True Impact: Inside Chicago Lights  |  Virtual Chats

Our mission is to Partner with Youth and Adults to build brighter futures through supportive relationships and life-changing programs.

We do this by providing creative youth development and adult social services that help people build the skills they need to transcend systemic barriers and lead fulfilling lives.

Chicago Lights believes every person should have access to the resources they need to overcome economic and social barriers and achieve their ambitions.

Our History

Chicago Lights is the nonprofit at Fourth Presbyterian Church. Our programs grew from the church’s commitment to social justice and compassionate service, beginning with the founding of the Tutoring program in 1964.

The Presbyterian denomination maintains a legacy of establishing colleges and universities and standing with people often disinherited by society.

In 1964, Fourth Presbyterian Church partnered with residents in the former Cabrini-Green neighborhood to provide tutoring to students. The commitment to education and literacy expanded and in 1991 gave rise to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which in 2004 was renamed Chicago Lights.

Fourth Presbyterian Church continues to be a vital source of funding and support for Chicago Lights, including providing 40% of our volunteers and covering a majority of our overhead costs. 

Since the inception of Tutoring in 1964, Chicago Lights has partnered with more than 60,000 people. Today, we annually connect with more than 4,000 individuals through mentoring, supportive services, academic enrichment, career development, and arts education.

Our Impact
Tutoring
440
Students are paired one-to-one with caring volunteer mentors, who meet weekly for 1.5 hours to foster students’ academic and personal growth.
100%
Of our high school students enrolled in our Career Development program successfully completed their summer internships and engaged in important on-the-job learning and resume-building skills.

100%

Of our seniors graduated from high school, (The average graduation rate at Chicago Public Schools hovers at 76%.)
Summer Day
125
Students stay engaged each summer through six weeks of academic, arts, and enrichment programming.
94%
Of our students improved or maintained their language arts skills.
96%
Of our students improved or maintained their math skills.
Urban Farm
300
People engage annually with our Urban Farm through educational and economic opportunities, hands-on learning experiences, and access to fresh, local, and sustainably grown produce.
25
Unique high school students and three young adults with barriers to employment participate in our workforce development program, where they not only learn about urban farming but also resume writing, interviewing techniques, customer service skills, and more.

4,500

Pounds of produce were grown and distributed to the community.

Dance Academy
1,500
More than 1,500 students receive dance instruction at our 5 partner schools to support their academic and personal growth.
30
Students were enrolled in the four-week Summer Dance Intensive, which enhances technique and increases self-esteem and strength.
Social Services

1,300

More than 1,300 adults partner with the Social Service Center each year.

184
People living on the streets received supplies and resources through our Street Outreach program.
67
Unique individuals were assigned to a permanent case manager.

Our Staff

Chicago Lights Team

Our talented team is a compassionate and experienced group of individuals who work hard toward our mission each day.

Check out our team members and bios here.

Our Board of Directors

Nicholas VanDerSchie

President
Global Head of Strategy and Execution,
Morningstar Investment Management, LLC

Amanda Felt

Vice President
Senior Associate Director, Executive Education,
University of Chicago Booth School of Business /
Executive Coach and Consultant, 
The Center for Advanced Emotional Intelligence 

Georgia Tsagalis

Secretary
Vice President,
JPMorgan Chase Bank

Cindy Hull

Treasurer
Assistant Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Kathryn Bates

President,
Bates Development Services

Cassandra L. Book

Professor and Associate Dean Emeritus – Retired,
Michigan State University

Justin Epps

Vice President, 
Watermark Lodging Trust 

Shannon Kershner

Pastor,
Fourth Presbyterian Church

David Kimbell

Chief Executive Officer,
Ulta Beauty

Naresh Koka

Alliance Lead – US,
Valorem Reply

Marcus Mason

Realtor,
RE/MAX Cornerstone

John Marr

Vice President for Accreditation,
The Higher Learning Commission

Andrew McGaan

Partner,
Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Glenn Richter 

EVP and CFO – Retired 
TIAA 

Peter Shannon

Team Lead – Trader,
Eagle Seven Trading

Martina Smith 

Account Director,
Burrell Communications 

Beth Truett

President,
Aging with Grace, Inc.

Joseph E Tyler III

Senior Vice President / Senior Relationship Manager,
Bank of America N.A.

Gretchen Van Natta

Vice President of Human Resources – Retired,
Roosevelt University