2021 Impact Report

During another year that once again can only be described as unprecedented, Bright Promises has grown in every part of our work. We have continued improving, expanding, and even launching brand new initiatives to answer the under-recognized and under-addressed needs of children and youth. 

Bright Promises believes it takes an ecosystem of strong, sustainable and impactful community organizations working together to help kids thrive. This is why Bright Promises partners with community organizations across Chicagoland, providing them with the funding and capacity building support needed to better serve children and youth, during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are so proud to work with some of the most innovative and impactful organizations in Chicagoland and to support programs that are changing the lives of thousands of children and families. Read on to learn about our impact last year...

Where We Served

Impact By the Numbers

SEL@Home: Social Emotional Learning at Home

We all want to rebuild children’s skills and knowledge from the past two years.
But this is only possible by investing in the well-being of children and their parents and caregivers. For children and adults alike, social emotional learning (SEL) offers a powerful means to explore and express our emotions, build relationships, and support each other. Focusing on SEL during this time of recovery can help children develop essential skills that will support their wellbeing and success now and in the future.

Since 2016, Bright Promises has been investing in programs that empower parents and caregivers as they learn to be champions for social emotional learning in their homes, schools, and communities. Bright Promises investment in high-quality, effective SEL programming last year alone could generate a long-term return of up to $2.5 million when accounting for the improved mental and physical health, decreased juvenile crime, and increased lifetime earning among the children and youth we serve.

2020 - 2021 SEL@Home Partner Organizations:

  • Chicago Children's Advocacy Center
  • Enlace Chicago
  • Gads Hill Center
  • Illinois Action for Children
  • Illinois After School Network
  • Logan Square Neighborhood Association
  • Literature for All of Us
  • Primo Center
  • RefugeeOne
  • Tuesday's Child

Our Investments in Action:
Logan Square Parents and Caregivers Determine the Future of their Families, School, and Community

Bright Promises is helping Logan Square Neighborhood Association to change the narrative and practices on parent leadership. The Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) Parent Mentor Program is a nationally recognized engagement model that builds deep and lasting relationships between students, teachers, and parents. Bright Promises has been partnering with LSNA since 2019 to embed social emotional learning into this program, so that Parent Mentors are equipped to support all aspects of children’s social emotional health and growth, at home and in the classroom.

This partnership has helped drive transformative parent engagement that is benefitting more than 25,000 children in youth in more than 200 schools across Illinois and the United States. 

Healing, Leading, Changing - Addressing Childhood Trauma Caused by Racism

Childhood trauma is more than having one bad experience. It is an accumulation of experiences that lead to toxic stress which, if left unaddressed, harms children and prevents them from thriving now and in the future. Racism is an under-recognized and often invisible form of childhood trauma.

Bright Promises is investing in solutions that address youth trauma caused by racism. We are providing community organizations with the capital and support to develop, test, implement, evaluate, document, and disseminate strategies for addressing childhood trauma caused by racism. By building the capacity of organizations while also identifying and sharing best practices for addressing youth trauma caused by racism, we are working to drive systemic change.

Over the next six years, Bright Promises will invest more than $2 million in community organizations to help scale existing programs, create new programs, and broadly share best practices for addressing the trauma caused by racism. According to the 2016 study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation "Self-Healing Communities", this investment in trauma-informed care for BIPOC children and youth in Metro Chicago could yield up to $59.5 million in savings from the public services costs, lost tax revenue, and productivity loss that result when childhood trauma is left unaddressed.

2021 Healing, Leading, Changing Program Partners:

  • Arab American Action Network
  • Chicago Freedom School
  • Girls Inc. of Chicago
  • Northwest Center
Our Investments in Action: The Arab American Action Network

The Arab American Action Network Youth Organizing Project engages over 300 14 to 19-year-old youth of all genders, the majority of whom are Arab. Arab American Action Network is using Bright Promises support to build their capacity to help youth become empowered to support their healing from trauma caused by racism. 

