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Over the last decade, the Trust and Kinship Foundation have elevated the concept of collaboration to exciting new heights by co-creating and investing in major funding initiatives centered on shared priorities. 

Kinship Foundation is a private operating foundation that advances the institutional philanthropy of the Searle Family. 

Building on previous successful partnerships like Food:Land:Opportunity, in 2020, the Trust and the Foundation unveiled Bridges to Brighter Futures—an initiative to help Black, Latinx, and low-income students secure good jobs and a better financial outlook through two-year college and certification programs that won’t leave them saddled with debt. Funded through the Searle Funds at the Trust, the program speaks to Kinship Foundation’s longstanding interest in ensuring a quality education for all Chicago students, as well as the Trust’s strategic priority of reducing debt and growing household wealth as paths to closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap. 

In building out Bridges to Brighter Futures, the Trust and Kinship Foundation have worked side-by-side—and in consultation with grant recipients—to mutually decide on targets for success and design every aspect of the program’s strategy. As with any collaboration, trust, communication, and patience have been key ingredients for a successful working relationship. 

Both organizations are committed to a process of continuous learning and fine-tuning of approaches. That flexibility was key in March 2020, when Bridges’ pre-planned launch collided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The team responded by directing most of the year’s grants to tuition assistance and other essential supports for students grappling with the crisis. Nearly $2.5 million was granted to 14 recipients across Bridges’ three focus areas: advancing institutional equity, building student supports, and encouraging cross-sector collaboration. 

In the years to come, the Trust and Kinship Foundation look forward to continuing to deepen and evolve their collaboration so that all Chicago students can find their best path forward to a happy and fulfilling future. 

“The Trust has what it takes to create significant, long-term change, and we are so honored to be at the table with them.”
-Lara Pruitt, Director of Education Initiatives, Kinship Foundation

“We are beyond grateful to Kinship Foundation for their collaboration and commitment to helping Chicago students meet their potential.”
-Joanna Trotter, Senior Director of Community Impact, The Chicago Community Trust