CIS of Chicago is the leading nonprofit in the city dedicated to removing barriers so that students can unlock their potential. We are grateful for the generosity of our supporters and the commitment of our team and partners who are invested in helping students reach graduation.
Adults in his life weren’t dependable, he said, and sharing how he felt wouldn’t make a difference. Alex told her he didn’t see himself even making it past his teen years. What was the point? he told her. Jeanine made a commitment to Alex. She vowed to be consistent, supportive, and present in his life. She started meeting with him weekly and slowly building rapport with him, despite his attempts to shut her out.
That following spring, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Chicago and closed Alex’s school. Jeanine kept her commitment to Alex and called him weekly to see how he was doing. With Jeanine’s help, he navigated the stresses of remote learning and a fast-spreading virus, but more importantly, he knew that she was only a phone call away if he ever needed support. Jeanine reminded Alex that he was important, his feelings were important, and that she was there for him.
Alex finished his eighth-grade year back in the classroom, excited to be back at school and surrounded by his friends. He shared with Jeanine his interest in travel and anime and his hopes for high school. Before Alex graduated, he thanked Jeanine for not giving up on him and for being his one support system when he needed it the most. This fall, Alex will begin high school at Art In Motion, another CIS of Chicago Intensive Program school.
Jeanine served as a steady presence in Alex’s life, and her work reflects CIS of Chicago’s efforts throughout the pandemic. Our students and stakeholders were challenged during the 2020-21 school year. They endured isolation and stress from COVID-19, an economic crisis, a racial reckoning, spikes in violence, and more. And CIS’s mission of surrounding students with a community of support proved more critical than ever. Our team remained a consistent, supportive force for our students, our schools, and our community partners as they crossed uncharted territory.
The 2020-21 school year tested us to the core and brought us back to basics – living out our mission, vision, and values in all aspects of our work. And we emerged stronger, more resilient, and more dedicated than ever to supporting students on their path to graduation. This year, our efforts will positively impact more than 65,000 students, 175 Chicago Public Schools, and almost 200 community organizations. Thanks for your continued support in our mission.
Names in this story have been changed to protect student privacy.
– Lo Patrick, Senior Director of Integrated Student Supports
We provided students tailored, one-on-one support through our Intensive Program.
Student Supports Managers provided ongoing support to 803 students in the 2020-21 school year. During remote learning, Student Supports Managers provided virtual support, meeting with students individually, leading groups, facilitating lunch hour activities, and more on Google platforms. They continued connecting their school communities with programs and resources, and they made sure that families had support.
Student Supports Managers made themselves available to parents via a TeleSupport line, and thanks to grants from A Better Chicago and Jackson Financial, they provided families with emergency fund relief. Student Supports Managers also shared lists of community resources with families, including contacts for food distribution, legal aid, mental health support, telehealth, and COVID-19 testing.
During hybrid learning, Student Supports Managers returned to the school. They helped students and families navigate trauma from the pandemic and readjust to in-person learning. Of the 803 students who received ongoing, tailored support in 2020-21, 99 percent either graduated or were promoted to the next grade. Fewer than 1 percent dropped out.
“The stressors that youth have faced throughout the COVID pandemic are both familiar and new at the same time. Familiar challenges like making friends became extremely difficult, but new challenges cropped up in remote learning, like possessing adequate technology. Added to these, however, are significant traumas like the death of a family member, financial strain, and a higher degree of anxiety,” said Allison Brown, Associate Director of Integrated Student Supports. “The Intensive Program helped provide students with a measure of predictability and consistency amidst ongoing changes in their world.”
In 2020, CIS of Chicago also launched an initiative called Freshmen Rising. The initiative pairs ninth graders who received CIS services in elementary school with a dedicated Freshmen Rising Coordinator. Our Freshmen Rising Coordinator supports students with monthly check-ins, a weekly student group, structured lessons around social-emotional learning, and resources for their support systems. Research shows that if students are on track in their ninth-grade year, their odds of graduating improve significantly.
