Our Programs
Awards Given on October 14, 2015 (See Awards)
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Every adult can make a difference in the life of a child who has experienced trauma they understand how to approach the child and make him or her feel safe. Every adult who has contact with children should be aware of childhood trauma and those who work with high-risk populations should understand how to best support these children.
This is why BPF is taking a multi-strategic approach to create agencies that have a trauma-informed culture so that trauma understanding is reflected in every aspect of its work. Additionally, BPF provided funding for a state-wide public awareness campaign on childhood trauma. Check out the recently launched campaign, Look Through Their Eyes.

Our Programs

Bright Promises Foundation currently has three important program areas, each of which is carefully crafted to ensure that we create a lasting difference in the lives of Illinois children. In addition, we present our Awards to individuals in our communities who embody the mission of Bright Promises.


Bright Promises is unique in that we focus on the most pressing unmet needs of disadvantaged children in Illinois. To determine these issues, we convene panels of experts in children’s issues and carefully craft a response. We work with individuals, foundations, agencies, legislators, parents and the media to join us in supporting these needs. We solicit grant applications and make grants to support our Focus issue as well as attract volunteers and funds to our organization. We ensure that we leave lasting change in our focus area by creating systematic and lasting change affecting whole sites or agencies.

While our Focus changes as as our children’s most pressing needs evolve, we never lose sight of our goal to improve the lives and the futures of Illinois children. From 2008 – 2012, we funded programs that decreased childhood obesity and improved health outcomes for low-income and other at-risk children between the ages of 8-12.


The Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition defines trauma as the emotionally painful experience of an event by a child resulting in lasting mental or physical effects. Many Illinois children have experienced one or more traumatic occurrences such as violence, poverty, abuse or neglect which can often lead to adverse behaviors, mental illness and all sorts of social, emotional and cognitive impairments. Furthermore, there is a direct correlation between childhood trauma and negative health and behavioral outcomes later in life. The good news is that these negative outcomes can be prevented if the child feels protected and is surrounded by adults that can provide certain coping skills and a positive environment.

BPF believes that all children deserve to feel safe and happy. For traumatized children, daily life can be scary and difficult.

2015 Bright Promises Foundation Guidelines to learn about how Bright Promises Foundation is tackling the issue and helping children who have been exposed to trauma.


EQUIP, Early Childhood Quality Improvement Program, is a collaboration of five Chicago-area funders. EQUIP makes grants for up to two years to early childhood education centers to help them make improvements that will directly and positively affect low-income children between the ages of birth to five. EQUIP is administered by Bright Promises and includes the Leo S. Guthman Fund, Prince Charitable Trusts, Pritzker Early Childhood Foundation and an anonymous foundation. Click here to learn more and to review the 2014 guidelines.


Bright Promises Foundation places an emphasis on partnering with cutting-edge programs to take calculated risks to get results for our children. As part of our special initiatives, BPF is working in a couple of ways to ensure that Illinois children are receiving the right opportunities to reach their maximum potential.


Prep to Succeed is a pilot project that creates equal educational opportunities for inner-city students. It matches high-school students preparing for college entrance exams with tutors to ensure that each student is prepared and ready to take the exam. This past spring, Prep to Succeed completed its inaugural semester of ACT tutoring. Twelve students from the southwest side of Chicago participated in the ten-week program, meeting with their tutor each Saturday morning at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Students took the exam in late April. The scores demonstrated substantial improvement, with the average student’s score increasing 2.625 points. Prep to Succeed has plans to expand its services to more students next year, and hopes to work with more schools and organizations that serve Chicago high school students in the future.


BPF is conducting an assessment of the 30+20+10 pilot program that is being rolled out in Chicago Public Schools. The program extends physical education, recess, and movement to elementary students with a goal to increase the current average of once-per-week physical education to 30 minutes each day of physical education, plus 20 minutes of recess and 10 minutes of in-class movement.


Awards are given annually to honor individuals who make a difference in the lives of children. Two awards, named after past Directors, are given for a lifetime of achievement on behalf of vulnerable children and for up-and-coming leaders for professional development.



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