Malik Graduation, Westcott Elementary


High school graduation is the True North of Communities In Schools (CIS) of Chicago. At core, the work that we do every day, in schools and beyond, is grounded in our enduring vision that every public-school student in Chicago graduates from high school prepared for success.

Chavara with Student

Letter to Our Supporters

CIS of Chicago is a nonprofit organization focused on promoting high school graduation in the city. But our work wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of our talented team, without the commitment of our stakeholders in the community, nor without the generosity of our supporters. We invite you to read about the impact we had during this unprecedented school year.

Read entire letter.

“As students and school communities were impacted by the pandemic and social injustice in the world, our goal was to remain a steady presence and a source of support. We addressed the challenges we faced through focusing on the needs of our students, families, and school communities. By leveraging strong relationships and delivering quality programming, our team led with innovation and dedication. We provided tailored supports for our students, virtual groups centered on creativity, and professional development that enhanced trauma-informed practices. We shifted our group and individual services to remote and virtual platforms, expanded our reach with initiatives such as family TeleSupport, and maintained our valuable connections with administrators and school staff.”
– Aisha Robinson, Senior Director of Integrated Student Supports

Aisha with Nasje

Intensive Support

Whether students are learning in school or at home, we’re there with them through our Intensive Program.

Read more.

Chicago Skyline

Rising to the Challenge

New School Orientation

School Partnerships

Our Partnership Program is focused on providing whole-school supports and creating meaningful connections between Chicago Public Schools and community organizations that address school needs. The School Partnership Team and Community Partnership Team work in tandem to ensure that students receive the resources that help them maintain safe and healthy lives and stay engaged with their learning – in schools and beyond.

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School Partners 2020-21

“Perseverance. That is a word CIS of Chicago and our Partnership Team have fully embraced. When challenges arise, we persevere and rise to meet them. During the difficulties that arose during the last year, the Partnership Team leaned into our determination, reminding ourselves that when things get hard, we get to be there for students, for schools, and for our community partners. Rising to meet the recent challenges and readying for what’s next is what our team does – and will always do – for students in Chicago.”
– Robin Koelsch, Senior Director of Partnerships

Community Partnerships

From museums and performance groups, to health education and college-readiness program providers, community organizations relied on our Partnership Program more than ever in 2020 to navigate an unprecedented educational landscape.

Read more.

Community Partners 2019-20

“In December 2019, our Board of Directors passed a new three-year strategic plan. Ninety days later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Chicago and the rest of the United States. While our new plan considered many potential risks, a global pandemic was not something we planned for. On the other hand, a key theme of the plan was innovation, and that entrepreneurial ethos has served our organization well since March 2020. In a very short time, our team completely adapted its work, enabling our organization to continue supporting students and families during one of the most challenging times in recent history.”
– Bartholomew St. John, Chief Innovation and Communications Officer

Innovating and Adapting

2020 posed many challenges to students and families, but CIS of Chicago responded with hope, resiliency, and innovation. Our team members pivoted their work to meet student, community partner, and school needs.

One of the ways that CIS of Chicago supported school communities this year, both when Chicago Public Schools operated in-person and when the district shifted to remote learning, was offering Youth Mental Health First Aid training to teachers and school staff. Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches adults who work with young people how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse disorders – and how to help them connect with the appropriate care.

CIS of Chicago staff also provided teachers with Developmental Relationships training, as well as professional development opportunities in student trauma, bullying, addiction, social media, and the importance of self-care. This work was made possible with a grant from the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation.

Student on Computer

Together for Students Initiative

In 2018, Communities In Schools of Chicago was awarded a grant to become an active collaborator in the Together for Students Initiative. Together for Students focuses on giving Chicago students access to engaging learning opportunities that enable them to develop the critical social and emotional learning (SEL) skills they need to succeed.

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By The Numbers

Students Benefited from Connected Programs and Services


Programs and Services Connected to Students


School Partners


Community Partners


Student and Families Received Essential Needs Items




Intensive Program



Case-managed students graduated or were promoted


Case-managed students dropped out

Fiscal Year 2020 Revenue Without Donor Restrictions was $5.7 million

Government and
Tenacity Award Celebration, Rowe Elementary

Recognition Programs

When it comes to recognizing student success in schools, CIS of Chicago celebrates young people and the caring adults in their lives with two annual awards.

Read more.
Inspiring Futures

Students View of Downtown Chicago

Investors in Our Work

We could not provide the programming that we do – or have the impact that we do – without the generous and ongoing contributions of our philanthropic supporters. We recognize that there are many fine organizations that people can choose to support, and we are grateful that they choose to invest in ours. In turn, we work hard to make sure that we deploy the funds to maximize our impact.

We are especially grateful to our supporters for their response during the pandemic. They have been gracious, responsive, and flexible. Whenever they can, they have renewed or even increased their support, which allows us to continue to keep students in school and on the path to high school graduation.

“Polk Bros. Foundation is proud to be a long-time philanthropic partner to CIS of Chicago. As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding, CIS of Chicago is continuing its important work addressing resource gaps in Chicago Public Schools and fostering healing relationships that help Chicago’s most vulnerable students build their resiliency and overcome obstacles. Together, we are committed to helping young people reach their full potential and achieve success in school and in their lives.”
– Suzanne Doornbos Kerbow, Program Director for Education at Polk Bros. Foundation

Board of Directors FY20
July 2019 - June 2020

Barbara M. Ford
(Board Chairman)
FordPartners, LLC

Jim Welch
(Board Vice Chairman)
Nexgen Packaging LLC

Bradley H. Meyers
(Board Treasurer)
Managing Director,
Public Market Investments
Grosvenor Capital Management LP

Brian Moncrief
(Board Secretary)
Managing Director,
Credit Group
Ares Management Corporation

Craig A. Bondy
Managing Director

Mark Brady
Managing Director,
Investment Banking  
William Blair & Company LLC

Michelle Brown
VP of Finance,
Chief Financial Officer - Commercial
United Airlines

Jodi J. Caro
Senior Vice President,
General Counsel and Secretary
Ulta Beauty

Robert P. Conlon
Founding Partner
Walker Wilcox Matousek LLP

Brian W. Good
Managing Director,
Tradeable Credit
THL Credit Inc.

John M. Greening
Associate Professor,
Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing and Communications
Northwestern University

Jonathan Guryan
Professor of Human Development and Social Policy,
Chair of the Institute for Policy Research's Program on Education Policy
Northwestern University

Ryan D. Harris
Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Torrence L. Hinton
Director - Operations & Maintenance
WEC Energy Group Inc.

Alain LeCoque
Principal, Chicago
Colliers International Group, Inc.

Scott G. Pasquini
Managing Director
Madison Dearborn Partners LLC

Valli Perera
Formerly Deloitte Touch Tohmatsu Limited

Matthew E. Steinmetz
Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Kareem K.W.O.E. Wells
Chief Executive Officer
Flow Entertainment, Inc.

Alicia West
Vice President,
Region Sales
Altria Group Inc.

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