Current Grantees and Projects

Download Grants List (pdf)

Chicago Community Coaches

Chicago Community Coaches is a collaboration between The Englewood Women’s Initiative (EWI) is a partnership of 12 organizations who have joined forces to form a place-based community-centered and holistic approach to women’s economic security.  CFW supports EWI in creation of a model for resource sharing and referrals, including provision of a Partnership Liaison and a shared technology platform as well as investment in external research and evaluation.

Strategy Areas
Advancing Institutional Equity
Building Student Supports

Chicago Foundation For Women

The Englewood Women’s Initiative (EWI) is a partnership of 12 organizations who have joined forces to form a place-based community-centered and holistic approach to women’s economic security.  CFW supports EWI in creation of a model for resource sharing and referrals, including provision of a Partnership Liaison and a shared technology platform as well as investment in external research and evaluation.

Strategy Areas
Cross-Sector Collaboration

City Colleges of Chicago

Bridges funding supports the development of a continuous improvement model to support implementation and testing of equity strategies at each of the seven colleges.  In addition to micro-grants to individual colleges, the Championing Equity grant provides funding for new staff and processes to support engagement and use of data to guide systems change efforts.

Strategy Area
Advancing Institutional Equity
Building Student Supports

Enlace Chicago

Little Village Equity Response Teams will be created at Northeastern Illinois University, National Louis University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Malcolm X College, Richard J. Daley College, and Harold Washington College. Each team consists of parent leaders from the community, post-secondary institution staff and College Ambassadors (paid college alumni from the college they represent). Teams will work to understand the specific challenges faced by students at each institution to develop tailored outreach and engagement plans and advocate for institutional changes that will lead to greater student success.

Strategy Area
Advancing Institutional Equity

Hire 360

Hire 360 is a new organization designed to connect employers, unions, and workers. Bridges is supporting a pilot of services designed for alumni who have completed pre-apprenticeship construction training programs to ensure placement and retention in construction apprenticeships.

Strategy Area
Building Student Supports

Inner-City Computer Stars Foundation

i.c.stars has a history of success in career placement for IT jobs. Participants in its independent training program gain industry connections through training and internships. They also receive a stipend,a laptop and continued alumni support after job placement.

Strategy Area
Building Student Supports
Encouraging Cross-Sector Collaboration

LIFT Chicago

LIFT has a national model of serving students who are parents. Students in Masters in Social Work programs provide coaching that strengthens relationships and understanding of trauma response as well as financial coaching. Stipends to participants for participation are increased as participants achieve education milestones.

Strategy Area
Building Student Supports
Encouraging Cross-Sector Collaboration

Mivka Challenge

In order to increase student voice as part of the City Colleges of Chicago Championing Equity program, Mivka Challenge provides training for CCC leaders and staff in best practices for student engagement in policy reform. They also co-facilitate student focus groups, which lead to student run workshops where students collaboratively analyze issues and design solutions alongside staff.

Strategy Area
Advancing Institutional Equity

Noble Network

Noble Network is a charter school network with 17 high schools and one middle school in Chicago. Previous alumni support efforts have focused on students attending 4-year institutions, but now Noble is creating a new program to support Noble alumni in City Colleges of Chicago programs. A system-wide manager trains career counselors at each school, combined with “Near Peer” support from Noble alumni currently attending or graduates of CCC.

Strategy Area
Building Student Supports

National Able Network

National Able Network provides tuition-free training for students fromWest and South sides of Chicago. The training includes support with navigating work/life balance conflicts as well as career support after job placement into living wage jobs. Trainees receive industry-recognized certifications and a laptop upon completion.

Strategy Area
Building Student Supports

OAI

OAI Inc supports students in nursing and dementia care certification programs. Their innovative model pays for one-month of child care while supporting student parents in applying for child care assistance in order to pursue education.  Students are supported on pathways to living wage jobs beyond the Certified Nursing Assistant role.

Strategy Area
Building Student Supports

One Million Degrees

One Million Degrees provides comprehensive supports to low-income, highly motivated community college students to help them succeed in school, in work, and in life. Bridges to Brighter Futures provides general operating support to this model due to the significant alignment of their work with all areas of Bridges strategy.

Strategy Area
Building Student Supports

The Partnership for College Completion

The Partnership for College Completion’s signature initiative, the Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative (ILEA) currently works with 28 Illinois colleges and universities to catalyze change at the institutional level in order to address equity gaps in degree attainment. In joining ILEA, each institution has pledged to eliminate its institutional degree completion gaps, dedicate a senior team to guide this work, share disaggregated data to measure success and drive action, and develop a campus-specific equity plan with interim benchmarks in service of this goal.

Per Scholas

Per Scholas provides tuition-free technical and career training combined with financial and social work support to IT students. Trainees receive a laptop and continued professional support for two years after job placement into living wage jobs.

