COVID-19: The Response from our Community of Grantees

Please join with us in supporting our community during the challenges of COVID-19. Each week, The CAFE will highlight the needs of our different Partners with hopes that you will support their amazing work now and in the future.  And while financial support is most critical right now, our partners would welcome your help in many different ways…your expertise, your time, and your encouragement. Let’s all do WHAT WE CAN to show our support in the ways that are most manageable for each of us. Without you, this important work is not possible.



OneGoal-Chicago is an innovative organization that works to close the college degree divide and create a more equitable future. OneGoal starts as a credit bearing class in students’ junior year of high school and continues during the critical transitional period through their first year of college or other post-secondary path. The organization partners with schools in low-income communities, equipping teachers with the training, tools, technology and partnerships ensure their Fellows (students) realize their postsecondary dreams.  Today in Chicago,  OneGoal is serving close to 6,000  students in over 60% of open enrollment Chicago high schools .

Needs as a result of COVID-19

  • Partnership Opportunities: OneGoal has always valued innovation and partnering with peer organizations, and these connections are even more valuable in our current crisis. Please reach out if you know an organization that could provide additional support to our teachers and students, or if you or your connections could help us continue to innovate and pivot our program.
  • Financial Support: Due to COVID-19, all of our fundraising events and meetings have been reimagined or postponed for the foreseeable future. Midway through the year, we were on track to meet our fundraising goal. Now, we face an increasing fundraising gap and we anticipate the pandemic will have a  far-reaching financial impact on our country. We will navigate these challenges and pivot our strategies to best support Fellows, but we will need support from our friends and champions to help us weather the storm. We hope you’ll consider making a financial contribution to support our teachers and students through this crisis and beyond.


“The need will never be greater for an organization like ours, one that takes students who so often slip through the cracks, and helps them build a foundation for themselves and for the generations to come. Within just a couple of weeks, our community has gone above and beyond to show up for our students, and as a result, we will emerge stronger than ever.” -Sarah Berghorst, Executuve Director, One Goal Chicago

Learn more here

Purdue Minority Engineering Program

Established in 1974, Purdue Minority Engineering Programs have been nationally recognized and replicated to advance engineering learning, discovery, and engagement in fulfillment of the Land Grant promise through outreach, recruitment, and retention of historically underrepresented students in their pursuit to become extraordinary Purdue engineers. Although our programs are open to all students without regard to race, ethnicity, or gender, underrepresented students at Purdue University include African Americans, Latino/Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders.


In response to the impacts of Covid-19, MEP has taken the following steps:


  • MEP is operating on a ZOOM video platform
  • MEP LIVE: “We are Family” Series featuring students, parents, faculty, alumni. Copies of each session is posted on social media and on the MEP website
  • MEP is revisiting the establishment of an MEP Advisory Board to be launched by fall 2020
    • Eugene Jones, Retired NROTC Commander at Purdue University is acting as board chair and is developing a viable board framework
  • MEP Scholarship Program (new launch 2020)
    • MEP has invested $100,000 of unrestricted funds towards an Annual Scholarship Program to meet the challenges of college affordability. We will be launching a campaign for unrestricted gifts to MEP to continue this practice annually as part of the MEP Advisory Board’s goals. Part of the strategy for fund raising will focus on perpetual monthly giving at different giving levels comfortable for alums and donors. Current goal is to attract 500 alums that will give a minimum monthly gift of $50.00 perpetually. Many will be able to do more, but with a perpetual commitment, MEP will be able to run without dependence on corporate support.
  • COVID Adaptation/Concerns
    • Concerned about being able to employ current student staff confirmed through end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2020)
    • Current employees have a job commitment through the end of the fiscal year.
    • Freeze on all open positions. Current unfilled positions may be discontinued.
  • Student employees (work to afford college)
    • $50K to $80K per year for student mentors, tutors, student MEP staff – Because of the commitment to scholarships, student work is threatened.
  • Virtual one-week summer camps and five week Academic Boot Camp WILL BE OFFERED SUMMER 2020!
    • Offered at cost – We post the actual cost and provide scholarships to participants with need
      • Focus areas: Math proficiency
      • Hand’s-on project taught through a virtual video platform
      • Mentoring and meeting staff, students, faculty and administrators
  • NEW! Algebra by 7th Grade Program year -long engagement  (serving grades 2-7)
    • Partnership with Lafayette School Corporation with focus on students of color –mentors NEEDED that can volunteer virtually



There is work to be done to change the trajectory of our children. No ONE can do it alone, but each ONE, working towards a common goal, can change the world!  I am grateful to do this work with YOU.  Virginia Booth Womack, Director, Purdue Minority Engineering Programs

Bottom Line

Bottom Line partners with students from underserved communities to help them get into and through college and successfully launch a career. Bottom Line believes that a college degree is one of the most powerful engines for increasing one’s long-term economic and social mobility and for ensuring a choice-filled life. Likewise, Bottom Line was founded on the belief that a student’s motivation and ambition should be the key factor that determines their long-term success, not their zip code or family’s income.

