Chicago Beyond invests in organizations, people, and ideas that advance equity for youth and communities.
We believe there is no single barrier to equity, thus our strategy takes a holistic approach and we invest in diverse ideas that reflect a broad range of issue areas. We recognize that the broader ecosystem and its historical foundations of structural racism, power, and privilege have dramatically impeded the lives and life outcomes of young people. Rather than asking “what does a young person need to do differently?” we seek to influence change in the ecosystem in order to help youth reach their fullest potential.
We focus on impacting systems and supporting early-stage and maturing organizations that have not gained substantial financial backing (in relation to the scope of idea) or have limited access to resources. Accordingly, we seek investments that drive change at two key levels:
- Direct Youth and Community – Organizations, people, and ideas that address the immediate and acute needs of youth and provide pathways to help youth reach their fullest potential
- Systems level – Organizations, people, and ideas that influence the overarching beliefs, ideologies, behaviors and practices that undergird, enable, or reinforce systemic inequity to help youth reach their fullest potential
Our process for investing is not about evaluating ideas or checking boxes. Instead, we seek to understand the potential of a partnership and what we can do together in service of youth knowing that we will both learn and deepen our impact from it.
When exploring a possible investment, the factors we value most are:
Rooted in youth and community experience, voice, and relationship
- How is an organization/person/idea influenced and shaped by youth and community voice, experience, and relationship? How is youth voice integrated in the work?
- What is the potential to amplify youth and community voice through the partnership?
Adaptable to changing conditions and new knowledge
How does an organization/person/idea demonstrate an openness to learning and propensity for adjusting to new environments, and/or new information and change?
What is the potential for mutual learning through the partnership?
Audacious vision for change that is backed by action
- How does an organization/person/idea push themselves and others to have greater impact? How do they challenge where they’ve been, or what they know in order to better impact youth?
- What is the potential to grow or deepen impact through the partnership?
Relevant to the opportunities, needs, culture and values of youth and communities
- How does an organization/person/idea recognize and understand the complexity of its issue area and community? How can that understanding be integrated into the work?
- What is the potential to develop a fuller picture of the opportunities and challenges youth face through the partnership?
Collaborative relationship with others or ideas that build on one another
- How does an organization/person/idea connect and drive collaborative action with others?
- What is the potential to cultivate a healthy, cooperative relationship through the partnership?
Capacity to engage in a high-touch relationship built on mutual trust
- How does an organization/person/idea demonstrate its ability to work closely together?
- What is the potential for Chicago Beyond to add value to the partnership?