Chicago Tribune Charities

Chicago Tribune Charities Grantee Features
Adult Literacy: Literacy Volunteers of Fox Valley

When Dagmar came to the United States from Slovakia to find work, learning to speak English was one of her first priorities. She surpassed the goals set for her by her tutor at Literacy Volunteers of Fox Valley and gained seven language levels in just three years. “I can read, write and speak English now. I especially enjoy reading thrillers,” she says. Funding throughChicago Tribune Charities allows the program to train and support more volunteer tutors in order to to equip and empower adult learners with language skills.




Adult Literacy: The Literacy Connection

The Literacy Connection provides one-on-one tutorial support for adult learners who need to improve literacy skills to gain employment, help their children with school and participate more fully in their communities. With help from funding provided through Chicago Tribune Charities, The Literacy Connection supported 235 adult learners—36 basic literacy learners and 199 English as a Second Language (ESL) learners—this past fiscal year. This program is invaluable to women like Dolores who came to the U.S. from Mexico with her husband and four children. With help from her tutor, Dolores has dramatically improved her oral and written English skills, and plans to obtain a formal education when her children are grown.




Workforce Development: Inspiration Corporation

At 47 years old, Robert had been selling drugs to support his heroin habit for most of his life and had been incarcerated six times for drug-related offenses, when he was convicted on drug conspiracy charges and given a seven-year sentence in 2007. Robert recalls, “[Y]ou never had peace of mind. You couldn’t allow your body to get some rest, so you just kept going until it shut down. I knew going back to my old community, there would be a very slim chance of being successful.” He began training with Inspiration Corporation and, after a lot of hard work, found two full-time jobs in maintenance positions at The Field Museum and Millennium Park. Now that his life is more stable, Robert is looking at going back to school. He recently worked with his career specialist to fill out his federal student loan application.  He says his main goal, though, is not to go back to prison. “I need to keep myself busy until I can reach a certain growth level; be a productive citizen … and be responsible. I spent many years chasing an illusion: chasing drugs, getting rich, driving fancy cars, having things, but what I really wanted was a sense of respect and power. I think I’m more respected now.”




Workforce Development: Youth Job Center of Evanston, Inc.

After being convicted of a felony, Christopher found it difficult to find work. “Then the most amazing thing happened,” he said. “I turned my thinking around and reached out for help.” The training program helped Christopher develop employment skills. He learned how to write a résumé, fill out a job application appropriately and how to conduct himself in an interview. He even learned how to speak about his felony appropriately. An opportunity at Curt’s Café in Evanston became available and Christopher earned himself an interview that led to a job! After working at Curt’s Café for only two months, Christopher secured a full-time job at Starbucks. This was a goal of his from the minute he began Job Readiness Training. He currently works 40+ hours a week and is now receiving benefits. Christopher has called the Youth Job Center more than once to express thanks for the help and support. “I am so grateful and couldn’t have done it without you.”




Child and Youth Education: Glen Ellyn Children’s Resource Center

Sisters Lee Meh and Taw Meh come from the Karenni (or Kayah) people group in Burma, which has traditionally lived in very rural areas. Their language, Karenni, didn't have a script until the 1960s, and as a result there is hardly a culture of literacy. Their parents are illiterate even in their own language. When they arrived, Taw Meh was placed in 3rd grade and Lee Meh in 2nd grade. With their mom, they attended a family literacy program offered last summer in conjunction with the public library. Since they have arrived, they have also been attending the after-school program every day, as well as the summer literacy programs. They’re now reading entire books in English and have advanced several grade levels. The entire family has developed a love for reading and the girls are planning to go to college to become teachers.




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Robert R. McCormick Foundation
205 N. Michigan Ave.
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Chicago, IL 60601
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development@mccormickfoundation.org

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McCormick Foundation
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