As Chicago Public Schools made the decision to hold remote classes this school year,  I Grow Chicago is once again rising to the occasion to support families and children. We are prepared to fill the gap for 40 students, following them throughout the school year to supplement the CPS remote learning program.


We will follow a hybrid learning method, bringing together both remote and in-person support for our students this fall. 

Our program will consist of four key components: 

  • Learning support and tutoring: Students will come in small groups twice a week, divided by age groups and grades, to work on strengthening skills and addressing issues that arise in the online classroom. Outside of these small groups, our advocates will virtually check in with the kids individually to check in on work and answer any questions they may have. This support will be flexible, as the kids struggle in different subjects and have classes at different times. 
  • Basic needs and supplies sponsorship: As a part of holistic healing, we understand that our children need support in their homes in order to be able to truly thrive in school. To support our kids, we support their home with any needs that are shared with us, including laptops and headphones, school supplies, internet access in the home, books, clothes, food, PPE, and hygiene and cleaning supplies. 
  • Wraparound Advocacy: Our Born to Thrive program manager will serve as a liaison between children and their teachers, families, and social workers to ensure that kids receive customized care. The manager will work with specific advocates for each age group that will communicate regularly with families and the schools. Working together, our program will be able to provide full support for our kids and their homes in relationship building with the schools.  
  • After-school support: An important aspect of learning that virtual learning makes difficult is social-emotional skill building. Our kids miss their friends, being in different after school activities, and learning outside the classroom. Our after-school program will continue, allowing a space for kids to play and learn away from their computers and in person with their peers in small groups. Some of these activities will include regular dance yoga, visual art, cooking, and drumming. 

As part of our program, each student will receive:

  • A core advocate who provides them with both virtual and in-person academic support 
  • An after-school group they will meet with twice a week for extra social-emotional support and peer-to-peer activities
  • A laptop, headphone set, and any necessary school supplies 
  • Access to internet and advocates at home and on the Peace Campus to complete assignments
  • Weekly check-ins with families and school personnel to track student progress and needs
  • 8 meals and snacks per week
  • Basic needs sponsorships, including PPE and care packages for home
  • Transportation support to and from program as needed 



Coming off a successful, safe summer camp we have learned a great deal about handling the needs of children and safety protocols during this pandemic. 

  • Small groups will be meeting in separate spaces across our 3 renovated homes on our Peace Campus, ensuring safety and social distancing protocols are followed.
  • Each small group will be capped at 7 students, and groups will be assigned according to current interactions/location (to limit potential exposure as much as possible). 
  • PPE will be provided for all staff and students. 
  • We will regularly sanitize the areas the children will work in as well as high-touch areas within our different homes on the Peace Campus. 
  • We will provide testing weekly for our staff and our students on the Peace Campus or made accessible to everyone involved. All are required to be tested before starting the program. 


This program is our chance to see our kids continue to love, care, learn, and thrive. Everything that we’ve learned from our block and our kids since I Grow Chicago has started six years ago has taught us that they are born to thrive. With the opportunity to express themselves creatively and be met with open arms and encouragement, our kids’ growth has impressed us all. Now we must ensure that growth continues even during this global crisis. The program will include:

  • In-Person Student Support: 3 hour sessions twice a week to support completion of class assignments, technology troubleshooting, and computer literacy 
  • Daily virtual check-ins: Advocates will connect with each student at the beginning and end of school day to make sure each student is up and ready to log into classes, setting-up/checking-in on goals for the day, asking if they need anything, confirming when/how they’re getting to Peace Campus for in-person session, and understanding their assignments 
  • After School curriculum: includes Black history, weekly yoga or mindfulness activity, weekly artistic expression, and special workshops from partners and professionals across the city

Meet our Born to Thrive manager

Laura Phillips started her journey with I Grow Chicago in early June, joining our team to help design and organize our Summer of Hope program. During her time with us, Laura has dedicated her time to developing creative and engaging curriculum for our kids, generating a thorough safety protocol to sustain our in-person summer programming, and building deep and meaningful relationships with our community members and partners. In her previous role as a College Access Coach in Portland, OR, Laura helped students understand and approach the college process, supported their academic needs, and communicated needs with families and school personnel. Laura’s work with students across the country has focused on providing holistic, individualized support both inside and outside of the classroom. As we enter this new phase of hybrid learning with our kids, Laura is excited to lead our team in reimagining how we can nourish the academic, familial and social-emotional needs of our precious young ones. Laura believes that to be Born to Thrive means to be worthy of every opportunity to become the person you dream yourself to be.