For the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation, 2015 proved the year of developing community partnerships and learning about the unique and invaluable work community-based organizations are doing to support public education in Chicago. With help from last year’s grantees, Chicago Teachers Union Foundation carried out its mission “to reinforce public education and advocate for school initiatives in Chicago by building strategic alliances and partnerships that echo Chicago communities.”
I visited over forty-five community-based organizations throughout Chicago, awarding $1.9M in grant funding to forty of those organizations. Our 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.
Consistently, I saw unsung organizations brimming with dedication, passion, and pride in their work for the communities that they served. Their demonstrated efforts of community programming, community engagement, and volunteerism is important to recognize because this is who WE are here in Chicago. We are a group of communities that welcome, empower, serve and support our children, educators and parents. The dedicated members of our communities are “what is right” with our Chicago neighborhoods. They work diligently addressing issues that plague our communities with unwavering commitment. They celebrate and embrace their uniqueness, remain true to their purpose while offering their communities opportunities for growth and innovation.
This kind of community work influenced this year’s principal theme, “Breaking Ground.” Breaking Ground captures the work accomplished at the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation to date and speaks to what is ahead of us. From building a new infrastructure and expansion of the Foundation’s leadership team to breaking ground and restoration of an old building soon to become the new home to Chicago Teachers Union Foundation. As you can see, we are busy!
More so, this year our partners and alliances have an opportunity to create programs and/or support the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation through one or more of our four thematic areas, Public Education, Restorative Justice, Societal Values, and Professional Development for public school educators. The Foundation will continue to build upon its 2015 groundwork by creating an ecosystem of grantees, educators, students, and community stakeholders who can confidently support us in our efforts.
As a lifelong resident of Chicago and a graduate of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), I’ve always believed that great learning happens in the classroom and that our educators and parents are critical to engaging students in their educational journey. Educators and parents couldn’t do this without the support of community-based organizations’ commitment to creative ways of encouraging change, growth, and progress in our communities. These changes are moving us forward and keeping us at the forefront of the groundbreaking professional development of educators, pioneering approach to policy change and trailblazing approaches to incorporating youth voices into the community work.
Together, partners and stakeholders alike aid us to appeal to the next generation of educators, support parents, more importantly, our students as they learn how to challenge issues of poverty, social injustices, and education inequities within their communities. I’m proud to serve our educators, parents, stakeholders, and students as the Executive Director of the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation and I’m committed to pursuing innovative and inspiring ways to meet the evolving needs of our public school educators, students, and parents.
Chicago Teachers Union Foundation
Class of ’82
Well High Schools