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 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 forty percent of our volunteers and covering a majority of our overhead costs. Because of this partnership, our team of professional staff and over 1,000 dedicated volunteers can continue to build brighter futures for youth and adults who need it most.

Since the inception of Tutoring in 1964, Chicago Lights has served more than 50,000 people. Today, we annually serve more than 4,000 individuals living in under-resourced neighborhoods through mentoring, supportive services, academic enrichment, career development, and arts education.

Our Impact
Students are paired one-to-one with caring volunteer mentors, who meet weekly for 1.5 hours to foster students’ academic and personal growth.
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.


Of our seniors graduated from high school, (The average graduation rate at Chicago Public Schools hovers at 76%.)
Summer Day
Students stay engaged each summer through six weeks of academic, arts, and enrichment programming.
Of our students improved or maintained their language arts skills.
Of our students improved or maintained their math skills.
Urban Farm
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.
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.


Pounds of produce were grown and distributed to the community.

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


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

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

Stacy Jackson

Executive Director


Alex Cornwell

Executive Programs Director


Laura Woods

Associate Director of Development


Kris Adamik

Communications Manager


Joi Brooks

Foundation Relations Officer


Devon Stewart

Development Coordinator


Patty Mendez

Director, Dance Academy


Annie Snow

Program Manager, Dance Academy


Theresa Thornburg

Director, Social Service Center


RaShonn Roberts

Stable Housing Case Manager, Social Service Center


Jill Keiser

Community Partner Manager, Social Service Center


Patty Sokolow

Associate Director, Social Service Center


Sarah Berlyn

Street Outreach Coordinator, Social Service Center


Armedia Houston

Director, Tutoring and Summer Day


Mark Dennison

Program Coordinator, Tutoring and
Summer Day


Jonita Johnson

Youth Programs Coordinator,
Tutoring and Summer Day


Deja Stout

Associate Director, Urban Farm


Malcolm Patterson

Head Grower and Workforce
Programs Educator, Urban Farm


Our Board of Directors

Nicholas VanDerSchie

Morningstar Investment Management, LLC

Amanda Felt

Vice President
University of Chicago Booth School of Business / The Center for Advanced Emotional Intelligence

Georgia Tsagalis

JPMorgan Chase Bank

Cindy Hull

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Kathryn Bates

Bates Development Services

Cassandra L. Book

Michigan State University (Retired)

Justin Epps

Shannon Kershner

Fourth Presbyterian Church

David Kimbell

Ulta Beauty

Naresh Koka
Valorem Reply

Marcus Mason-Vivit

RE/MAX Cornerstone

John Marr
The Higher Learning Commission
Andrew McGaan
Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Glenn Richter 

TIAA (Retired)

Peter Shannon

Eagle Seven Trading

Martina Smith 

Beth Truett

Aging with Grace, Inc.

Joseph E Tyler III

Bank of America N.A.

Gretchen Van Natta

Roosevelt University (Retired)