Bright Promises grant supports the expansion of the “Campaign to End Racial Profiling”. This project combats the racism and racial profiling that many Arab youth and their families experience at the hands of law enforcement. The campaign combines peer education, youth art, community outreach, and direct action.

“While our youth organizing staff has experience with healing work as part of political organizing, the emphasis on the connection between racism, racial profiling, and trauma is new as a result of our work with Bright Promises.”

- Arab American Action Network

EQUIP: Early Childhood Education Quality Improvement Program

The importance of early childhood education is clear: if a child is already at a disadvantage before kindergarten, they are much more likely to struggle throughout the rest of their life. Furthermore, researchers, experts, and policymakers all agree that we must invest in early childhood education to ensure a strong workforce, robust economy, and safe communities in the future. This is why Bright Promises created the Early Childhood Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP) to support early childhood education agencies focused on improving the lives of economically vulnerable children in Cook County. 

The social conditions fostered by COVID-19 have made access to high-quality early childhood education more important than ever before, requiring early childhood centers to respond to a shifting array of needs and offer services that encompass entire families. With the number of demands put on childcare centers, the ability to have resources earmarked for quality and capacity enhancement rather than "putting out fires" is essential. In 2021, through the Early Childhood Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP), Bright Promises partnered with 7 early childhood agencies across Metro Chicago to help address their quality and capacity improvement needs.

Examples of 2021 EQUIP quality-improvement programs included:

  • Developing a more comprehensive system for early detection for students with special needs for children birth to three years old in the Riverdale community.
  • Workshops to guide, support, and educate agency staff in the subjects of social-emotional learning, trauma-informed care, and culture of calm at early child centers in Humboldt Park, Dolton, and South Shore.
  • Providing tools to teachers to integrate equity into the early childhood classroom curriculum at early childhood centers in Back of the Yards, Humboldt Park, and Pilsen.

2021 EQUIP Early Childhood Education Program Partners:

  • Chicago Children's Advocacy Center
  • Chicago Commons
  • Children’s Home + Aid
  • Chicago Youth Center
  • Christopher House
  • Onward House
  • Under Carrey’s Care

Our Investments in Action: EQUIP is a Critical Source of Support for Early Childhood Centers

Even with increasing awareness about the importance of quality early childhood education, there are very few opportunities for early childhood education centers in Illinois to receive support specifically for quality and capacity improvement. An evaluation of EQUIP completed in 2021 confirmed that this program continues to be one of few sources of support available to early childhood centers specifically for quality improvements.

“Without this grant, we would be ill-equipped to face the demands that many children are presenting in the classroom, and we would have limited resources and information to pass along to families.”

- EQUIP Grantee

What's Next in 2022?

SEL@Home Collaborative Action Project:

The SEL@Home Collaborative Action Project is a 2-year initiative to actively expand and disseminate social emotional learning best practices and principles so that more agencies can effectively provide these services, and more children and families can benefit. Through this effort, Bright Promises and our partner organizations are creating an online resource hub that will inform and guide parents and caregivers of children of different ages and abilities, as well as professionals in the field, on where to find current social emotional learning resources and programming. 

This project will help to increase parents’ and caregivers’ access to mutual support networks and support the development of leadership capacity among parents and caregivers, with the greatest focus on investing in Black, Latinx, and immigrant communities that have been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis. The resource hub is expected to launch in Summer 2022.

Expanding the Healing, Leading, Changing Initiative

In 2022, Bright Promises will welcome our second cohort of partner organizations to the Healing, Leading, Changing initiative. While each of our partner organizations engages the youth they serve and their community in different ways, every program we support is focused on these four research-based steps to help children and youth heal from racial trauma and promote resiliency:

  1. Feel Safe: Organizations must recognize the signs and symptoms of racial trauma and take specific steps to let BIPOC youth know they are safe, welcome, and visible. Youth need safe spaces where they are validated, and their identities are accepted. 
  2. Acknowledge: Youth need to be given the opportunity to understand how racism impacts their lives and circumstances. This includes learning about how institutional racism, systemic racism, and interpersonal racism impacts them across many spheres of their lives, families, and communities.
  3. Affirm Feelings: Youth need time and support to process their emotions, and to understand that their experiences and feelings are valid. Collective healing is effective.
  4. Become Empowered: Self-advocacy and activism are powerful forms of healing. Youth need supportive spaces where they are encouraged to feel their own self-worth and to take action to resist racism and lead community change.

The first cohort of organizations participating in the Healing, Leading, Changing initiative already excel at the first three steps to promote healing and resiliency from racial trauma: acknowledging racism, helping youth feel safe, and validating their feelings through their programs. Therefore, this first cohort is focused on step four: helping the youth they serve become empowered, expanding opportunities for self-advocacy, and engaging in activism to promote healing and resiliency. Future cohorts will include organizations focused on the first three steps in the healing process, such that all organizations participating in this initiative will learn and benefit from one another’s knowledge and experience.

Watch It Again: "Confronting Racism" Webinar Series and 2022 Awards

“Confronting Racism” Webinar Series

Confronting Racism: Causes and Strategies for Addressing Race Based Trauma in Children

Trauma caused by racism, if left unaddressed, can cause lifelong damage to the physical and mental health of young people. The good news - caring adults can help to build protective factors that mitigate and even reverse the impact of trauma caused by racism on children and youth. Gain understanding about how this issue impacts children and youth in our communities, and learn how you can help.

Featuring Expert Panelists:

  • Clinton Boyd, Jr.,Ph.D. Postdoctoral Associate, The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University
  • Aimee Hilado, Ph.D., LCSW Clinical Director, RefugeeOne Wellness Program & Associate Professor, Northeastern Illinois University
  • Amber Mason, Ph.D. Director of Evaluation, Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation (PIE) Org
  • Alec Ross, LCSW, Senior Director of Clinical Services, The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University
  • Moderated by: Ed Davies, Director of Power of Fathers, Children's Home + Aid

Confronting Racism: Helping Youth Heal from Racism-Based Trauma through Empowerment and Activism

Racism can cause significant and chronic traumatic stress in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) children and youth. Helping BIPOC youth to exercise their own agency and supporting youth to feel empowered to bring about equity are important and effective ways to both support healing from racism-based trauma and to give rise to the change we need as a society. 

Featuring Expert Panelists:

  • Nadiah Alyafai, Youth Organizer, Arab American Action Network
  • Tony Alverado Rivera, Executive Director, Chicago Freedom School
  • Carol Sharp, Director of Programs, Girls Inc. of Chicago
  • Moderated by:  Dr. Colleen Cicchetti Ph.D., Executive Director of Center for Childhood Resilience and Clinical Psychologist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Bright Promises 2021 Awards Honors Chicago Changemakers

At the Bright Promises 2021 Awards hosted last October, hundreds of people gathered in-person and virtually to celebrate the people and organizations who are making a real difference in the lives of Chicago children and youth. 

In 2021, we were honored changemakers including:

  • Xavier McElrath-Bey, Co-Executive Director of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth (2021 Champion for Children Award)
  • Brenda Myers-Powell, Founder and Co-Executive Director of The Dreamcatcher Foundation (2021 Lifetime Achievement Award)
  • Berto Aguayo, Founder of Increase the Peace (2021 Elevating Youth Voices Award)
  • Meade Palidofsky, Founder and outgoing Artistic Director of Storycatcher's Theater (Bright Promises Foundation Visionary Award)

Bright Promises thanks our 2021 Awards sponsors, especially our Presenting sponsors Azteca Foods Inc. and the David and Susan Kreisman Foundation. We would also like to offer special thanks to the 2021 Awards Co-Chairs Michelle Morales and Sarah Duncan, the members of the Host Committee, the many volunteers who helped make this celebration possible, the 2021 Awards Selection Committee for their time and thoughtful participation.

