9: City collectives – Thrive Chicago

Thrive Chicago, modelled on Strive Cincinnati, aims to increase the diversity of quality enrichment programmes, increase high school graduation rates, and provide additional support for young people to pursue and persist in post-secondary options through a city-wide collective impact strategy.111 The idea behind the collective-impact model is to create a ‘cradle-to-career’ continuum of services for young people in Chicago.

The initiative evolved out of a growing recognition that the institutions serving young people in the city – from the school system and government agencies to non-profit and faith based institutions – had different missions. Thrive Chicago aims to establish a roadmap to strategically connect institutions under a unified vision for education and young people.

Much of the organisation’s first year was spent identifying key outcomes and analysing relevant data, developing necessary infrastructure and building widespread support for the partnership. The Mayor’s Deputy for Education convened 30 key leaders across the city representing community-based organisations, business, philanthropy, and city agencies to serve as thought partners to agree on a common set of goals. These leaders helped to widen engagement to a further 120 organisations in the city that collaborated to build a ‘cradle-to-career’ impact framework for Chicago – including a shared vision and mission, accountability structure and key outcomes to guide the work.

There has been strong momentum across the city around adopting the framework. Thrive Chicago is currently leading the development of a city-wide data warehouse, which will have the ability to connect data from all partner organisations, and a web-based dashboard, which will provide partners with reports on key data points critical to their implementation of Thrive Chicago priorities.


  • 111 Interviews; www.thrivechicago.org