“Freshmen On Track Indicators are proven as key indicators of successful high school completion,” said Paul Fagen, Field Supervisor. “By providing group supports and individual check-ins to discuss these Indicators, our Freshmen Rising Coordinator supports these students as they make this most important shift from eighth grade to high school.”
– Robin Koelsch, Senior Director of Partnerships
We provided whole-school support through our Partnership Program.
CIS’s School Partnership Team works with school leaders to understand the types of supports their students need. Once the priorities of each school are identified, they coordinate with CIS’s Community Partnership Team to link support programs and resources directly with the school.
In 2020-21, the Partnership Team’s work was more essential than ever before. CIS of Chicago connected 168 Chicago Public Schools to services provided by 149 community partners. The resources addressed students’ social and emotional needs and had a positive impact on students’ reading and math (as documented by a 2015 gold-standard evaluation of the Partnership Program).* CIS of Chicago served 47,369 students in the 2020-21 school year.
“Our focus was on providing our school partners with the tools and resources they needed to navigate the virtual landscape, support students, and address their own mental wellbeing,” said Sucada Bell, Associate Director of School Partnerships. “Our team helped prepare school partners to host community organizations for live-virtual programing. We delivered needed amenities to students and families. And we created a space to support the needs of school staff – all during a challenging year.”
One of the ways that CIS’s School Partnership Team supported school partners was through ACTIVATE, a series of tailored virtual trainings. ACTIVATE topics addressed social-emotional learning strategies they could use as adults and even self-care. With such a challenging year for school communities, the School Partnership Team supported school partners’ needs as individuals, in addition to their needs as educators. More than 100 school partners, ranging from school counselors to vice principals, attended ACTIVATE trainings in 2020-21.
*Results of this evaluation were re-verified in a replication study conducted by the Education Lab at the University of Chicago Urban Labs in 2020.
We connected community partner resources and programs with schools who needed them the most.
In 2020-21, organizations relied on the Community Partnership Team to navigate an unprecedented educational landscape. The CIS team helped partners pivot their services to virtual platforms, and they continued linking partners with students based on schools’ unique priorities.
Community partner programming and services aligned with six focus areas: academic support; arts and culture; college and career readiness; counseling and supportive guidance; health and wellness; and parent and family engagement.
“CIS of Chicago Community Partnership Specialists provided a light for our community partners to follow as we ventured into another year of the unknown. We communicated regularly with our partners and continued to provide opportunities for training and convening,” said Karen Roddie, Associate Director of Community Partnerships. “More than ever, programs and resources provided by community partners were crucial for student success.”
In addition to physical and emotional stress, the pandemic added an economic burden onto students and families. The Partnership Team responded by increasing the provision of essential needs items. In 2020-21, the Partnership Team supported 11,365 students and families with basic needs items, including back-to-school supplies, beauty and hygiene products, and emergency fund relief thanks to Jackson Financial and A Better Chicago. This is a 186 percent increase in students and families served with in-kind donations from the previous year.
Community Partnership Specialists also provided partners with tailored support. They hosted virtual meetups and professional development trainings, called NAVIGATE. NAVIGATE trainings helped community partners with topics that schools prioritized, like hosting programming online and creating anti-racist curricula. In 2020-21, 127 community partners attended NAVIGATE trainings.