2021 Awards Selection Committee:

  • Prue Beidler, Independent Philanthropy Professional
  • Eddie Bocanegra, Senior Director, Heartland Alliance READI Chicago
  • Evette Cardona, Vice President, Polk Bros. Foundation
  • Rich Excell, Instructor of Finance, University of Illinois
  • Alex Kotlowitz, Author and Journalist
  • Baronica Roberson, Chief Operating Officer, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation
  • Scheherazade Tillet, Founder, A Long Walk Home
  • Jon Will, Founder & CEO, Jon N. Will Associates Financial Services
  • Nannette Zander, Vice President, Azteca Foods Inc.

2021 Financials

Thanks to our 150+ year legacy, Bright Promises has a longstanding fund that covers 100% of our operating costs, so that every dollar of every donation we receive goes directly to programs that help change the narrative for thousands of our city’s most vulnerable children and youth.

2021 Expenses

For every dollar spent on fundraising in 2021, Bright Promises invested $2.50 in programs for Chicago children and youth.

2021 Contributed Income

2021 Donors

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

All donors are listed alphabetically. To request a change in acknowledgment of your gift, please email Katherine at katherine.dreher@brightpromises.org or call 312-550-2775.

Ami and Will Allen
Margaret Anderson
Anonymous, in honor of Caroline Gibbons
Cyd Archer
Peter and Lucy Ascoli
Mark Bacharach
Meghan Baer
Barash Family
Lorraine Barba
Chris Bensinger
Rosa Berardi
Katie Bernabei
Syril Beskin
Latha Bhaskara
Scott and Emily Bishop
Heidi Bloom
Paul and Peggy Bodine
Shirley Boton, in honor of Marilyn Eisenberg
Elizabeth Branch Dyson
Andreason Brown
Clare Butterfield
Samuel Carl
Steven Casey
Abramson Family Fund
Chris Chandler
Gregory Chappell
Dee Dee Chesley
Leslie Ramyk Conforti
Rachelle Cooper
Judy Cottle
Mark and Joni Croll
Clarissa Cutler
Shelley Davis, in honor of Sarah Duncan
Donald Dew
Marilyn Eisenberg
Tom and Victoria Eley
Sue Enright-Davis
Sarah Eriksen
Rich and Carolyn Excell
Linda Falotico
Elizabeth and Henry Feldman,
in honor of Gaylord Gieseke

Bob and Barbara Finley
Sunny Fischer
Alison Fitzgerald
The Foster Walsh Family
Debbie Frisch
Maricela Garcia
Caroline Gibbons
Gaylord and William Gieseke
Linda Gilkerson and Don Lamb
Geoffrey Gist
Susan Gohl
Verneé Green
Ginger and Hollis Griffin
Ellen Griffin
Srikar Guntaka
Lisa Hadesman
Edward Hamburg and Stacey Poland Hamburg
Brian Hanson and Karen Alter-Hanson
James Hardy
Pat Hennelly
Kenneth Hill
Susan Irion, in honor of Gaylord Gieseke
Nancy Juda and Jens Brasch
Mariame Kaba
Loretta and Allan Kaplan
Ryan Kavanaugh
Sheryl Kelso
Norman Livingston Kerr
Helen Kessler

