As a member of StriveTogether’s national network, Thrive Chicago creates collaborative networks of people and data that accelerate program innovation and improve outcomes for youth. By aligning partners around a shared vision, using data to make decisions and coordinating resources, Thrive Chicago is changing systems in the city. Now, this work is being recognized with a national designation from StriveTogether. Thrive has become one of 15 Cradle to Career Network members to earn the proof point designation, an important milestone along the StriveTogether Theory of ActionTM.
Here are a few examples of how Thrive Chicago has partnered across the city to change systems:
Supporting youth to connect to opportunities
Thrive uses collective impact to unite partners around supporting youth aged 16-24 who are disconnected from work and school, called opportunity youth.
- Thrive convenes the Opportunity Youth Working Group, which used data to shift the City of Chicago’s understanding of opportunity youth. While the public narrative often associates opportunity youth with violence and men of color with low levels of education, data showed that the majority of Chicago’s opportunity youth have their high school diplomas, and 48% are female.
- This data analysis helped city leaders and practitioners develop recommendations for action, created with input from opportunity youth. The recommendations spurred citywide change, including reallocation of funding, shifts in programming (e.g. programming for high school graduates and women) and a change in how providers and policy makers talk about opportunity youth.
- One recommendations launched neighborhood-based Reconnection Hubs, physical spaces designed to help young people navigate the resources they need to reconnect to the education and workforce systems. These Reconnection Hubs, led by Thrive’s direct service partners, have connected 300 opportunity youth to work or school. The City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services initially invested $500,000 to launch the Hubs, which are supported by both public and private funding.
Setting high school graduates up for success
Thrive coordinates efforts to make sure that high school graduates who plan to start college have the support they need to get there.
- Every year, 5,000 high school graduates who intended to go to college do not actually enroll in college in the fall. This is called summer melt. In partnership with Chicago Public Schools and postsecondary support organizations, Thrive Chicago raised funding for and helped support a Summer Transition Coordinator strategy in 55 high schools that had the highest rates of summer melt. Coordinators helped college-bound students navigate hurdles that had the potential to prevent them from making it to their postsecondary institutions.
- After implementing the Summer Transition Coordinator strategy, 1,000 more students successfully started college. The strategy is now integrated into Chicago Public Schools’ broader postsecondary enrollment plan, with funding designated to support it.
In its work to support young people to succeed in school and beyond, Thrive Chicago has put youth at the center, working across the city to change systems. Congratulations to Thrive Chicago for reaching the proof point designation!