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Chicago nonprofit preparing CPS students for professional careers through mentorship, extracurriculars

Chicago nonprofit helping CPS student prepare for professional careers
Chicago nonprofit helping CPS student prepare for professional careers 03:11

CHICAGO (CBS) — One man is helping Chicago's youth by funding a kitchen that is run by teenagers.

Before most kitchens in the city have fired up their grills, high school students are halfway through cooking their meals for classwork.

"There are a lot of people in this world who cannot cook. Who can't boil water. And these kids, at 16 or 17 years old, they can feed their families, they can feed their communities," said Kenneth Griffin. 

And they can feed themselves by getting jobs in the culinary industry after graduation.

This is how Griffin started his culinary career, between English and math classes.

"I went to Dunbar Vocational Career Academy, and I was a student just like them. I was trained in the art of culinary arts," he said. 

Wanting to see more kids like himself make their way into the professional world, Griffin returned to Chicago Public Schools, this time as the head of the nonprofit No Matter What.

The organization provides mentorship, funding, and extracurricular opportunities from carpentry to culinary and introduces students to international travel and summer camps at low and often times no cost for the kids.

"And it's worked. I mean, we have kids everywhere that are just like building a success about themselves," Griffin said.

In the 12 years that Griffin's been running No Matter What, they've made their way into six CPS schools and served over 1,000 students.

"We learn these kids know that you have a family outside of your family, and we love you, and we're going to work with you and make sure that you succeed no matter what," he said. 

And many of their mentors are just students who came back since no one ever leaves the family.

"They were really there for me when I was in high school, and that's helping me get through it, giving me opportunities. So I just kind of want to give back to them and just, you know, help with the future of the next people to come up," Gabby said. 

"We want to see these kids grow and succeed and let them know, no matter what they go through, no matter where they've been, they can make it. And we have shown it to all of our kids," Griffin said. 

Griffin is also a Chicago Police Department officer. A large part of No Matter What's programming involves student relationships with law enforcement. He serves as a bridge between the two communities. 

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