New Portfolio Investments

2016 has been a big year for A Better Chicago’s portfolio.  We added one new Growth Fund grantee and four new Venture Fund grantees. Through the Growth Fund, A Better Chicago makes significant investments to grow successful organizations with strong track records. The Venture Fund provides an opportunity for A Better Chicago to make seed investments in promising, early stage nonprofits and in national organizations expanding to Chicago for the first time. Organizations in both funds undergo a rigorous due diligence process and receive unrestricted grants and customized management support.

Read on for brief introductions to our new grantees. Over the coming weeks, we will share a more in-depth look at each organization. In the meantime, please visit the individual grantee pages on our website to learn more about the inspiring work these organizations are doing in Chicago. 

1.       Chicago Scholars

Chicago Scholars aspires to develop the next generation of leaders who will transform their neighborhoods and the city of Chicago through a model that supports scholars to and through college. The organization selects, trains, and mentors academically ambitious students from under-resourced communities to enroll in and graduate from college. Under the leadership of CEO Dominique Jordan Turner, Chicago Scholars currently serves 1,570 students and seeks to expand its impact to 2,500 students by FY19.

Chicago Scholars joined the Growth Fund with an initial investment of $150,000 from A Better Chicago.

2.       College Possible

College Possible provides intensive coaching and support to low-income students to help them get into and graduate from college. Founded in 2000 by Jim McCorkell, College Possible was started in St. Paul and has now expanded to six cities, most recently Chicago. The organization currently serves 145 students in Chicago. Under the local leadership of executive director Christine Poorman, College Possible Chicago has had a successful first year of operation and will continue to develop funder relationships and school partnerships in order to reach 2,400 students annually by FY20.

College Possible joined the Venture Fund with an initial investment of $100,000 from A Better Chicago.

3.       GROWCommunity

GROWCommunity (GROW) is a community-wide effort that seeks to build a high-quality K-12 system across Chicago’s North Side. The initiative aims to strengthen school organization, infrastructure and enrollment across the neighborhood school system including Amundsen High School, Lake View High School and the 17 elementary schools that feed into them. GROW’s long-term vision is to establish a model that can be implemented in other communities across the city. Still in its early stages of organizational development, GROW seeks to codify its program model and develop organizational infrastructure under the leadership of executive director Sarah Makela over the coming year.

GROWCommunity joined the Venture Fund with an initial investment of $100,000 from A Better Chicago.

4.       SAGA Innovations

SAGA Innovations (SAGA) provides high-dosage in-school math tutoring to 9th and 10th grade students who are at risk of falling behind academically. Tutors work with students to close existing knowledge gaps, build basic skills, and prepare students for grade-level success. SAGA represents a compelling investment for A Better Chicago because of its strong evidence base. The organization has demonstrated significant impact on indicators predictive of high school graduation and college enrollment. Founded in 2014 by Alan Safran and Antonio Gutierrez, SAGA is currently implementing in nine schools across Chicago. SAGA is committed to expanding the organization’s reach while maintaining the program’s rigorous model as they grow from serving nearly 800 students in FY16 to over 1,600 students in FY17.

SAGA joined the Venture Fund with an initial investment of $250,000 from A Better Chicago.

5.       Strive for College

Strive for College aims to remove barriers to college access by delivering high-quality, virtual mentoring to low-income high school juniors and seniors who are academically qualified to attend college but lack access to the quality support they need to successfully navigate the college admissions and financial aid process. Through a partnership with Chicago Public Schools, Strive seeks to serve thousands of Chicago students over the next several years. Strive’s founder, president and CEO, Michael Carter, is a rising leader who has been successful in building partnerships and establishing Strive as a player in the national college access space. Launched in Chicago in FY16, Strive is currently serving 104 students and aspires to expand to 5,000 students in FY17.

Strive for College joined the Venture Fund with an initial investment of $100,000 from A Better Chicago.

To learn more about the work of A Better Chicago and the organizations in our portfolio, stay connected with us by: