2020 Impact Report

Despite significant change and instability, COVID-19 did not slowed down our programming in 2020. The social conditions around COVID-19 have made our work more important than ever before. The BIPOC families that we serve continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Our programs, which focus on supporting children and youth’s mental health and wellbeing, are essential to combat the increased stress and instability these young people are facing. Read on to learn how Bright Promises responded to this increased need in 2020.

A graphical depiction of 2020 impact. 9519 Children and youth, 4274 parents and caregivers, 26 partner organizations and 340 program sites. 96% children served living in low-income households, 86% parents who report they are using skills learned through the SEL at home program in their homes. 84% parents who report that they have seen positive changes in their homes due to participation in the SEL at home program.

Where We Served

A parent reading with their child
A parent and child working together in an outdoor socially-distanced classroom.
A family celebrating Halloween at a socially-distanced gathering

SEL@Home: Social Emotional Learning at Home

SEL@Home: Social Emotional Learning at Home engages children’s first and most important teachers – their parents/caregivers, to create safe, positive home environments and support children’s healthy social and emotional development. Focusing on social emotional learning (SEL) during this time of crisis is helping children and parents regain a sense of calm, improve parent-child relationships, and increase safety and stability in the home. In addition, the process of developing social and emotional skills helps promote school readiness, academic success, positive coping skills, and appropriate cognitive development

Despite the increased challenges created by COVID-19, 100% of our partners were able to pivot their programs to continue to safely serve families during the pandemic and SEL@Home programs took place at 288 sites across Metropolitan Chicago. Bright Promises worked with our partners to adapt SEL programs to reach families virtually, helping organizations to create on-line tools/programming rooted in SEL to address the stresses of COVID-19 and providing  additional services to help parents alleviate their children's fears and maintain positive home environments during the ongoing crisis.

2020 SEL@Home Program Partners:

  • Changing Children's Worlds Foundation
  • Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center
  • Gads Hill Center
  • Illinois Action for Children
  • Illinois Afterschool Network
  • Logan Square Neighborhood Association
  • Primo Center for Women and Children
  • Refugee One
  • Tuesday's Child
  • Youth Opportunity United
  • Literature for All of Us

Young children in a socially-distanced classroom
Young children wearing masks walk down the sidewalk
A young girl in a mask holds a donated laptop

EQUIP: Early Childhood Education Quality Improvement Program

Bright Promises Early Childhood Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP) provides support to early childhood education agencies to implement sustainable quality improvements that directly benefit low-income children between the ages of birth to five.  

The conditions around COVID-19 have made access to high-quality early childhood education more important than ever before, especially for the families we serve who continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The stress and instability caused by the pandemic places these young children at significantly higher risk of falling behind in their academic, social, and emotional development. These detrimental impacts can be mitigated through participation in high-quality early childhood education programs. 

During 2020, Bright Promises also gave emergency grants to early childhood centers serving low-income families to meet increased costs caused by the pandemic, ensuring these centers were able to remain open and operating so first responders and other essential workers would have a safe place for their children.

2020 EQUIP Program Partners:

  • Casa Central
  • Carol Robertson Center for Learning
  • Chicago Commons Association
  • Children's Place Association
  • Chinese American Service League
  • Christopher House
  • Northwestern University Settlement Association
  • Onward Neighborhood House
Two women in masks holding up children's books
Women wearing masks collecting supplies during COVID-19
A woman wearing a mask giving the "thumbs up" signal.

COVID-19 Response Fund

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bright Promises has supported the immediate needs of low-income children and families through the Bright Promises COVID-19 Response Fund. Bright Promises response efforts have been focused on four main areas of pressing, unmet need:

  1. Domestic abuse/child abuse prevention and services 
  2.  Food/shelter for homeless families 
  3. Mental health support for children and youth 
  4. Childcare for first responders and essential workers

Four rounds of emergency grants were made during 2020 to support organizations serving low-income families across Metropolitan Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. These grants have addressed the urgent needs of low-income children and families, while also providing a lifeline to the agencies serving these families, ensuring that the infrastructure necessary for recovery remains intact.

COVID-19 Response Fund Emergency Grant Recipients:

  • Children's Research Triangle
  • Family Rescue
  • Primo Center for Women and Children 
  • Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center
  • Channing Child Care Academy
  • Illinois Action for Children

What's Next in 2021?