Strategy Area
Building Student Supports

Revolution Workshop

Revolution Workshop is creating an alumni services program to improve outcomes for participants in pre-apprenticeship construction job training programs. The new alumni program includes support for retention in valuable construction apprenticeships that lead to household-supporting wages.

Strategy Areas
Building Student Supports

Skills for Chicagoland’s Future

Skills’ two-phased program works with multiple cohorts of students to provide career navigation support and coaching as students move into career pathways programs. In Phase I, summer 2020, program participants created a Career Roadmap with resources and next steps personalized to their career and education path. Students received stipends for program completion. In Phase II, students move into programs with connections to high demand jobs and industry placement.

Strategy Areas
Building Student Supports
Encouraging Cross-Sector Collaboration

Utmost U

Utmost U is extending its model of serving college students to support City Colleges of Chicago students, including phone-based coaching and paid peer coaches. Phone and unlimited data is provided for free to students through partnership with T-Mobile.

Strategy Areas
Building Student Supports
Encouraging Cross-Sector Collaboration

Young Invincibles

In partnership with NAMI Chicago, Young Invincibles is supporting creation of a Mental Health Early Action on Campus Act Learning Collaborative.  Higher education institutions from across the state will collaboratively develop a technical assistance project to support college implementation of recent legislation designed to improve student mental health services on campuses in Illinois.

Strategy Areas
Cross-Sector Collaboration

Youth Job Center

Working in partnership with Southwest Organizing Project, Youth Job Center will recruit recent high school graduates from the community to participate in paid work readiness training and receive career advising. The collaboration will work to place youth into career pathways training programs, internships and work-based learning opportunities provided by the City Colleges of Chicago.

Strategy Areas
Building Student Supports

Ongoing Research

Analyzing Middle Skills Pathways in Chicago

Northern Illinois University Ed Systems will analyze and document how education program progressions are structured along career pathways.  Labor market data will also be analyzed to understand priority occupations and necessary credentials for specific jobs.

The following five sectors were developed in phase one: IT, Health Sciences, Manufacturing, Education/Childcare and Supply Chain. Phase two sectors are Finance and Business Services; Architecture, Construction, and Energy; Arts and Communications; Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources; Culinary Arts; and Human and Public Services.

Results from phase one work are shared here: https://edsystemsniu.org/middle-skills-pathways-in-chicago-resources/

Strategy Areas
Encouraging Cross-Sector Collaboration

Leveraging Data to Design Evidence-Based Student Supports

Urban Labs at the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab (IE Lab plans to provide a more nuanced picture of how students engage with the City Colleges of Chicago in order to develop targeted student support offerings that meet students’ unique needs.

IE Lab is also researching developmental education policy reform, studying the potential impact of using new metrics (High School GPA) to place students in courses, and studying the effectiveness of a new program, “Summer Start,” on placement into higher-level courses.  Additionally, Bridges supports IE Lab in research evaluating the CCC Championing Equity program.

Strategy Areas
Advancing Institutional Equity
Encouraging Cross-Sector Collaboration

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.

Bridges used the RFP to clarify pieces of our funding strategy by exploring a few key questions:

  • What do students need to move from obtaining basic certificates into completion of middle skills certificates or applied degrees?
  • How are programs supporting students through their work experiences and career networking toward job placement and advancement?
  • What certifications and career supports provide entry into living wage jobs?

The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce describes middle skills as more than a high school diploma, but less than a bachelor’s degree.  Bridges learned from 2020 grant recipients that wages upon job placement are a strong indicator of the true value of a certification. We also learned that there is a wide range of wage possibilities within the middle skills universe, and as such have begun to describe some jobs requiring more than a high school diploma as “early skills” and others as middle skills. With the support of data partners such as Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University (EdSystems), Bridges set $24/hour as the target wage for job placement and as a clear marker for where we are currently defining as the beginning of the middle skills jobs universe. EdSystems also assisted us in identifying priority occupations that met the wage target set in the RFP.

This RFP was an opportunity to help organizations and students navigate the next steps along a career pathway while intentionally working to address and remove systemic barriers for Black, Latinx and low-income students. We also wanted to help programs focused on job placement move their alumni into higher earning roles, from early skills to middle skills jobs. With guidance from the team at CareerPathways.net and the Chicagoland Workforce Funders Alliance, Bridges identified ten organizations to invite. We identified nonprofits offering direct training on middle skills credentials and those supporting students to complete middle skills credentials at City College or other providers. After reviewing applications and conducting site visits with each organization, five were chosen for investment by Bridges. Through this RFP and future funding opportunities, Bridges hopes to highlight the impact of barrier reduction funds, living wage job placements, and continuing career education supports in building stronger career pathways in Chicago.

Bridges to Brighter Futures 2021 Middle Skills RFP Grant Recipients

  • National Able Network
  • Per Scholas Inc.
  • Revolution Workshop
  • Hire 360
  • OAI Inc.