Now more than ever, student engagement through relationship-based advising remains our top priority. As students are navigating new expectations around remote instruction and social distancing, Bottom Line is committed to connecting them to the resources they need to persist through school and graduate prepared to successfully launch their careers. Anticipating the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the economy and job market, Bottom Line is actively building out additional resources for students to help them navigate virtual interviews and networking in this time.

Below are three specific ways you can support Bottom Line students:

  1. Financial support to ensure we can continue to provide one-on-one advising & support to our students. If you are able, please make a gift today to support the nearly 1,600 students we serve.
  2. Internship opportunities for our college students. Please contact Monica Cohen at if your know of internship opportunities at your company or are interested in providing remote interview practice to our students.
  3. Connections to companies who could hire our students. If you are aware of any companies hiring for entry level, full time roles in Boston, Chicago and/or New York, please add these opportunities to our working list HEREPlease note this is an open document to all of our students across the organization, so students from Boston, Chicago, New York, or Worcester may reach out to you directly for support.

“During these difficult and uncertain times, I am even more inspired by our students’ persistence to become the first person in their families to cross the finish line and graduate from college. They are living signs of hope for a brighter future for Chicago.”- Chris Broughton, Executive Director, Bottom Line

Surge Institute

The Surge Institute was founded in 2014 with a bold and unapologetic mission – to educate and develop leaders of color who create transformative change in urban education. We believe that sustainable positive impact for youth and communities must include leaders who have shared experiences with those communities. Our ultimate goal is to dramatically improve outcomes and access for students through representative leadership. The Surge Fellowship is the signature program of the Surge Institute. It is a one-year cohort-based experience that unites 20-25 leaders of color in education, and provides tools and experiences for them to tap into their existing, innate power and accelerate their leadership and impact. Surge Fellows go on a journey, not just learning the hard skills needed to function at the executive level, navigate complex systems, and effectively change the status quo, they also join a vast network of authentic, critically thinking, and equity driven leaders of color who understand and support each other’s needs.

During this time, we know the care and education of our youth remains critical, and leadership matters more than ever. As we’ve all seen, this pandemic is having a devastating and heartbreaking impact on communities of color, and we need leaders of color who are leading for racial equity in our schools, organizations and communities to be well and to effectively navigate change during these challenging times. At Surge, we are resolute on the importance of continuing our work, and we have transitioned our sacred leadership space to a virtual setting, while recognizing that our work cannot be business as usual, virtually. We have taken a step back to assess the needs of our community, and are shifting our curriculum and experiences to meet those needs.

We are also supporting our fellows on the front lines through the launch of our Surge Relief Fund, a fund that provides tangible support, such as food, shelter, and technology, to Surge community members directly serving youth and communities that have been impacted by the pandemic. We encourage and welcome your contributions to the Surge Relief Fund. We also encourage your contributions to sustain our core work to support the growth and development of leaders of color through the Chicago Surge Fellowship.

Quote about your hopefulness for the future of our communities.

“This is an incredibly challenging and heartbreaking time in the world and in our country. Vulnerable communities, including communities of color, are experiencing significant loss of life and security during this time. It is important for me to acknowledge this suffering, while also holding other powerful truths about our communities. Our communities are incredibly resilient and ingenious, and are organizing to respond to those in greatest need. The response and commitment of our communities to take care of each other in times of greatest need is where my greatest hope lies.” 

Learn more here

The Partnership for College Completion


The Partnership for College Completion is a regional nonprofit organization focused on increasing college completion rates in and around Chicago, particularly for low-income, first generation and other underrepresented college students.

We do this by:

  • Working with colleges and universities across northeastern Illinois to expand and scale practices proven to increase graduation rates,
  • Advocating at the local, state, and federal level for legislative and administrative policy efforts that propel institutional reforms prioritizing student success, and
  • Using our research and reporting capabilities to elevate public discourse about the state’s stagnating graduation rates and the urgency with which they need to be addressed.


