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An Update from Susan Reyna-Guerrero

Dear Friends,


I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying the fun and sun of the summer!! As you may know, July 1 marked the beginning of CHIL’s new fiscal year (FY-2024), making this the perfect time to look back on some of our incredible accomplishments over the past year, as well as share some of our ambitious plans for the future. Your unwavering support and dedication have been instrumental in empowering the young people who come to CHIL for help, and I am truly grateful for your continued commitment to our mission.


FY-2023 Highlights:

The past year at CHIL has been marked by tremendous growth and impact, thanks to the collective efforts of our passionate team, devoted board of directors, and generous donors. Together, we have achieved significant results, including:

  • Serving 89 youth through our Interim Housing Program, offering a safe haven and affirming essential resources to young people in immediate need.

  • Providing wrapround support and assistance to 344 youth through our Drop-In Center, where young people can find respite, sustenance, and access to vital services.

  • Enabling 160 youth to access education and employment opportunities through our Workforce Development programming. I am particularly happy to share that 70 youth successfully maintained or increased their income, with 40 of them securing employment through CHIL!!

  • Providing nearly 9,000 nights of housing, ensuring that young people have a secure place to rest and rejuvenate as they work towards self-sufficiency.

  • Providing mental health services to 39 youth, underscoring our commitment to addressing the emotional well-being of the young people we serve.

  • Serving more than 50,000 meals – offering an array of culinary delights, from our ever-popular snacks to hot and nutritious dinners and everything in-between.

Last fiscal year also saw the creation of CHIL’s first ever, three-year strategic plan. Approved by CHIL’s board of directors in May, the document outlines our strategic vision for the next 36 months, and serves as a road map for all projects, programming initiatives, and service expansion activities through 2025. It is bold and transformative plan that was shaped by youth voice, which is powerful.


Realizing Our Vision:

As we embark on the next three fiscal years, I am pleased to share our primary strategic initiatives, which form the bedrock of our vision to make a meaningful and enduring impact in the lives of the young people we serve:

  1. Completing the development of our final phase of campus development and opening 19 additional beds of transitional housing on our second floor

  2. Developing and implementing a new program model for transitional housing that supports a specific, high-need group of young people, driven by youth voice and data.

  3. Creating an executable plan for a new permanent housing initiative and launching the associated predevelopment and fundraising processes.

This fiscal year, our immediate priority will be Initiative No. 1: the completion of campus renovations, allowing us to finish construction of our second floor and Launch our Rights of Passage (ROP) Transitional Housing Program, proving 19 young people with shelter and tailored support services for up to two years!

Pictured above: cut out rendering showing partial detail of redeveloped 2nd floor


FY-2024 will also see us continue to expand services, achieve full-capacity in our amazing new campus, and ultimately engage even greater numbers of young people experiencing homelessness.


With a commitment to fostering a truly inclusive environment where every voice is heard and valued, we will continue to work hand in hand with our young people, developing programs and services that better address their unique circumstances and maximize their opportunities to succeed.


We will also continue to strengthen community partnerships. Recognizing the power of collaboration, CHIL pledges to strengthen our bonds with community groups, governmental agencies, and fellow nonprofits. Together, we can create a united front against youth homelessness and advocate for systemic change.


FY-2024 will also see CHIL strengthen our commitment to staff development, making certain that not only are we able to recruit the very best candidates to serve our youth, but also that we can effectively support their growth – both personally and professionally – ensuring staff retention and cultivating an inclusive working environment where every team member can contribute and flourish.

***

As the Executive Director of CHIL, I am profoundly grateful for your continued belief in our work. Your support makes it possible for us to continue providing vital services and opportunities to young people experiencing homelessness. The past few years have seen CHIL transform from a small non-profit with a meager drop-in center and just 12 shelter beds into one of the most trusted and respected resources for vulnerable youth in the city of Chicago. With greater capacity, a renewed commitment to innovative solutions, and the expertise to implement our comprehensive vision, I am excited about what the future may hold, for CHIL, and for the young people we serve.


As we take the first steps into this new fiscal year, I want to thank you all once again for standing beside us on this journey. With your support, we can reach even more young people in need, offering them hope, stability, and a path towards sustainable independence.


With sincere gratitude,





Susan Reyna-Guerrero


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