Camelot Education Alumna and Staff Member Starts Organization to Support Local Communities with Essential Items Amid Business Closures
Angel Buckley had a remarkable first year as a classroom counselor at Camelot Education’s Chicago Excel Academy of Englewood in Chicago. She assisted students with senior projects and discussed postsecondary planning. She became an instant mentor to many students, having been in their shoes six years ago.
Her ambition and determination to always succeed has followed her from the time she was a Chicago Excel Academy of Roseland student to now being a role model in the school system that taught her so much. Her passion to improve the lives of others extends well beyond the school’s walls and her work is making a big impact in the community around her.
“Angel is very innovative,” said Director of Student Services Celeste Sulaiman, who has known Angel since she was a student. “She is able to effectively communicate with the students because she knows what they are going through. She is creative and motivational when it comes to helping students prepare for a successful future. She is a great example of what our students can become.”
As the school year was coming to an end, Buckley was inspired to take action to support her neighbors and community in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. On her way home from a peaceful protest, she entered her neighborhood only be to be greeted by the smell of fire, loud sirens and people expressing their outrage by destroying storefronts.
“I understand why people are outraged but I also knew that people would suffer as businesses suffer,” said Buckley. “So many businesses were shut down and destroyed and vulnerable citizens like the sick, elderly and others could not get the essential items that they need.”
“I immediately knew what I had to do.”
With a former classmate, Buckley created the Chicago Revolutionary Initiative, a volunteer organization that supplies items including baby formula, diapers, wipes, hygiene products, toilet paper, personal protective equipment, and food. The project began by supplying 40 bags of non-perishable food items to seniors in her area. The organization has quickly taken on projects including visiting a hospital to provide diapers and baby powder to new mothers who are unable to shop for what they need.
“It’s remarkable how quickly the organization got up and running,” said Buckley. “We have reached about 400 people, created an online presence to expand our outreach, and gain support to donate supplies and sign up to volunteer. We have gathered resources to give away needed items for the next three months.”
The early success is just the beginning. Buckley plans to grow the organization to be able to provide necessities to those in need for up to one year. She also hopes to cultivate the Chicago Revolutionary Initiative into being a cultural organization that elevates Black artists, among other civic engagement activities.
Angel sees a clear linkage between her role at Camelot Education and the non-profit she has started.
“I want to link my professional work and my non-profit work to reach students,” said Buckley. “I want to work with students to teach them to take the pressure they are under and apply it in different ways to express themselves.”
At Excel Academy of Englewood, Buckley works with students to rebuild a positive vision for their future. With the Chicago Revolutionary Initiative, she works to supply her community with what it needs to rebuild itself and allow the community to thrive.
She set up a fund to reward students who speak up and engage in discussions about how they feel about racial inequalities and criminal justice reform. The goal is to reward discourse and initiate proactive and active conversations.
Excel Academy of Englewood is an accelerated school for students that are 15 to 21 years old and are behind in their studies. The program, part of Chicago Public Schools’ Options Schools network, offers an extended day where students can earn up to five credits per semester and 10 credits per year. This allows students to graduate, earning their high school diplomas, in 2.5 years or less. Excel Academy is dedicated to creating a challenging, academically rigorous, and safe environment for all students.
Buckley’s Camelot Education colleagues fully support her non-profit work. When working with students at Excel Academy of Englewood, Buckley says she is focused on helping students to be free and thrive. Based on her work with the Chicago Revolutionary Initiative, she wants the same for her community.
Sulaiman appreciates Angel for notifying Camelot students about the organization’s events.
“She always had that spark of wanting to give back to her community,” said Sulaiman. “She means a lot to Camelot and is excelling, taking it to the next level.”