“During these uncertain times in which our colleges and universities work to educate, assure, and support students who themselves are navigating the ambiguity created by the coronavirus pandemic, I have to remain optimistic about what comes next and the opportunities that the current crisis presents to implement more student centric approaches to ensuring that our most vulnerable students have access to and support through higher education.”


  • Increased financial support from current and prospective donors.
  • Exemplars from other convening organizations of how to adapt in a distant world.
  • Discounted services from existing professional service vendors (i.e. accounting, legal, audit).

Learn more here


About Project SYNCERE

Project SYNCERE (Supporting Youth’s Needs with Core Engineering Research Experiments) is a Chicago-based non-profit whose mission is to prepare the minds and create pathways for underrepresented and disadvantaged students to pursue careers in the STEM fields. First launched in 2009, our year-round engineering inspired programs ensure youth from underserved communities have access to opportunities that inspire and prepare them for future careers in STEM. Through our innovative project-based learning curriculum, Project SYNCERE inspires more than 3,500 students annually in the STEM fields, providing them with the resources and opportunities necessary to thrive in the STEM fields.

Immediate Needs

  • Funding to help w/ the transfer of STEM programming to a virtual learning environment. Funding will help cover the cost of the following:
    • Learning Management System Integration
    • Project materials that will be sent to students’ home
    • Training of instructors to deliver virtual curriculum
    • Development of new virtual curriculum
  • Funding to help cover the loss of income for general operating expenses (payroll, rent, utilities, etc…)
  • STEM professionals to participate in virtual interview recordings to help us create a series of videos to expose students to various engineering fields
  • Assistance w/ promotions/marketing to ensure students/families are aware of the programming opportunities that are available to them

Quote about Hopefulness

Our light continues to shine bright despite all the uncertainty in the world today. The resilient spirits of our communities and neighbors proves that no matter how bad things get, we will rise through it all.

Learn more here


Braven supports underrepresented students from college to career by partnering directly with universities and employers to offer a two-part experience that begins with a credit-bearing course followed by a post-course experience that lasts through graduation.  Fellows emerge from Braven with the skills, experiences and networks they need to land a strong first job and get on a path to economic freedom.

Braven has worked with more than 2,000 students since 2014 and will graduate 600 in 2020. Their graduates significantly outpace national job attainment averages — 71% of their college graduates attained a strong job within 6 months of graduation compared to 49% of Black and Latinx students at public universities and 56% of all students. In addition, 95% are persisting in or have graduated from college.

  • Now more than ever, promising young people from humble beginnings need our support. While physical distancing orders are in effect, we can still connect socially online to help them build their networks. A strong network can ensure students are well positioned to come out of this with careers that put them on the path to the American Dream, and volunteers are key for this effort.
  • We hope you’ll consider getting involved with Braven; you can view opportunities and sign up here.
  • We’re working to empower thousands more students at this time, including graduating seniors from low-income backgrounds as they navigate this economic crisis. Help us grow our impact to build the career skills, networks, experiences, and confidence for more students from humble beginnings at

“It is the challenging times, not the good ones, that define who we are. It’s up to us as a society to come together to get through this together and help our most vulnerable citizens. My personal hope is that this crisis leads us to become the next ‘greatest generation.’ ” – Aimee Eubanks Davis, Founder and CEO

Kids First Chicago

Kids First Chicago (K1C) is an education non-profit that works to ensure that every family and child in Chicago has access to a high-quality education. Our work focuses on activating parents to identify, navigate to, and advocate for quality public schools for their kids. Then, we work directly with district leadership, using parent input to shape education policy to better support families.

Over the last few weeks, our team has spoken with more than 200 parents and community members to ask what they need during this crisis. To ensure that these families’ voices are being heard, we have doubled down on three key strategies:

  1. Continually connect one-on-one with the families we serve, linking them to resources as needed.
  2. Raise the profile on the urgent and emergent needs that they share with us, ensuring the district and city/state leadership are responding to their concerns and centering their perspectives.
  3. Share our learnings with our philanthropic, nonprofit, education, and community partners so that we all can work together to find creative solutions during this extraordinary time.

Chicago’s communities and families have repeatedly shown their resilience and power in the face of crisis and disinvestment. Their stories are humbling and inspiring during a time that is uncertain and scary for all of us. We know that we can overcome this crisis – together.  – Daniel Anello, CEO, Kids First Chicago

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