Our journey to affect change as a charitable nonprofit organization in the education sector commenced in 1963 when the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) built the Fewkes Tower located on the near Northside for the purpose of providing affordable subsidized housing and services for retired Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers.
In 1965 the ownership of the Fewkes was transferred to Chicago Teachers Union Tower Corporation who established §501(c)(2) not-for-profit organization with the purpose to be transferred to the Foundation. By 1969, the transfer was complete and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) successfully created us, the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation, a 501 (c)(4) public charity whose purpose was to subsidized retired and disabled teachers’ medical costs, assistance for the children of teachers as well as assist underprivileged Chicago Public School (CPS) students.
For the next forty years, The Chicago Teachers Union Foundation carried out its purpose despite low occupancy of the Fewkes Towers. By 2014, out of 224 apartments, seven were target resident occupied. After much deliberation, the Fewkes Tower quickly sold, with all proceeds of sale deposited into the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation from the Chicago Teachers Union Tower Corporation.
This catapulted the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation’s in carrying out its mission to the advancement, enhancement, and support of public education. Off the cusp of the ownership trade, the Foundation proudly affirmed its standing as a charitable foundation, granting approximately $1M to twenty-two charitable and educational organizations including a supporting Infinite Scholars program, which provides scholarships to CPS students. In 2015, the Foundation’s Executive Director, Carmen Curet, visited over fifty community-based organizations throughout Chicago, awarding $1.9M in grant funding to forty-six of those organizations. The grantees offered community service that ranged from creating opportunities for unemployed youth, promoting the develop of new education policies that would support the reduction of school expulsions and suspensions to offering after-school arts program and leadership training workshops for students and parents.
Today, the Foundation’s overarching goal is to create an ecosystem of grantees, educators, students, and community stakeholders through one or more of our four thematic areas, Public Education, Restorative Justice, Societal Values, and Professional Development for public school educators. We support community programs that are strategic, creative, and inclusive in their community programming that supports public education on variable tiers. We also seek to secure funding from donors whose funding focus aligns with our mission and four thematic areas so that we can continue to support the public education and Chicago communities. Strategic partnerships and alliances will play a pivotal role in furthering the Foundation’s mission as well. These are partnerships established between grantees to create robust programming.