Chicago's public-school students and their families have endured unprecedented challenges since the start of the decade. A global pandemic, increased violence, mounting mental health issues, and rising economic insecurity have taken a significant toll on our schools and communities. According to recent federal and state data, years of steady academic progress have been erased.

More than ever before, the work of Communities In Schools (CIS) of Chicago is imperative to ensuring that students have access to the supports they need to overcome any systemic barriers to learning, unlock their potential, and achieve in school and life. We believe the way forward, for both our young people and our city, is grounded in leveraging positive relationships and investing in our students’ success.

Letter To Our Supporters

During the 2021-22 academic year, CIS of Chicago focused on re-acclimating our students to in-person learning and supporting school partners, community partners, and families with navigating the return to the school building.

Through the dedication of our mission-driven team, the collaboration of our partners, and the generosity of our supporters, CIS of Chicago continued to form trusting relationships with students who needed extra help to stay on the path to graduation. Mia was one of the nearly 58,000 students who benefited from our organization’s work.

Honoring Tenacity in 2021-22

“CIS’ school-based team prioritized re-engagement during the 2021-22 school year. We welcomed our students back to the school building and helped them develop a strong sense of community with their peers, their teachers, and other caring adults so they could focus on their learning. We partnered with families and school leaders to ensure that students had everything they needed to succeed. And we continued to support our students with setting goals and creating plans to achieve their goals through innovative services and outreach.”

– Shipra Panicker, Senior Director of Integrated Student Supports

Intensive Support

We provided students with individual and group guidance, in collaboration with schools’ behavioral health teams, through our Intensive Program. Services addressed barriers to healthy youth development.

“Relationships, a core value of CIS of Chicago, are foundational to our work. It is not enough to have access. We must also build relationships that support our students, school communities, and community partners so that access is just the beginning, paving the way for the greatest possible impact. We have to lean on each other and recognize that no one person achieves alone. It is in community, together and through our relationships, that we find success.”

– Robin Koelsch, Senior Director of Partnerships

School Partnerships

We served as a trusted partner for nearly a third of Chicago public schools through our Partnership Program.

Community Partnerships

We connected community partner resources and programs with schools who needed them the most.

When Xochitl was in sixth grade, she had a hard time not letting her emotions drive her actions. She started meeting regularly with Juanita, a CIS of Chicago Student Supports Manager based at her Southwest Side school. Together, they discussed ways to respond to conflict without fighting. Juanita helped build Xochitl’s sense of self-worth and helped her connect with positive online outlets, especially when she was dealing with the loss of her godfather.

Xochitl graduated from eighth grade in 2021 – passing all her classes and having only missed one day of school that year. She admitted to Juanita that she was finally starting to love herself, and Juanita couldn’t be happier. She has always recognized Xochitl’s amazing potential, caring heart, and natural leadership abilities and is excited about what the future holds for her.

Innovation and Agility

The 2021-22 school year brought opportunities – students reunited with teachers, young people surrounded by their peers, and CIS school-based staff back in the classroom, providing direct services. But challenges from COVID-19 remained, in addition to heightened stress from other issues like community violence and economic insecurity, making the need for CIS of Chicago’s work greater than ever.

By The Numbers (2021-22)


students benefited from connected programs and services


students and families received essential needs items like school supplies, hygiene products, and direct cash assistance


programs and services were connected to students


school partners


community partners


Intensive Program sites


case-managed students

0 %

of case-managed students graduated or were promoted

< 0 %

of case-managed students dropped out

Fiscal Year 2022 Revenue was $9.3 Million

Government and Schools
Special Events

Recognizing Our Students and Partners

CIS of Chicago celebrates young people and the caring adults in their lives with two annual awards: the Al Ward Spirit of Giving Award and the Carnahan Family Tenacity Awards.

“At the Finnegan Family Foundation, we are committed to supporting the well-being of Chicago's youth. We have long believed that promoting equitable education opportunities is a great way to do that. The approach that CIS takes, which provides resources that wouldn't otherwise be available in the Chicago public schools they support, is one that resonates with us. We are glad CIS is working diligently to make sure that our young people have what they need to stay in school and succeed in life.” – Katherine Finnegan, President, Finnegan Family Foundation

– Katherine Finnegan, President, Finnegan Family Foundation

“When we see the news, we are struck by what a difficult time kids have been through in the last few years. It’s been even more difficult for the students that CIS serves. We are proud to be longtime supporters of the work that CIS does to support our young people.”

– Bon and Holly French

Investors in Our Work

CIS supporters remained unwavering in their support of Chicago students as schools reopened in 2021-22. They attended in-person school visits and witnessed CIS’s work in action. They opened their corporate offices to students for mentoring and career development sessions. They engaged in supply drives to ensure that students and families had the materials they needed to succeed. They participated in quarterly Investor Calls and stayed informed about issues affecting schools and communities. And they attended our Annual Event honoring student tenacity.

CIS supporters gave their time, talent, and financial support to the organization so that students could reengage with their learning, stay on the path to graduation, and find continued success in school and life. Because of their engagement and dedication to our mission, our team was able to continue providing support to tens of thousands of young people.

In late 2021, CIS of Chicago received a major $4 million gift from MacKenzie Scott’s charitable fund. This gift, from one of the country’s leading philanthropists, further validates CIS of Chicago’s work and its commitment to educational equity. It also helps build a foundation for sustaining our work, responding to current needs, and growing for continued impact.

Leaders in Learning Donors (2021-22)

Board of Directors (2021-22)

CIS of Chicago’s Board of Directors works directly with our leadership team to ensure that the organization cements its position as the leading nonprofit empowering the city’s young people to graduate prepared for continued success and fulfillment. We share our gratitude to the following board members for their service during the 2021-22 academic year, their leadership, and their dedication to our mission.

Mark Brady (Board Chair) Managing Director, Investment Banking William Blair & Company, LLC
Jim Welch (Board Vice Chair) Co-CEO Nexgen Packaging LLC
Michelle Brown (Board Treasurer) CEO Eighth & Quincy
Brian Moncrief (Board Secretary) Managing Director, Credit Group Ares Management Corporation
Dr. Sherron J. Bibbie Retired Principal Chicago Public Schools
Don Bielinski Managing Partner SMB Interim Management LLC
Craig A. Bondy Managing Director GTCR LLC
Jodi Caro General Counsel, Chief Risk & Compliance Officer Ulta Beauty
Lan Nguyen Chaplin, Ph.D. Professor, Medill School Northwestern University
Barbara M. Ford Partner Phoenix Strategic Advisors
John M. Greening Associate Professor, Medill School Northwestern University
Jonathan Guryan Lawyer Taylor Professor of Education and Social Policy Northwestern University
Brian Good Private Investor and ESG Advisory
Ryan D. Harris Partner Kirkland & Ellis LLP
John M. Hawn Retired – Former Director of Operations YUM! Brands, Inc.
Torrence L. Hinton President Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas
Alain LeCoque Principal, Chicago Colliers International Group Inc.
Ralph Leslie EVP, CFO, & COO The Pew Charitable Trusts
Bradley H. Meyers Managing Director GCM Grosvenor
Valli Perera Retired Partner Deloitte
David Schuppan Senior Partner Vistria Group

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