Community Shone Bright at the 2023 Awards
Record-breaking amount raised to support programs addressing underrecognized needs of Chicagoland children and youth
Earlier this month, friends and supporters of Bright Promises Foundation came together to celebrate, honor, and recognize this year’s award recipients and our 2023-2024 community partners, and to raise critical funds to support Bright Promises child-serving initiative at the 2023 Awards.
Bright Promises was honored to recognize:
- Jessica Yavitz, Vice President Community Relations of the Chicago Fire FC and Executive Director of the Chicago Fire Foundation - Champion for Children Award, which recognizes a civic or community leader who has shown exceptional dedication to helping children and youth in Metropolitan Chicago;
- Denzel Burke and Destine Phillips, Founders and Directors, R.E.A.L. Youth Initiative - Elevating Youth Voices Award, which recognizes early career professionals dedicated to empowering and amplifying the voices of Chicago youth leaders; and
- Maria Woltjen, Founder, Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights - Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes the outstanding contributions in a child-welfare professional who has shown lifelong dedication to serving children and youth.
We were also thrilled to announce grants to 23 leading community organizations, including new grantees A Long Walk Home, Build Inc., Project Vision, and Storycathcers Theater, who Bright Promises will partner with over the next year to address the urgent, underrecognized needs of Chicagoland children and youth.
At the 2023 Awards, our generous community came together to raise over $127,000 to support Bright Promises and our community partners. Your donations are being put to work, helping to reverse the impact of childhood trauma caused by racism, provide access to free social emotional learning and mental health resources for parents, caregivers, and service providers, ensure access to high-quality early childhood education for low-income children ages 0-5, and more.
Best of all, 100% of the funds raised are going directly to programs benefiting more than 11,000 children and youth.
Recognizing Gaylord Gieseke
At the 2023 Awards, special recognition was given to Gaylord Gieseke, who has served on Bright Promises Board for 12 years and has led with distinction as the Board Chair since 2017. Gaylord will be transitioning off of the board at the end of this year, though her impact will continue to be felt for many, many years to come.
Gaylord has a long and distinguished history of service and leadership in the non-profit arena and has left her mark on many organizations, including and especially Bright Promises Foundation. Words hardly seem sufficient to express our gratitude to you, but it will have to do until we find a better way to recognize those people in our lives who leave us changed for the better.
Thank you, Gaylord!
Make a gift in honor of Gaylord Gieseke
Powerful Reflections from our Community Partners
Guests at the 2023 Awards had special the opportunity to hear directly from a special group of our community partners. Bright Promises invited three program leaders who were once youth participants in the programs that they now lead to share their experiences.
In a conversation moderated by Bright Promises Lifetime Trustee Shari Runner, grantee partners Chase Larkin (UCAN), Nadiah Alyafai (Arab American Action Network), and Juvilee Hernandez (Northwest Center) spoke about their journey from lost teens, to engaged youth, to thriving leaders in their organizations and communities.
Chase, Nadiah, and Juvilee reflected on how their experiences as youth in programs supported by Bright Promises unlocked their potential, and how they are now leveraging Bright Promises support to provide transformative opportunities to the next generation of youth leaders.
We offer our special thanks to Shari, Chase, Nadiah, and Juvilee for sharing their experiences, wisdom, and expertise.
“The biggest lesson I have taken with me is the importance of creating a safe space, a third space, within communities. This is one of the most important things to allowing a community to thrive. That is how we build bridges within a community and across communities. And investing in third spaces is really important. A lot of youth just need a push. I just needed that push to be invested in that third space. It had a huge impact on me and now the youth in my program.” - Nadiah Alyafai
Expressing Our Thanks
Relationships are at the center of everything we do at Bright Promises.
We believe in collective work, collective wisdom, and collective impact. And we know our vision of a Chicagoland where every young person reaches their full potential cannot be achieved alone.
Bright Promises' success is only possible with the steadfast support of our community. We want to offer special thanks to our 2023 Awards co-chairs Queta Rodriguez Bauer and Keith Sanders, and the 2023 Awards host committee.
We also want to offer special thanks to the Bright Promises Board of Directors, staff, and the many volunteers who made the 2023 Awards a success. We are especially thankful to our youth volunteers from Increase the Peace and volunteer photographer Yvette Dotsatni.
We also want to thank Presenting Sponsors Azteca Foods Inc. and Discover, along with Allstate, Gaylord and Bill Gieseke, KPMG, the Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, Clive and Wanji Walcott, West Monroe, Wintrust, and many other generous sponsors. Thanks also to the Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Fire Footbal Club, and our generous matching gift sponsors for their generous support of our bid-for-cause. View a full list of the 2023 Awards sponsors here.
We want to thank our generous donors whose support fuels our mission. Finally, we want to thank all of our grantee partners. You are our reason for being, and it is an honor and privilege to be in partnership with you.