2018 ANNUAL REPORT

Growth beyond numbers.

Message from our CEO

Today, before settling in to read our 2018 Annual Report, you already read thousands of words. Written language surrounds you, and reading it is as natural as breathing. It is a skill you cannot forget or turn off. Not only are you able to enjoy books, stay current with news, and scan social media, but you can also follow signs to navigate the city. You can complete a form at the doctor’s office. You can add a fare to your Ventra card. You can vote.

For 28 years WITS has been building positive self-identity and foundational literacy skills in young readers, supporting their opportunities, agency, and goals.

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92

CHICAGO ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

From the Loop to West Garfield Park, from Uptown to Altgeld Gardens, WITS volunteers and educators shared their love of reading with students in 92 Chicago elementary schools.

WITS Schools

38,725

HOURS OF LITERACY MENTORSHIP

WITS is proud to be the largest volunteer corps serving CPS. Our volunteers gave 38,725 hours of literacy mentorship to thousands of students in the 2018-2019 school year.

Volunteer with WITS

2,646

HOURS OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

149 Rochelle Lee Teacher Awardees participated in 2,646 hours of free, educator-led professional development workshops.

Learn about RLTA

30,708

BOOKS SENT HOME WITH STUDENTS

WITS sent 30,708 books home with students to build their at-home libraries and reinforce positive reading behaviors.

Make a Donation

70 %

OF WITS STUDENTS OUTPERFORMED THEIR PEERS

70% of WITS students outperformed their peers in beginning of year to end of year reading level growth.

More WITS Outcomes

92

CHICAGO ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

From the Loop to West Garfield Park, from Uptown to Altgeld Gardens, WITS volunteers and educators shared their love of reading with students in 92 Chicago elementary schools.

WITS Schools

38,725

HOURS OF LITERACY MENTORSHIP

WITS is proud to be the largest volunteer corps serving CPS. Our volunteers gave 38,725 hours of literacy mentorship to thousands of students in the 2018-2019 school year.

Volunteer with WITS

2,646

HOURS OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

149 Rochelle Lee Teacher Awardees participated in 2,646 hours of free, educator-led professional development workshops.

Learn about RLTA

30,708

BOOKS SENT HOME WITH STUDENTS

WITS sent 30,708 books home with students to build their at-home libraries and reinforce positive reading behaviors.

Make a Donation

70 %

OF WITS STUDENTS OUTPERFORMED THEIR PEERS

70% of WITS students outperformed their peers in beginning of year to end of year reading level growth.

More WITS Outcomes

THE WITS MISSION

WITS sets students on a trajectory for success by building critical literacy skills and developing positive self-identity through teacher led professional development and  volunteer powered mentorship programs.

Learn what the mission means to Kristen Strobbe, WITS Chief Program Officer. 

THE WITS MISSION

WITS sets students on a trajectory for success by building critical literacy skills and developing positive self-identity through teacher led professional development and  volunteer powered mentorship programs.

Learn what the mission means to Kristen Strobbe, WITS Chief Program Officer. 

83% of Drake's third grade students who participated in the Midday Mentoring Program met or exceeded their reading assessment goals and WITS contributed to this success.

-sydney GOLlIDAY, principal of DRAKE ELEMENTARY

STUDENTS: GROWTH & CONFIDENCE





WITS values student growth, which is prioritized through two measurements of our outcomes: reading level and attitudes toward reading. One way that students show us their growth is through increased confidence that develops over the course of the school year and throughout their years of involvement in WITS programming. Through our literacy mentorship programs, students are encouraged to develop a positive self-identity.

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TEACHERS: BRENTANO STUDY GROUPS

"Being a part of the Rochelle Lee Teacher Award (RLTA) program has opened many doors to improve my abilities to lead literacy instruction. Through the summer workshops, I have been able to learn and implement new ideas into my classroom. . . I am choosing to step into this leadership role because it is one of the reasons that brings me back to RLTA every year. Through my experience with WITS I’ve been pushed and given the opportunity to grow as an educator, a professional colleague, and a leader.” - Vy Nguyen, Study Group Member at Brentano Elementary

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Volunteering at WITS every year brings me great joy and satisfaction. I wholly believe in their mission, working with children to improve reading skills that will prepare them year after year and for the rest of their lives. When I walk into [Lozano] on Thursday mornings, I feel a community around me. Watching a child's face light up when they read a few words or a whole sentence for the first time [is] truly magical.  

-Jean Sykora, WITS Kindergarten volunteer at Lozano Elementary

VOLUNTEERS: MARK ANDERSEN

For the past decade, Mark Andersen has volunteered as a WITS Mid-Day Mentoring (MDM) literacy mentor. Once a week for an entire school year, Mark visits Manuel Perez, Jr. Elementary school in the Pilsen neighborhood to read one-on-one with a student. Mark reads out loud with his student, modeling fluent reading (pausing at commas and periods, pronouncing words correctly, etc.) and helping his student comprehend the story by asking questions and reacting to the text. These techniques support his student in becoming a better reader, as well as sparking a lifelong love for reading. 

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CORPORATE PARTNERS: DELOITTE





The Growth and Success of the WITS/Deloitte Partnership

Partnerships between WITS mentors and students are the driving force of WITS volunteer programs. These relationships develop over the course of the school year through weekly reading sessions and provide a comfortable space for students to test concepts and grow. Over time, familiarity and commitment to shared goals result in a stronger, more effective program. Just as students benefit from consistent relationships with their mentors,  WITS benefits from its trusted partnership with Deloitte.

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WITS is important to me because it addresses an ongoing need in the Chicago community: the enrichment of education and providing everyone the opportunity to succeed in reading. WITS truly inserts itself in places where it is needed the most, not necessarily those that are most convenient. WITS works, period. I feel confident that my time and financial resources are going where they are most needed, to a program with proven success.

- MEG HIESTAND, COORDINATOR OF COMMUNITY RELATIONS, WHITE SOX

DONORS: SUPPORTING THE MISSION

We gratefully acknowledge the individuals, foundations, and corporations that charitably supported the WITS mission in 2018. With their support, we provide quality literacy enrichment and teacher professional development programs at zero cost to our city’s most under resourced, deserving neighborhoods.

2018 Donors

DONORS: SUPPORTING THE MISSION

We gratefully acknowledge the individuals, foundations, and corporations that charitably supported the WITS mission in 2018. 

2018 Donors

FINANCIALS: EVERY DOLLAR COUNTS

Every dollar counts


Our donors are our backbone. they make WITS possible. Over the past year, we have grown the depth of our programs while ensuring 81% of our donations go directly to program needs. 

download our 2018 financials




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