A Multi-Year Education Initiative

Bridges to Brighter Futures aims to create equitable, affordable access to good jobs and continued career development for low-income and Black/Latinx 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 will allow access to higher earnings along the way. Some Bridges students may be in pursuit of a workforce certification that leads to a high earnings career in IT or Healthcare. Other Bridges students may be working toward completion of a Bachelor’s degree, but choose a more affordable option for their first few years.

Bridges to Brighter Futures has identified three areas of strategy to focus and guide its grantmaking.

Advancing Institutional Equity

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

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 requires the partnership of employers as well as community non-profits, researchers and institutions. Supporting innovative collaborations and evidence based models can create new solutions for the field.

Bridges to Brighter Futures also responds to unprecedented, immediate needs.


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. This fund addresses the medium- and long-term challenges in education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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 vision 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, our region’s community foundation, partners with donors to leverage their philanthropy in ways that transform lives and communities. The Trust connects the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to nonprofit organizations working to improve metropolitan Chicago. Since our founding in 1915, the Trust has awarded approximately $2 billion in grant funding to more than 11,000 local nonprofit organizations – including more than $236 million in 2016.

Lara Pruitt
Director of Education Initiatives

Joanna Trotter
Senior Director of Community Impact