Painting a New Portrait of of Urban Renewal in Chicago


AEO and SCA Combine Art and Conservation

CHICAGO, IL (April 10, 2014) – Student volunteers will create new play areas at a Chicago park while a renowned street artist creates a colorful mural at a local school during an Alternative Spring Break (ASB) project on April 12 conducted by the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and American Eagle Outfitters.

Under the theme of “HeART This City,” contemporary artists are spraying dynamic outdoor murals this spring while SCA volunteers come to the aid of urban greenscapes – from national parks to vacant lots – in four U.S. cities. Volunteers in Chicago will transform a vacant lot at Piotrowski Park, planting native plants, installing a protective fence, mulching, removing debris and painting a cement wall. Volunteers will also spruce up the area around Our Lady of Tepeyac School by creating a butterfly garden with native plants, building a playscape area and mulching. Chicago-based graffiti artist Nina Polumba, currently in exhibition at galleries across the Windy City, will paint a vibrant mural on one of the school’s walls.

The projects at Our Lady of Tepeyac School, which is located at 2228 S Whipple St., and Piotrowski Park, 4247 W. 31st St., begin at 10:00 a.m. and end at 4:00 p.m. Volunteers may register at

“Our urban areas children need more green spaces where children can play, so SCA is proud to be a part of a movement that means so much to this great city,” says SCA President Dale Penny. “We are especially pleased to bring our Alternative Spring Breaks to Chicago because it is paramount that we conserve all of nature, not only our national parks but the very communities where we live and work.”

Located in the South Lawndale community in what is generally referred to as Little Village, Piotrowski Park totals nearly 23 acres and features a convertible domed pool for year round use, a gymnasium, fitness center and meeting rooms. Outside, the park offers baseball fields, athletic fields for soccer or football, playground, tennis courts and a new skate park.

Our Lady of Tepeyac School was created in 1990 when two Catholic schools merged.The Chicago project is the second SCA-American Eagle ASB collaboration this spring. The first was in San Francisco on March 22, where more than 150 volunteers cleared debris and prepared a native garden at Golden Gate Park while graffiti artist Tony Spok (formerly known as Chor Boogie) created a mural. Other upcoming ASB projects are:

  • New Orleans, LA: April 19. Chalmette National Cemetery and Louis Armstrong Park. Featured artist: Totem, whose distinctive style and robotic armored letters are recognized around the globe. Service project: Cleaning headstones at Chalmette National Cemetery.
  • Pittsburgh, PA: April 26. Location to be determined. Featured artist: Ed Trask, distinguished by his symbolic portraits of themes dealing with preservation, history and spirituality. Service project: support an ongoing effort to restore the park’s native plants and make it more welcoming for local residents and wildlife.

All artists will spray only MTN paint, which meets the most rigorous requirements for preserving the environment and health of graffiti writers.

“Alternative Spring Break is a tremendous partnership between American Eagle and SCA that focuses on protecting our environment and encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors,” says Marcie Eberhart, director of the American Eagle Outfitters Foundation. “We are delighted to bring this movement to Chicago and other iconic cities across America.”

Alternative Spring Break is part of an expanded partnership between American Eagle Outfitters and SCA, which involves in-store promotion of SCA activities in more than 800 American Eagle Outfitters stores. In previous years, ASB students planted endangered Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park, repaired hiking trails in the Grand Canyon and restored vital wildlife habitat in the Santa Monica Mountains, Everglades, Padre Island and more.

Read a Q&A with Artist Nina Palumba here

About American Eagle Outfitters, Inc.

American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (NYSE: AEO) is a leading global specialty retailer offering high-quality, on-trend clothing, accessories and personal care products at affordable prices under its American Eagle Outfitters® and Aerie® brands. The company operates more than 1,000 stores in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, and Hong Kong, and ships to 81 countries worldwide through its websites. American Eagle Outfitters and Aerie merchandise also is available at 69 licensed international franchise stores in 12 countries. For more information, please visit

About the Student Conservation Association

The Student Conservation Association is the only national organization that develops tomorrow’s conservation leaders by providing high school and college students with service opportunities in all 50 states, from urban communities to national parks and forests. More than 4,000 SCA members annually render over two million hours of service to America’s public lands. Since 1957, SCA has helped to develop new generations of conservation leaders, inspire lifelong stewardship, and save the planet. SCA is headquartered in Washington, DC and maintains offices in Anchorage, AK, Boise, ID, Chicago, IL, Charlestown, NH, Oakland, CA, Pittsburgh, PA, and Seattle, WA.