Chicago Beyond was launched in 2016 to back the fight for youth equity with funding from philanthropists Kimbra and Mark Walter. Yet our story began a few years earlier at a school on Chicago’s South Side.
Prior to launching Chicago Beyond, Liz Dozier, our Founder & CEO, was the principal of Fenger High School in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood. At the time, Fenger had been cast as one of the most violent and underperforming schools in the city of Chicago, and Liz and her team were charged with turning the school around. The team at Fenger was intensely aware of how traumatic events outside of the classroom were affecting her students, so they took a holistic approach to the work, which included the adoption of restorative justice and mental health and wellness strategies.
Under Liz’s leadership, Fenger experienced a decrease in its dropout rate from 19% to 2%, a 40% increase in Freshman On-Track to graduate, and double-digit increases in attendance and the school’s state graduation rate. With the aid of a federal grant, Fenger soon became a district leader in restorative justice, social and emotional learning and academic interventions.
Chicago Beyond was created to continue this fight against the inequities pervasive in Chicago’s communities. Today, we’ve invested more than $30 million in community-led initiatives and individuals who are fighting for all youth to achieve their fullest human potential, in Chicago and beyond.