|Community Partner||Types of Programs Provided|
|&Rise||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|826CHI||College & Career Readiness|
|A Just Harvest||Fundamental Needs|
|Abrahamic Center for Cultural Education (ACCE)||Behavioral & Mental Health; College & Career Readiness|
|Adidas & Ninja||Fundamental Needs|
|Adler Planetarium||College & Career Readiness|
|African American Family Research Institute||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Ageless Eye Care||Health & Wellness|
|Alice's Kids||Fundamental Needs|
|American Heart Association||Health & Wellness|
|American Writers Museum||Arts & Culture|
|Argonne National Laboratory||College & Career Readiness|
|Art Institute of Chicago||Arts & Culture|
|Between Friends||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago||College & Career Readiness|
|Blessings in a Backpack||Fundamental Needs|
|Bottom Line||College & Career Readiness|
|Bullying Prevention Awareness 365||Fundamental Needs|
|Candor Health Education||Health & Wellness|
|Caron Treatment Centers||Health & Wellness|
|Catholic Charities||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|CDPH - Tropical Optical||Health & Wellness|
|Center on Halsted||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Chicago Area Health Education Center||College & Career Readiness|
|Chicago Behavioral Hospital||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Chicago Chess Foundation||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Chicago Children's Advocacy Center||Behavioral & Mental Health; Health & Wellness|
|Chicago Community Oral Health Forum||Fundamental Needs; Health & Wellness|
|Chicago Department of Transportation||Health & Wellness|
|Chicago Institute's Children's Grief Services||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Chicago Jazz Philharmonic||Arts & Culture|
|Chicago Opera Theater||Arts & Culture|
|Chicago Police Department||Behavioral & Mental Health; Health & Wellness|
|Chicago Public Schools - Crisis Team||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Chicago Run||Health & Wellness|
|Chicago Student Invention Convention||College & Career Readiness|
|Chicago Women's Health Center||Health & Wellness|
|Chiro One||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|CircEsteem||College & Career Readiness|
|Common Threads||Health & Wellness|
|CommunityHealth||Health & Wellness|
|Cook County Farm Bureau||Health & Wellness; College & Career Readiness|
|Cook County State's Attorney||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|CPS Lives||Arts & Culture|
|Cradles to Crayons||Fundamental Needs|
|Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE)||College & Career Readiness|
|Delta Dental of Illinois||Fundamental Needs; Health & Wellness|
|Design Dance||Arts & Culture|
|Don't Be A Monster||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Economic Awareness Council||College & Career Readiness|
|Elyssa's Mission||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater||Arts & Culture|
|Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago||Health & Wellness|
|Erie Family Health Center||Health & Wellness; Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Erika's Lighthouse||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|First Book||College & Career Readiness|
|Fit Kids||Health & Wellness|
|FUSE||College & Career Readiness|
|Future Founders Foundation||College & Career Readiness|
|Girls in the Game||Health & Wellness|
|Girls Who Code||College & Career Readiness|
|Global Project Hope||Health & Wellness|
|Guardian Lane||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Garfield Park Behavioral Hospital/Hartgrove Hospital||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|HEART||Behavioral & Mental Health; College & Career Readiness|
|Her Drive, Co.||Fundamental Needs|
|Hubbard Street Dance Chicago||Art & Culture|
|Illinois Green Alliance||College & Career Readiness|
|Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center||Behavioral & Mental Health; College & Career Readiness|
|Illinois Safe Schools Alliance Program of PHIMC||Behavioral & Mental Health; College & Career Readiness|
|Imagination Theater||Behavioral & Mental Health; Health & Wellness|
|Insight Project for Kids||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|International Children's Media Center||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|International Music Foundation||Arts & Culture|
|Intuit: Museum of Outsider Art||Arts & Culture|
|Jackson Financial||Fundamental Needs|
|Jaclyn Silverman, Photography||Arts & Culture|
|Joffrey Ballet||Arts & Culture|
|Junior Achievement||College & Career Readiness|
|Kids First Chicago||College & Career Readiness|
|Lakeview Pantry||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|LeadersUp||College & Career Readiness|
|Literacy Works||College & Career Readiness|
|Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago||Health & Wellness|
|Lutheran Social Services of Illinois||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Lyric Opera of Chicago||Arts & Culture|
|MeMA Music||Arts & Culture|
|Metropolitan Family Services||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Metropolitan Water Reclamation Dis. of Greater Chi||College & Career Readiness|
|Mobile Care Chicago||Health & Wellness|
|Multiplying Good||College & Career Readiness|
|Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)||Arts & Culture|
|Music of the Baroque||Arts & Culture|
|My Familytree Storybook||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|NAMI Chicago||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|Narrative 4||Behavioral & Mental Health|
|National Veterans Art Museum||Arts & Culture|
|Natya Dance Theatre||Arts & Culture|
|Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony (CSO)||Arts & Culture|
|Northlight Theatre||Arts & Culture|
|Oak Park River Forest Infant Welfare Society||Health & Wellness|
|Open Books||College & Career Readiness|