Venture Fund News

A Better Chicago recently launched a call for applications for our Venture Fund. Venture Fund is our mechanism for making seed investments in promising, early stage nonprofits with strong leaders and in national organizations that are expanding to Chicago for the first time. We also make significant investments in successful organizations with strong track records through our Growth Fund.

Our current Venture Fund consists of The Dovetail Project, Intrinsic Schools, and VOCEL. These three organizations joined our portfolio in 2014 and were awarded grants and 12 months of management support from A Better Chicago. The three organizations have made important strides this year, and Chicago has taken notice. Below are some media highlights from our current Venture Fund grantees.

Last month, the Dovetail Project, a program that equips young low-income fathers with parenting and life skills, hosted its 11th graduation of program participants. Check out their pictures on the organization’s Facebook page. Dovetail was also featured in the Chicago Tribune this month. Sheldon Smith, Dovetail’s founder, explained the history of the program and how its model works to empower young fathers to be effective parents. Watch the whole video at the Chicago Tribune.

Intrinsic Schools, an open-enrollment public charter school that aims to prepare students from high-need communities to succeed in rigorous four-year colleges and 21st century careers, was featured in an interview on WTTW Channel 11’s Chicago Tonight last month. The interview focused on the school’s unique use of space and technology that allows for highly personalized instruction. In addition, one of Intrinsic Schools’ main architects participated in a Q&A session on the importance of transforming the physical architecture of schools. Check out the full interview at EdSurge.

VOCEL, a full day, year-round early childhood center that supports young children from low-income families to build the knowledge, skills and character traits they need to succeed in future schooling and to thrive later in life, opened its doors in the fall of 2014. During its launch year, VOCEL has led its first classroom of children in reaching age-appropriate developmental milestones, has developed invaluable relationships with those children’s families, and has continued to build a strong team. VOCEL also recently hosted its first student teacher in the classroom. Read some of her reflections on her experience with VOCEL on this blog post.

We look forward to working with these three organizations throughout the rest of the grant period and to naming the 2015 Venture Fund grantees later this year. Remember that applications to our Venture Fund end on July 31! Check out our blog post about the fund and application process and apply today!