Three Chicago Nonprofits Get $55 Million To Help Low-Income Students Graduate, Largest Gift Ever For Communities In Schools

Three Chicago Nonprofits Get $55 Million to Help Low-Income Students Graduate, Largest Gift Ever for Communities in Schools

AbbVie, a leading pharmaceutical company, has pledged $55 million to support the educational success of low-income students. This generous donation, announced on Friday, will be distributed among three organizations in Chicago: Communities in Schools, City Year, and the University of Chicago Education Lab.

A portion of the funds will be allocated to enhancing City Year’s national math and literacy initiatives, as well as expanding its STEAM program in San Jose, California.

Communities in Schools, a non-profit organization, will be the recipient of $30 million, marking the largest contribution in the organization’s history. Within this amount, $6 million will be granted to Communities in Schools of Chicago, allowing them to deploy full-time social workers in an additional 16 high-poverty schools. These professionals will provide academic and social-emotional support to struggling students.

The primary objective of Communities in Schools is to help underprivileged students graduate from high school by connecting them with caring adults who can offer both social and academic assistance. Jane Mentzinger, the Executive Director of Communities in Schools of Chicago, described the donation as "transformational" and expressed enthusiasm about expanding their services to at-risk students.

The remaining $14 million will be utilized to expand Communities in Schools in other regions. Local chapters will have the opportunity to compete for 10 to 20 grants. Dale Erquiaga, the President and CEO of Communities in Schools, explained that AbbVie specifically sought out organizations with a successful track record and a commitment to evaluating their impact.

Erquiaga stated that AbbVie appreciated the evidence-based model of Communities in Schools and believed that this collaboration would offer valuable insights into the positive effects of integrated student supports nationwide.

According to reports from Communities in Schools, 91 percent of high school seniors who received support from the organization during the 2015-16 school year successfully graduated from high school or obtained a GED. Additionally, 80 percent saw improved attendance, while 88 percent demonstrated academic improvement. In comparison, the national graduation rate for high school students is approximately 84 percent, with an even lower rate for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The $55 million donation will also benefit two other organizations with similar missions, City Year and the University of Chicago Education Lab.

City Year Chicago will receive $5 million to expand its program within the Chicago Public Schools. City Year is a national AmeriCorps program that places young adults in schools to serve as role models for students, providing academic, social, and emotional support.

The San Jose branch of City Year will receive $1.6 million to expand its afterschool STEAM program, allowing them to reach even more students. The remaining $3.4 million will be used to enhance and expand City Year’s math and literacy programs, which are implemented across the nation.

Pete Settelmayer, the Executive Director of City Year San Jose, expressed his excitement about the funding, stating that it would enable them to expose an additional 1,250 students to the fields of science and technology. Settelmayer highlighted the opportunities available in Silicon Valley and emphasized the potential for these students to excel as they progress through high school and college.

As part of the University of Chicago Urban Labs, the Education Lab’s objective is to study and evaluate innovative programs within the Chicago Public Schools to improve student outcomes. AbbVie will contribute $15 million towards this effort, specifically focusing on assessing the impact of Communities in Schools’ initiative to increase high school graduation rates over the next three years.

AbbVie, headquartered in North Chicago with additional offices in San Jose, is a global pharmaceutical company specializing in immunology, oncology, virology, and neuroscience. The corporation remains committed to charitable giving, with a pledge to make $350 million in donations throughout 2018. This includes previous contributions of $100 million to the Ronald McDonald House Charities and organizations providing relief to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

The selection of these three non-profit organizations by AbbVie was based on their proven track record of enhancing student outcomes and their ability to collaborate effectively with one another. Melissa Walsh, AbbVie’s Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Philanthropy, expressed the company’s belief in leveraging the strengths of these organizations to make a meaningful and lasting impact on education.

AbbVie, a biopharmaceutical company, operates with a strong foundation in research. Our approach to every aspect of our work is guided by data and evidence-based methodologies, according to Walsh, as she shared with .

Furthermore, Walsh emphasized that the same principles are applied to AbbVie’s philanthropic efforts. The company carefully designs a remarkable collection of programs tailored to meet the needs of the students they aim to support.

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  • davidwong

    David Wong is a 29-year-old educator and blogger who focuses on helping students learn in creative and interesting ways. He has a background in teaching and has been blogging since 2006. David's work has been featured on a variety of websites, including Lifehack, Dumb Little Man, and The Huffington Post.