CHICAGO – As Chicagoans continue to grapple with the lasting consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chicago-area-native and nonprofit leader Becky Betts begins her tenure as the chief marketing and external affairs officer of A Better Chicago. The venture philanthropy fund with a mission to fight poverty recently launched a collaborative initiative to invest in programs supporting students from communities disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus.
“I’m excited to bring my years of experience to an innovative funder working to address fundamental issues in the city I love,” said Betts. “Our young people deserve to have access to the holistic supports that make it possible for them to thrive in every aspect of life. I’m proud to join an organization that recognizes the importance of strategic investments to end cycles of poverty and create opportunity for low-income, Black, and Latinx youth. Sustained, focused investments in promising innovations like those A Better Chicago is making through the Chicago Design Challenge are critical to giving our youth many strong paths to success.”
A strategic and results-oriented leader, Betts has a proven track record of developing and launching innovative social impact initiatives for both nonprofits and businesses. In her new role, Betts will elevate A Better Chicago’s brand at the local and national levels while maintaining and cultivating relationships across sectors to support the organization’s mission to fight poverty with opportunity.
“We are honored to have Becky join the team and share her lifelong commitment to improving the lives of Chicago’s youth,” said Beth Swanson, CEO of A Better Chicago. “A Better Chicago is deepening its investments in the city, establishing exciting new partnerships that broaden our reach, and responding quickly to better support low-income, Black, and Latinx youth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With Becky on the team, we will be able to continue to cultivate relationships across the city to support our youth, to shift how philanthropists engage with historically underserved communities, and to reimagine how we understand and respond to the generational cycles of poverty in Chicago.”
In 2016, in collaboration with former U.S. Secretary of Education and Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan, Betts launched Chicago CRED, an initiative of Emerson Collective focused on reducing gun violence through philanthropy, direct service programs, community engagement, and advocacy. As the organization’s chief of staff, she led the creation of a direct service, anti-violence program and established collaborative partnerships with city agencies and community-based nonprofits to enable rapid expansion, including employment of more than 5,000 high-school students each summer through the One Summer program.
Betts currently serves on the board of directors for both Advance Illinois, a nonprofit policy and advocacy organization that works towards building a healthy public education system for Illinois, and Fishtank Learning, a national nonprofit focused on providing open-sourced, high-quality instructional content for K-12 educators. She also served for more than a decade as a board member of the Umoja Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization focused on preparing high-school students from Chicago’s West Side for college success and meaningful careers.
Prior to her time at Chicago CRED, Betts provided strategic guidance to a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies as a management consultant with PwC and A.T. Kearney. She earned her master’s in business administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Business at Northwestern University and her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University.
About A Better Chicago
A Better Chicago is fighting poverty by leveraging the collective power of Chicagoans who want to make our city more equitable for everyone. We raise funds through public donations and direct those resources to support low-income, underserved communities. We find high-potential, high-impact programs and leaders that serve young people from cradle to career. Then, we invest both dollars and strategic support to empower organizations to grow and make an even greater impact. We know that giving our young people the tools they need to thrive—steady access to essential needs, holistic social-emotional supports, a world-class education, a family-sustaining wage—can lead to breaking the cycle of poverty for this generation and generations to come.
Since 2010, we have raised more than $40 million, invested in dozens of nonprofit organizations and supported over 100 capacity-building projects—ranging from strategic planning to leadership development—to strengthen the organizational capacity of our grantees. In total, our portfolio serves over 37,000 youth annually in the Chicago area. Learn more at abetterchicago.org.
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