A New Multi-Year Education Initiative

A New Multi-Year Education Initiative

Bridges to Brighter Futures aims to create equitable, affordable access to good jobs and continued career development. Recognizing historic barriers and system inequities, Bridges focuses its work on the needs of Black, Latinx, and low-income Chicagoans who have earned a high school diploma or GED.

Who are Bridges Students?

Bridges students are beginning to choose clear career pathways, while working toward shorter term certifications that allow access to higher earnings along the way. These might include workforce certifications leading to a high earnings career in fields such as IT or healthcare. They might also include more affordable options for the first few years towards a bachelor’s degree.

Click Here to Learn More About Bridges Grantees

Three Strategy Areas

Advancing Institutional Equity

Community colleges and workforce certification programs suffer from long-standing structural models that often do not take into account the needs of marginalized students. It is critical to examine the barriers that students face and create new solutions that change outcomes for low-income students and students of color.

Building Student Supports

Student success is bound by their ability to overcome hurdles in their pursuit of degrees and credentials. Research in the field has demonstrated that offering additional academic, personal, and financial support for students can be a critical driver of program completion with limited debt.

Encouraging Cross-Sector Collaboration

Moving students along educational pathways and into good jobs must include the educational institutions that serve them and requires the partnership of employers, community non-profits, and researchers. Supporting innovative collaborations and evidence-based models can create new solutions for the field.

Responding to COVID-19

Bridges to Brighter Futures supports the Chancellors’ Retention Fund at the City Colleges of Chicago. This fund provides vital tuition assistance directly to the students who need it most. Bridges also supports the Chicago Education Equity COVID-19 Response Fund, which addresses the medium- and long-term challenges in education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Middle Skills RFP

In spring 2021, Bridges released a closed request for proposals (RFP) to provide programmatic support to organizations that help students enter middle skills positions through obtaining certifications or providing career supports after initial placement.

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Proposals for Bridges to Brighter Futures funding are made by invitation only. However, the initiative has reserved funds to respond to new opportunities that align with or support its strategies. If you believe that your work aligns with the core strategies and outcomes of Bridges to Brighter Futures please contact program staff using the information below.


Funded through the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Bridges to Brighter Futures is a collaboration between Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust.

Kinship Foundation is a private operating foundation established to advance the institutional philanthropy of the Searle family. The Foundation has three areas of focus: biomedical research, environmental conservation and education. Its work includes developing and supporting Chicago-based grant making initiatives through the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust; administering the Searle Scholars Program, a national biomedical research grant program; and operating Kinship Conservation Fellows, a global environmental leadership program.

The Chicago Community Trust is a community foundation dedicated to strengthening the Chicago region and improving the lives of the people who call it home. For more than 100 years, the Trust has served as a trusted philanthropic partner, connecting the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to nonprofit organizations working to create lasting change. Following the creation of a new strategic plan in 2019, the Trust stands committed to addressing Chicago’s legacy of systemic inequity and closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap, while continuing to respond to the critical needs of our most vulnerable residents. The Trust administers more than $360 million in annual grant making as part of its commitment to equity, opportunity and prosperity for the Chicago region.

Lara Pruitt
Director of Education Initiatives

Joanna Trotter
Senior Director of Community Impact

(Images courtesy of One Million Degrees (from top, first, second, and fourth) and The Partnership for College Completion (fifth))