As a current board member and the daughter of WITS co-founder, Joanne Alter, I am admittedly biased, but I am continually impressed with the organization’s welcoming approach to change. I have been involved with a number of nonprofits over the years, and I view this as a critical success factor. Even before the pandemic struck, WITS leadership was considering where it might have the greatest impact in the future, looking at legacy programs with a critical eye and zeroing in on those that will best advance our purpose of setting students on a trajectory for success.
This exercise served us well when the pandemic struck; we were able to refocus quickly and continue to serve Chicago’s students. We are exceptionally fortunate that our staff is primed to embrace change, and grateful that our volunteers were open to new ways of making a difference. Add to that our strong relationships with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) plus the support and advocacy of both principals and teachers who see and appreciate the benefits of working with WITS, and we were well situated to report impressive 2021 results.
Every day we hear about the serious problems Chicago and CPS face. Against that backdrop, I am encouraged and optimistic when I learn of the impact of our not so secret sauce: teacher-led professional development and volunteer-powered mentorship programs. All in all, it is a joy to be so clear that our value can be summed up in two words: Reading Matters.