SEL@Home Collaborative Action Project:

Since launching the SEL@Home initiative, Bright Promises and our partners have gained extensive knowledge and expertise in implementing effective social emotional learning (SEL) programs in diverse communities. Through the SEL@Home Collaborative Action Project, Bright Promises is creating opportunities for our program partners to teach and train other organizations how to incorporate evaluated and proven-effective SEL practices into their programs for children and families. Beginning in 2020, Bright Promises launched a 2-year project to actively expand and disseminate SEL principles so that more agencies can provide these services, and more children and families can benefit.  This new project is in addition to ongoing SEL@Home programming that Bright Promises is supporting at more than 200 sites across Chicagoland. 

“Our goal is to form a true coalition so that we can work together to actively disseminate best practices to other agencies,” Lauren Krieg, Bright Promises Senior Program Office explained, “Together, we are exploring ways to collaborate, share information and materials, and figure out how to educate other organizations about why intentional SEL education is so important for parents and caregivers.”

A screenshot of a Zoom meeting.
A screenshot of a Zoom meeting
Focus Panel Process Determines Latest Focused Funding Initiative

Bright Promises employs a unique and innovative model to address the most pressing issues impacting low-income Metropolitan Chicago children that are currently under-recognized and under-funded in Illinois. Every four years, Bright Promises convenes Focus Panels of experts to select a single issue that negatively impacts children in Illinois that is not well-addressed or understood.

In 2020, Bright Promises convened two separate panels of professionals with expertise in multiple disciplines having to do with children and youth. The expert panels were comprised of leaders in the fields of early childhood education, children’s mental health, policy and advocacy, homelessness, childhood trauma, violence prevention, pediatric medicine, immigrant and refugee services, and disability services. Through a process of guided discussion, brainstorming and voting, the panel honed in on a single issue. The second panel was comprised of experts with experience and knowledge within the issue identified by the first panel. Using the recommendations of these experts and through further research, Bright Promises selected strategies to address the root of the issue with the goal of supporting programs that create lasting, sustainable changes in practice that will benefit children for the rest of their lives.

The public announcement of Bright Promises latest Focused Funding issue will take place in March, 2021. We wish to thank all the experts who offered their knowledge and passion to this process. Click here for a full list of experts who participated on the 2020 Focus Funding panels.

2020 Award Recipients

Each year, Bright Promises Foundation takes time to recognize individuals who go above and beyond to create opportunities for Chicago children and youth. The 2020 Awards honored Debbie Frisch, foster mother and Founder of HelloBaby; Nancy Aardema, community organizer and outgoing Executive Director of Logan Square Neighborhood Association; and Jahmal Cole, activist and Founder/CEO of My Block, My Hood, My City.

Watch the 2020 Awards honorees’ remarks

About the 2020 Honorees

Champion for Children Award  - Debbie Frisch

Debbie Frisch has served under-resourced families with young children for 20+ years as a nonprofit volunteer, board director, board officer and as foster mother to 56 children. In 2017 she opened HelloBaby, the first free-standing, fee-free drop-in play space for ages birth to 3 years and their caregivers. With 15,000+ visits, HelloBaby is a change agent in the Woodlawn community, providing a welcoming, safe space that promotes development of social, emotional, language, math and motor skills.

Lifetime Achievement Award  - Nancy Aardema

With over 35 years experience as a community organizer, Nancy Aardema is widely recognized as an expert in the field. She has served as the Executive Director of Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) for 33 years, building the community school movement, reshaping education organizing, and creating mutual support networks for thousands of families. At LSNA, Nancy helped establish the Parent Mentor Program, the Community Schools model, and the Grow Your Own Teachers Program, connecting it all to a holistic organizing plan for housing, immigration, wellness, and economic development.

Elevating Youth Voices Award – Jahmal Cole

Jahmal Cole is a champion of social justice. His mission is to build a more interconnected Chicago on the pillars of service and education. As the founder and CEO of My Block My Hood My City, Jahmal is the creator of an exposure-based education program for underprivileged youth and a network of volunteer initiatives that serve Chicago communities year-round. Cole is also the author of The Torch of Decency: Rekindling the Spirit of Community Organizations, Exposure Is Key: Solving Violence By Exposing Teens to Opportunities, and It’s Not Regular.

2020 Contributed Income

2020 Donors

All donors are listed alphabetically. Each and every gift that we receive, of every size, is an investment in a bright future for Chicago's children and makes a difference in the lives of children in need. We thank all of our donors for their generous support.

