CAAEL is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that has been providing a full spectrum of academic and athletic programs to the Chicagoland area's most at-risk youth since 1976. EACH year, CAAEL offers 900+ events for approximately 5,000 students from 30 Illinois Counties. Research shows that students who participate in athletic or other activity programs achieve higher grade point averages, miss fewer days of school, and are more self-confident. Through wonderful organizations such as the IHSA, hundreds of thousands of Illinois students represent their schools in athletic and activity programs ranging from basketball to debate. The problem has always been limited access for at-risk youth. Each year, thousands of Illinois' at-risk students are excluded from the educational mainstream and unable to participate in these life- enhancing athletic and activity programs. These alternative education students, ages 7-21, may be: - Aggressive or withdrawn - Emotionally disturbed or learning disabled - Behaviorally challenging or socially isolated - Gang involved and/or drug dependent - Depressed or truant. To fill this gap, CAAEL sponsors events that emphasize sportsmanship, teamwork, and personal responsibility instead of winning and losing. CAAEL gives educators a strong motivator for working with at-risk youth as students have to meet attendance, academic, and behavioral eligibility criteria throughout the week/school day in order to participate in CAAEL practices and events, all of which are held during the school day. CAAEL also gives educators a powerful set of instructional tools for changing lives as participants learn how to: - Interact positively with peers - Show respect for authority figures - Work as a team - Demonstrate compassion and tolerance - Win and lose gracefully - Make thoughtful decisions and accept both the positive and negative consequences of their decisions. And finally, CAAEL is not an after- school program. Events are integrated into each school's daily schedule and incentive system. Attendance, academic, and behavioral eligibility criteria must be met each week for students to participate in CAAEL events. Events are delivered through each partner schools' instructional staff, utilizing their own physical resources and transportation systems, thus making CAAEL extremely cost-effective. Sportsmanship is the main focus of every event, as the largest trophies are for the sportsmanship winners and CAAEL sportsmanship ribbons are awarded from the students of one team to students on the other team after every game.