understanding our impact and sharing what we learn

Bright Promises foundation is committed to capturing and sharing knowledge so that our impact reaches beyond individual organizations and affects change on the systemic inequities that impact children, youth, and communities.

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Beyond the Check

OUR GRANTMAKING APPROACH focuses on going beyond traditional grantmaking, following trust-based practices to provide our community partners with flexible, multi-year funding and capacity-building support. Bright Promises woks to remove divisions between people and organizations, facilitating a learning community that allows the sharing of innovations and promising practices that can help more children and youth thrive.

Last Year, Bright Promises Served









Image courtesy Gads Hill Center

Our Theory of Change

Bright Promises' institutional theory of change functions as our “north star”. It outlines how Bright Promises works to create ripples of positive impact -- one investment, one organization, and one community at a time.

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Progress is a Dial, not a switch

Bright Promises Foundation has developed an innovative and proven-effective grantmaking model that fills urgent gaps in programs and services for children and youth. Using a trust-based and community-centric framework, Bright Promises service model includes collecting, analyzing, and synthesizing input from those with the greatest knowledge and expertise about children and youth's most urgent, unmet needs. Then Bright Promises co-creates impactful grantmaking initiatives that generate lasting, sustainable change.


Bright Promises focuses on early identification and response to the urgent, underrecognized needs of Chicagoland children and youth. In order to remain responsive to the changing needs of children and youth, Bright Promises continually assesses our strategy and shifts our focus to address the next most urgent, unmet need.


Bright Promises provides community partners with flexible, multi-year funding and capacity-building support, creating opportunities for partners to learn from each other and expand lessons learned into other areas of their organization and community.


Bright Promises evaluates our initiatives and disseminates knowledge with service providers and the broader public so that our investments affect change on the systemic inequities that impact children, youth, and communities.

Based On



Ages Served
Early Childhood, 0-5
Elementary, 5-11
Middle School, 11-14
High School, 11-14
Post High School, 18+




Demographics Served

Educational resources

We are committed to sharing our process and learning with you. Bright Promises is committed to serving both our donors and community partners by building relationships rooted in trust and mutual accountability. Capturing and sharing knowledge is built into our institutional framework so that Bright Promises’ impact reaches beyond individual organizations and affects change on the systemic inequities that impact children, youth, and communities.

Bright Communities

Fun, engaging, and free social emotional learning resources

The Bright Communities SEL Resource Hub offers fun, engaging, and free Social Emotional Learning (SEL) resources to support the mental health and development of important life skills in children and youth. Resources include activities, videos, articles, and games all designed to improve social-emotional skills from birth to adulthood.

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Evaluations Reports

Building capacity and sustainability are core drivers of Bright Promises’ mission; therefore evaluation is a critical part of our approach. Evaluation helps to identify what “success” means for different organizations serving diverse populations and allows for the identification of promising practices that can be shared widely to organizations serving children and youth.

2008-2022 Longitudinal Impact Report

In partnership with Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation (PIE) Org, Bright Promises launched a longitudinal study in 2022 to assess the impact of Bright Promises grantmaking from 2008-2022. Findings confirmed that programmatic and systemic impact has grown out of Bright Promises' uniquely impactful service model focused on identifying and addressing the urgent, underrecognized needs of Chicago-area children and youth.

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2022-2023 Report on Addressing Racial Trauma

In 2022-23, community partners involved in the Healing, Leading, Changing initiative improved and expanded and improved youth programming addressing racism-based trauma. Read our most recent evaluation report to discover the latest and most promising practices for promoting healing and resilience among BIPOC children and youth.

2022 Annual Report

In 2022, Bright Promises leveraged our unique partnership model with our grantee partners to support direct service to thousands of Chicagoland children and youth facing critical challenges, and to collect, analyze, and share the life-changing learnings and practices we observe to benefit tens of thousands more.  Explore our annual report to learn how Bright Promises is building a Chicagoland where all children and youth reach their full promise and potential.

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Grantee Spotlight

UCAN is a Chicago-based organization that strives to build strong youth and families through compassionate healing, education, and empowerment. At its core, UCAN truly believes that healing is possible and that providing care with compassion is a priority.