Anne Abramson and Basil Chaltis
Juliet Alejandre
Veronica Appleton
Ivna Aragao
Peter and Lucy Ascoli
Nestor Avendano
Mark Bacharach
Samueal Barash
Prue and Frank Beidler
Alan Bell
Syril Benkin
Robin Berkson
Scott and Emily Bishop
Paul and Peggy Bodine
Shirley Boton
Mckinzee Boyd
Vern Broders and Francee Harrington
Andreason BrownIna Burd
Erica Byrne
Rebecca Cairns
Evette Cardona
Lola Coke
Sharon Collins
Joni and Mark Croll
Rachel Damon
GIllian Darlow
Ed Davies
George Davis
Brenda Dillard
Sharon DuganSarah Duncan
Amanda Eder
Marilyn Eisenberg
Esther Emmerman
Susan Enright-DavisRich Excell
Elizabeth Feldman
Bob Finley
Sunny Fischer
Mark and Christine Fisher
Helene Fishman
Elizabeth Foster and Michael Walsh
Anita Futterman
Gaylord and William Gieseke
Linda Gilkerson and Don Lamb
Phyllis Glink
Andrew Gluck
Susan GohlKim Grady
Jeff Groenwold
Ada Mary Gugenheim
Carolyn Hadesman
Edward Hamburg and Stacey Poland
Brian Hanson
Nancy Hare
Patrick Hennely
Robyn Hensel
Deborah and Elzie Higginbottom
Betty Joy

Nancy Juda
Jonathan Kaden
Loretta Kaplan
Suzanne Kerbow
Priscilla Kersten
Barbara Kessler
Joan Klaus
Vickie and Irv Korey
David and Susan Kreisman
Arpan Kundu
John and Jill Levi
Emma LiRon Manderschied
Carol Master
Mark McKinley
Ricardo Millet
Patricia Monaghan
Andrea Moonsammy
Nancy Snyder
Rodger and Janet Owen
Helene and Aaron Paris
Neil Peck
Jill and Grant Peters
Teresa Prim
Margot and Tom Pritzker
Gigi and Michael Pritzker Pucker
Edmond Rainey
Eleanor Reiter
Sendhil Revuluri and Venu Gupta
Michael and Benita Romano
Jay and Bari Rosenbloom
David and Susie Rubenstein
Shari Runner
Steven Sager
Chris and Karen Schenk, Seaman
Nancy Schimmel
Larry and Ellen Schor
Kristin Schrepferman
Barbara Shaw
Ann Smith
Louise K. Smith
Whitman Soule and Julie Coplon
Fred and Nikki Stein
Emma Terrazas
Karen Travis
Christy Uchida
Kim Van Horn
Cheryl VanAusdal
Vernon Vanderzee
Suzanne Velasquez
Carmen Velasquez
Tim and Laura Walker
Sandi Weiskirch
Donna Wilkens
Jon Will
Allison Youngblood
Nannette and Jim Zander
Karen Zupko

Foundation Partners

Christopher Family Foundation
Elizabeth Louise Smith Fund
Finnegan Family Foundation
Francis Beidler III and Prudence R. Beidler Foundation
Irving Harris Foundation
Hyman and Susan Feldman Foundation
Kreisman Family Foundation
Margot and Thomas Pritzker Family Foundation
Paul M. Angell Foundation
Polk Bros. Foundation
Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation
Spencer Foundation

Note: To request a change in acknowledgment of your gift, please email Katherine at katherine.dreher@brightpromises.org or call 312-550-2775

2020 Board of Directors

Gaylord Gieseke, President

Marilyn Eisenberg, Vice President & Fundraising and Marketing Committee Chair

Ed Davies, Secretary & Program and Advocacy Committee Chair

Jay Rosenbloom, Treasurer & Finance Committee Chair

Andreason Brown
Scott Bishop
Rich Excell
Ellizabeth Foster
Caroline Gibbons
Nancy Snyder
Sendhil Revuluri
Shari Runner, Board Development Committee Chair
Tim Walker
Jon Will
Nannette Zander, Awards Committee Chair

2020 Legacy Council

Prue Beidler
Peggy Bodine
Paul Bodine
Barbara Bowman
Vern Broders
Marjorie Craig Benton
Bob Finley
Francia Harrington
Rodger Owen
Janet Owen
Neil Peck
Gigi Pritzker
Judith Walker Kendrick
Bernice Weissbourd

2020 Staff

Iris Krieg, Executive Director

Lauren Krieg, Senior Program Officer

Shilpa Bavikatte, EQUIP Program Officer

Katherine (Dreher) Korey, Director of Development & Marketing

Nettie Snowden, Finance Manager

Betty Jo Joy, Grants Manager

Donna Kilpatrick, Office Manager