 Kelly Kleiman
Vickie and Irv Korey, in honor of Ethan Korey
David Korman
Betty Kritikos
Paul Kuhn
Josef and Margot Lakonishok
Anna L. Langhans
Suzanne Laskowski
John and Jill Levi
Andrew Lindstad
Carlyle Madden
Tara Magner
Hoy and Patricia McConnell, in honor of Gaylord Gieseke
Xavier McElrath-Bey, in memory of Pedro Martinez
Liz Mckay
Mark McKinley
Patricia Monaghan
Anna Musci
Heidi Nast, in honor of Meade Palidofsky
Eric and Moira Neild
Helene and Aaron Paris
S. Neil Peck
Jill and Grant Peters
Geoffrey Peterson
Chris and Nancy Poinsatte
Janice Promer, in honor of Nancy Snyder
Diana and Bruce Rauner
Krishnaiah Revuluri
Sendhil Revuluri and Venu Gupta
Gris Reyes
Baronica Roberson
Jay and Bari Rosenbloom
Philip and Cynthia Rudoplh, in honor of Nancy Snyder
Ann Rundle
Shari Runner
Tara Sabol
M. Steven Sager
Chris Schenk and Karen Seaman
Nancy Schimmel
Andrew Schmits
Jack Segal
Pamela Sheffield
Laurie and Jim Shults, in honor of Christa Bolt
Louise K. Smith, in honor of Nancy Snyder
Nancy Nolden Snyder
Whitman Soule and Julie Coplon
Jerome Stermer
Susan B. Stern
Arshele Stevens
Dr. Bradley Stolbach
Spencer Strup
James Swinerton
Amanda Vallejo
Kimberly Van Horn
Vernon Vanderzee
Carmen Velasquez
Suzanne Velasquez
Jay Wade
Tim Walker
Shirley and Donald Wehr
Michael and Sandra Weiskirch
Donna Wilkens
Nikki Will Stein
Jon Will and Ada Mary Gugenheim
Daphne Williams
JoAnn Woods
Carol Wyant
Allison Youngblood
Nannette and Jim Zander
Dr. & Mrs Charles Zugerman, in honor of Rodger and Janet Owen

Foundation Partners

Paul M. Angell Foundation
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
Leo S. Guthman Fund
David and Susan Kreisman Family Foundation
Mikva Rosenberg Charitable Fund
Margot and Thomas Pritzker Family Foundation
Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation
MacArthur 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

2021 Board of Directors

Gaylord Gieseke, President
Marilyn Eisenberg, Vice President
Jay Rosenbloom, Treasurer, Finance Committee Chair

Scott W. Bishop
Andreason Brown
Richard Excell 
Caroline Gibbons 
Ken Jennings
Sendhil Revuluri
Baronica Roberson
Shari Runner, Board Development Committee Chair
Nancy Nolden Snyder, Fundraising and Marketing Committee Chair
Amanda Vallejo
Tim Walker 
Jon Will
Nannette Zander, Awards Committee Chair

2021 Legacy Council

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

2021 Staff

Iris Krieg, Executive Director

Lauren Krieg, Senior Program Officer

Richard Tran, EQUIP Program Officer

Katherine (Dreher) Korey, Director of Development & Communications

Nettie Snowden, Finance Manager

Betty Jo Joy, Grants Manager

Donna Kilpatrick, Office Manager

Recognizing Iris Krieg

Iris Krieg, who served with distinction as the Executive Director of Bright Promises for 13 years, announced she would step down at the end of 2021. 

“My decision to leave Bright Promises was a difficult one for me,” says Krieg, “Bright Promises is poised for significant growth in its programming and impact on children. I have been pleased to be a partner in bringing Bright Promises to the brink of these possibilities. With new staff leadership, Bright Promises will be able to fully realize its potential.”

During her 13-year tenure, Iris propelled Bright Promises to new levels of success. She focused the Foundation’s grantmaking to address the most pressing issues Chicagoland children and youth face, tapping the expertise of leaders in the various fields focused on children and youth to drive innovation in children’s services. She also championed grantmaking that goes beyond just writing a check, ensuring that we are providing our partner organizations with the wrap-around, capacity-building support that leads to lasting and sustainable change. 

We wish to express our deepest gratitude for all that Iris has helped us to achieve. We thank Iris for the strong foundation for innovation and dynamic impact that she has helped to build, which will support our future growth for the next 150 years and beyond. We also extend our deep gratitude to our many supporters, friends, partners and advocates for your continued support of Bright Promises Foundation during this new chapter.

To learn more about how we are honoring Iris Krieg upon her retirement, please visit www.brightpromises.org/iris-krieg-fund