more about Alive Center programs in Aurora can drop in Monday, Wednesday, or Friday between 2:45 and 6 pm at 78 S. LaSalle Street, or connect with Alive at or 630-778-6093.


The Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation mission is to elevate and empower Aurora-area women and future women by making grants to tax-exempt nonprofits engaged in meaningful, measurable work that helps women over the hurdles of inequity and exclusion, propelling them forward with life-changing programs and services.  For more information about grants made by AWEF, including our grant guidelines and online application, visit

Centrally located inside the Community Christian Church on LaSalle in downtown Aurora, the Alive Aurora provides teens with a unique place to connect, discover and come alive! Our mission is to be a Teen-Led, Teen-Driven© (TLTD) center focused on empowering the youth of today to become the impassioned, resilient leaders of tomorrow. As a nonprofit organization, Alive offers free drop-in hours after school and over the summer as well as a myriad of programs, classes and events, designed to build confident and resilient teens.

On any given day at Alive one will find teen-led tutoring, mentoring and clubs as well as life skill classes such as unstructured art and dance, nutrition and healthy cooking, stress management, creative writing and just plain fun! Alive is a place to belong and learn important life skills. Alive’s paid programming and facility rentals help fully utilize the space while allowing the community to support our local teens.