Community - Empowerment - Consistency


At the center of everything WITS does are our three core values: community, empowerment, and consistency. As I reflect on 2019, the meaning behind these words in the context of our world today has evolved.

Read More


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 Lauren Rocklin, President, WITS Board of Directors.

Read More

what did we accomplish in 2019?

WITS volunteers and educators shared their love of reading with students in 92 Chicago elementary schools.

Our volunteers gave 14,000 hours of literacy mentorship to thousands of students in the 2018-2019 school year.

Rochelle Lee Teacher Awardees participated in 1,648 hours of free, educator-led professional development workshops.

Across all WITS programs, WITS students improved their reading level growth by four reading levels, surpassing the national average of three levels.

WITS created WITS Kindergarten Strategy Cards to provide mentors with additional tips and tricks to help their young students develop foundational literacy skills.

WITS began work on a strategic vision that shifts focus from the number and size of our programs, to the impact our programs have on the school communities we serve.


WITS Students Empowered to Grow

At the center of everything WITS does are our three core values: consistency, empowerment, and community. One way that students are empowered is through the relationships they build with their mentors and the growth this inspires in them over the course of their time in WITS and beyond. From these relationships, students learn how to express themselves more clearly, be confident, and use their creativity and imagination. When WITS students experience these relationships, they are empowered to grow. These moments happen throughout our programs and are noticed not just by the students, but by their mentors and parents as well.
Read More

The WITS Impact: Outcomes

WITS welcomes all students to participate in programs, regardless of their reading level. Whether the student is reading above grade-level and needing an extra challenge, or an emerging reader who needs practice with fundamentals, WITS helps them grow. Because success looks different for every student we serve, the WITS impact focuses on two outcomes: individual reading level growth from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, and attitudes toward reading.

Read More

Teachers Advance Literacy Through Collaboration

WITS engages teachers through the Rochelle Lee Teacher Award because we know we cannot advance student literacy without supporting the educators who lead them in the classroom each and every day. The Rochelle Lee Teacher Award provides Chicago Public Schools teachers with access to the tools, resources, and community they need to create and support professional learning communities within their schools. This elevates their instruction and fosters a culture of learning and collaboration among their peers, administrators, and students.

Read More

Building Lasting Connections with Students

Roseann Saldana has volunteered as a WITS Workplace Mentoring (WPM) literacy mentor for the past seven years. Every Thursday afternoon during the school year, Ro leaves her desk to go down to the 48th floor conference room at Exelon to mentor her Lozano student, Brianna. During the one-hour session, Ro and Brianna read to each other, decode tricky words, tackle tough homework questions, and – most importantly – building lasting connections and a purposeful mentorship relationship. 
Read More

Celebrating Corporate Partners for Two Decades of Service

Relationships are an essential component of the WITS mission. When our students and mentors come together throughout the school year to collectively learn and grow, an investment occurs. WITS mentors invest in fostering a shared love of reading, supporting social-emotional development, and building literacy skills in Chicago Public School (CPS) students. Delivering the WITS mission without reliance on school or city budgets similarly requires an investment; one which began in 1999 with the launch of our Workplace Mentoring program. WITS is celebrating corporate partners for their 20 years of commitment to our mission, our city, and our students’ development as confident readers.

Read More

SUPPORTING our core values

We gratefully acknowledge the individuals, foundations, and corporations that charitably supported the WITS mission in 2019. Our donors play a crucial role in fulfilling our mission and vision. Thank you.

2019 donors

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 76% of our donations go directly to program needs.

download our 2019 financials

WITS delivers

0 hours

of literacy mentorship each year in Chicago Public Schools.

Wits provides

0 hours

of literacy professional development for teachers.


0 books

to the homes of students and classrooms of Rochelle Lee Teacher Awardees each year.

wits contributes

$0 million

annually through volunteer hours and direct programmitc investment in Chicago Public Schools students and teachers.