Spirit of Giving Award
Each year, Communities In Schools of Chicago presents the Spirit of Giving Award to both a community partner and a school partner who consistently go above and beyond to positively impact the lives of Chicago public-school students.
Spirit of Giving Award winners largely do this work under the radar – day in and day out – simply because it is the right thing to do. In 2023, the Spirit of Giving Award was presented to:
The Peace Exchange
Since 2015, the Peace Exchange has partnered with CIS of Chicago to promote conflict resolution in Chicago Public Schools. Their programs help students build skills around peacekeeping, tolerance, and nonviolence, and with CIS’ support, the Peace Exchange now serves 11 schools and more than 4,500 students across the CIS network.
CIS provided the Peace Exchange with support to expand their program from one to four sessions, and this has created space for their team to build relationships with more students and more school communities. One CIS school partner reflected on the impact of The Peace Exchange: “The program does a great job teaching students how to communicate and handle conflict. They target the conversations based on the grade level and (the program staff) knows how to keep them engaged.”
The Peace Exchange team is creative, collaborative, and responsive. Whether it is providing video testimonials about CIS’ partnership, writing letters of support to help CIS secure needed resources, or sharing best practices or being part of panel discussions, The Peace Exchange is a great resource – and partner – to schools, students, and CIS of Chicago.
Yvette Farmer, Ruggles Elementary School
Ms. Yvette Farmer has served as CIS’ point-of-contact at Ruggles Elementary School for the entirety of the school’s 14-year partnership with CIS. She is a trusted leader and a collaborator. Through her support and CIS’ partnership, Ruggles Elementary has gained access to a variety of support programs.
Ms. Farmer worked with CIS to provide career education programs across grade levels, and she arranged for the Shedd Aquarium, a CIS partner, to visit Ruggles. The Shedd Aquarium visit created an unforgettable experience for the school’s second graders. “It’s never too early to bring opportunities and inspiration to our children,” Ms. Farmer reflected.
Thanks to Ms. Farmer serving as CIS’ main liaison, thousands of Ruggles students have had their lives enriched by a variety of learning experiences and resources. When CIS of Chicago needed student participation at key organizational events or sought a trusted school partner willing to pilot a new program, Ms. Farmer was a key collaborator.