Thrive Chicago organizes the ecosystem of youth serving organizations and drives collective action to make systemic changes for Chicago’s youth.
Children must be supported at all stages from cradle to career in order to achieve success. Thrive Chicago believes the only way to accomplish this in a systemic way is to align efforts across sectors and among organizations working at various stages of a child’s development toward adulthood.
So far, to realize our mission, more than 600 individuals have come together, representing nearly 200 organizations, including nonprofit providers, education systems, colleges and universities, research and advocacy organizations, museums and cultural institutions, and philanthropic partners. These individuals are organized into five Change Networks, committed to work together to improve specific outcomes along a Chicagoan’s path to adulthood:
In Fall 2013, 47% of students entered kindergarten reading at or above grade level, up from 25% in 2012. We know that high-quality early childhood programs boost academic skills, foster independence, and instill a lifelong love of learning. The Kindergarten Readiness Change Network works to serve hard-to-reach families and help them take advantage of quality early learning opportunities across the city.
Many students in Chicago do not have access to diverse, high quality enrichment programming. One of Thrive Chicago’s Change Networks is working to identify the students most in need so we can connect them to high quality out-of-school time programs.
Roughly 30 percent of high school freshmen do not graduate. Our high school graduation Change Network is focused on re-engaging youth who have dropped out or are not on track to graduate.
Chicago students need extra support to pursue and persist in post-secondary education. Our Change Network has prioritized first to second year retention among first generation, minority and other vulnerable students.
Young people with law enforcement records have a harder time than their peers finding sustaining work. Our employment group is working on behalf of this group to remove employment barriers by developing alternatives to arrest and detainment, cleaning up criminal records, where possible, and changing employer hiring practices regarding young people with records.