Program Spotlight: LIFT-Chicago

By Sarah Spunt on October 3, 2016

Categories: Our Work

Over the summer, we shared a little bit about LIFT’s program design process, and highlighted some things we learned from parents during our listening tour. Over the next few months we’ll be diving in a little deeper to the work we’re doing on the ground – in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. – to help empower families to break the cycle of poverty. First up, Chicago.

This summer we relaunched our Chicago operations on the South Side in partnership with Educare. We hosted a summer parent peer group to get to know the parents in our new community, the dreams they have for their families and how LIFT can help make those dreams become a reality. We brought parents together to help build a community of support and worked one-on-one with them to set and track progress towards their goals. Through our peer group sessions we shared information and resources to help parents work toward accomplishing their employment, education and financial goals.

“It’s been an awesome experience, I have really enjoyed the resources that you all have given us… you guys catered to our needs so I felt like I learned a lot,” said Humu, a mother we worked with this summer. In addition to participating in the group, Humu – who just finished her associate’s degree and is working towards her bachelor’s degree in social work – worked one-on-one with a LIFT advocate to help her apply for scholarships for school. Working with LIFT helped to provide her with “more direction towards [her] major and the steps [she] needs to take to reach [her] goals.” Humu learned about a number of resources like budgeting apps and Bank of America’s Better Money Habits to help her begin saving for school and repair her credit score.

Working with parents like Humu, we learned more about the type of support that parents and caregivers on Chicago’s South Side want, the goals they want to accomplish and how LIFT can partner with them to bring their aspirations to fruition. Their feedback and insight has been critical in informing the design of our next phase of programming.

This fall, we are launching a coaching program to help parents accomplish their career and financial goals. As they work with their coaches to set SMART goals, develop a plan to accomplish them and monitor their progress, parents will also have access to peer groups and workshops that will help build their knowledge in relevant areas and connect them with other parents working toward similar goals. Additionally, parents will have access to direct financial assistance from LIFT to help remove some of the financial barriers they may face in reaching their goals.

“I want [parents] to know that we need this program because it can change and save so many lives,” Humu said. “It can help your life so you can help someone else’s life. In areas like this without resources, parents are so far behind. This program can show them the way.”


About the Author

Sarah Spunt

Sarah Spunt is a licensed clinical social worker and the Executive Director at LIFT-Chicago, a national nonprofit that empowers families to break the cycle of poverty. At LIFT, she is responsible for cultivating new key partnerships; building and sustaining relationships with new and existing donors and supporters; and leading the development of LIFT-Chicago’s strategic plan Read More