Growing our portfolio

A Better Chicago is delighted to announce the addition of two nonprofits to its portfolio: One Million Degrees and Reading In Motion. With this expansion, A Better Chicago now invests in 11 organizations that are providing low-income Chicagoans with the education and skills they need to succeed. One Million Degrees and Reading In Motion were selected through A Better Chicago’s rigorous due diligence process, which evaluates an organization’s program effectiveness, leadership, operational efficiency and scalability.

One Million Degrees empowers low-income, highly motivated community college students to succeed in school, in work and in life. One Million Degrees provides its scholars with financial assistance, life-skills training and academic supports that are critical to their success in the classroom and beyond. With a community college graduation rate of only 13% in Chicago, there is significant need for One Million Degrees’ programming. The organization has achieved significant positive outcomes, with participants outpacing comparable populations in graduating from community college and continuing on to earn a bachelor’s degree. Of the scholars entering One Million Degrees’ program from FY10 to FY12, 71% earned an associate’s degree or certificate and 23% transferred and are on track toward a bachelor’s degree. In addition to growth capital, A Better Chicago will provide management support to help One Million Degrees develop a growth strategy and build its presence in the region. A Better Chicago is investing $150,000, plus management support, in One Million Degrees over an initial 12-month grant period.

Reading In Motion partners with teachers and schools to get at-risk kindergarten and first-grade students reading at or above grade level. The organization’s highly scalable program model consistently drives impressive gains in student literacy through its unique teacher coaching and specialized curriculum. A recent study showed that the same Chicago teachers who got 63% of their students on grade level in 2010 using traditional methods were able to get 93% of their students on grade level in 2011 after implementing Reading In Motion’s curriculum. Reading In Motion plans to grow from nearly 4,000 students in FY13 to 10,000 students in FY19. Over an initial 12-month grant period, A Better Chicago is investing $150,000, plus management support, in Reading In Motion.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with One Million Degrees and Reading In Motion,” remarked Alli Henry, managing director at A Better Chicago. “These organizations are truly making a difference for low-income Chicagoans, and we are excited to help them scale up and maximize their impact.”