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AALR is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has served African Americans in the western suburbs of Chicago since 2000.

Originally, AALR referred to African American Leadership Roundtable, an organization focused on improving the overall well-being of African Americans by addressing various issues of concern in our community. AALR sought to build leadership, provide information, and collaborate with civic, religious, and voluntary organizations to tackle the many challenging issues faced by African Americans. While the overall goal of AALR remains the same, the organization has sharpened its focus on the education of our youth in particular. In keeping with this new laser focus on educational achievement, AALR adopted a new mission and vision statement in 2014 and revised its acronym to now stand for Asserting Achievement Literacy & Resiliency.

For 20 years, AALR has a history of supporting the success of African-Americans partnering with community stakeholders for the well-being of our beloved community. Read more about AALR's history by clicking here.

AALR Scholarships

The Rev. Henry Soles and Ms. Olivia Garth Scholarships were established in 2015 recognizing the pioneering work and dedication of Rev. Soles and Sister Garth. 

In 2021, we added the Henry L. Allen Scholarship to honor another founder and AALR president.

These scholarships are awarded annually to graduates who have exemplified hard work and a dedication to helping others achieve and succeed in life.


Graduation Handshake


Chicago Hope

In late 2017, AALR started researching opportunities to partner with an organization that supported Chicago youth. After contacting several organizations, a decision was made to partner with Metropolitan Family Services-Calumet Office (MFSC).

AALR's Chicago Hope program commenced in early 2018 to aid in the success of MFSC's Upward Bound students with aspirations of going to college. Our support includes an annual College-Bound Preparatory Training Session, a trunk party, access to one-on-one mentoring while in college, and other collaborative work with the staff of MFSC.

AALR is pleased with our newest program, a partnership with Metropolitan Family Services-Calumet Office to ensure first generation, college-bound Chicago high school students are equipped with the mentoring support and basic essential needs to begin and sustain them during their college career. We seek individuals and organizations to partner with us in this endeaver. If interested in partnering with us, please e-mail Marla Jarrett Barbee at

AALR is embarking on a new initiative to find a path towards racial healing and thriving. 

 Ubuntu House aims to be a place that fosters healing and thriving from the harm done by racial trauma. The vision of this initiative is to create an enduring legacy of hopefulness and wholeness that brings purpose and thriving.

Our goal in the next 3 years (by end of 2024) is to  purchase and rehab a property with offices and overnight accommodations.

Ubuntu House will be a space for people to receive information, resources, insight, and skills to overcome generational racial trauma and move toward healing, wholeness, and thriving. The space will be for short visits, small group discussions, and multiple day overnight stays.

Local Family Business

Chicago High Flyers

An offshoot of the Chicago Hope program, this program supports students from grades 9 through 12 and is designed to help students throughout their high school experience. Hopefully, this will prepare students to thrive as they journey through high school and enable them to successfully transition to college or technical school. 

Board of Directors

President, Amania Drane

Secretary, Juliet Allen

Treasurer, Connie Brown

Justin Allen, Esq.

 Marla Jarrett Barbee

 DAAWN--on Pause

Launched in 2011 as the educational program of AALR, DuPage Academic Achievement Workgroup Network, DAAWN, is a coalition of parents, community volunteers, schools, and concerned stakeholders interested in improving the educational outcomes of African American students. The first chapter of DAAWN began in Darien, IL in partnership with District 61's Lace Elementary School. DAAWN crafted  a tutoring program to meet the needs of struggling students. The program enjoyed the support of administrators, community partners, and parents.,  Over the years, DAAWN emerged as a premier tutoring program providing opportunities for academic growth, cultural learning and awareness, social activities and outings, community service, self-esteem, character building, responsibility and incentive programs.

Currently, the program is on pause due to the global pandemic. We are looking forward to relaunching a new version of the DAAWN program in the near future. 




We are grateful to our many partners who have contributed to the success of our programs.  Churches, civic and social organizations, non-profit organizations, community volunteers, and parents have been invaluable assets.  We would like to extend our special thanks to the following:

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