Empower Illinois

Big Dreams, Bold Ideas

aka One Chance Illinois   |   Chicago, IL   |  www.empowerillinois.org

Mission

Empower Illinois has a big, bold mission rooted in the simple belief that every child should have access to high quality education options. Empower Illinois formed to fight for children whose educational options are limited by household income, neighborhood, or learning style. Our scholarships, policy work, and advocacy provide families with the opportunity to send their kids to their best-fit school.

Ruling year info

2010

President

Anthony C. Holter

Main address

200 N. Lasalle Street Suite 2310

Chicago, IL 60601 USA

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Formerly known as

One Chance Illinois

EIN

27-2479414

NTEE code info

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (B01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Empower Illinois is a statewide Scholarship Granting Organization created in 2017 to serve Illinois children through the state’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Public education is rooted in the promise of equal opportunity, but for too many children who live near poverty or for students with certain special needs, those opportunities are out of reach. The Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship Program was created in Illinois to benefit children whose educational options are limited by household income. Our scholarships provide families a way to help their children access their best-fit school.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program

Empower Illinois’ primary initiative is Illinois’ Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Empower Illinois is the state’s largest, most comprehensive scholarship granting organization (SGO). We have successfully raised the most donations, received the greatest number of applications, and awarded more scholarships than any other SGO in the state. Since the program’s inception in 2018, we have raised more than $175M and awarded more than 22,000 scholarships. Empower Illinois partners with approximately 91% of all Illinois’ recognized private schools to ensure families have options to find their child’s best fit school. We support schools and school networks in their tax credit scholarship fundraising efforts while assisting students and their families through the scholarship process that can help make their dreams a reality.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Families
Parents
Low-income people
Students

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total dollar amount of scholarship awarded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

These numbers reflect fundraising totals for the Tax Credit Scholarship Program by year.

Number of children who have access to education

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

These totals represent the total number of scholarships awarded by year.

Number of links and collaborations with external organizations that support student learning and its priority tasks

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

These numbers reflect the total number of school partners with scholarships for each year.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Empower Illinois mission is to expand quality education options for low-income and working-class families of Illinois.

Empower Illinois serves as a conduit for processing donations, scholarship awards and program compliance for approximately 90% of all Illinois private schools.

After helping to pass the Invest in Kids Act in 2017, Empower Illinois remained committed to working with schools and families as a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) and managing the Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Program. In order to meet the demand for tens of thousands of students applying for scholarships and the management of donations made by thousands donors, Empower Illinois has made innovative use of computing technology to create the patented EmpowerXChange® system to process applications, make awards, and accept donations. Our expert team of customer success agents maintains a 98% satisfaction rating.

Empower Illinois has passed four laws to improve education options and access for kids from low-income and working-class families. Since 2018, the organization has awarded more than 22,000 scholarships and raised more than $170 million for the Tax Credit Scholarship Program.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Empower Illinois serves students seeking access to their best-fit school that might otherwise be limited by family income or ZIP Code. To accomplish our mission, we work with low-income and working-class families, K-12 private schools, community partners and program donors.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Empower Illinois is always looking to improve its programs. We regularly seek input from our family and school partners to have the tax credit scholarship program best serve them. Two areas of program improvement requested by our partners were creating year-over-year scholarship priority and the ability to offer partial scholarships. In 2022, Empower Illinois helped author House Bill 4126 to make these improvements. As of summer 2022, this bill has become law. HB4126 will offer greater education stability to currently participating students with year-over-year scholarship priority and positively impact the greater than 25,000 students still waiting in line for a scholarship by allowing for partial scholarships that can benefit even more students.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    By soliciting feedback, our stakeholders have a voice in our priorities and improvement plans. This two-way communication creates a greater investment in our mission and programs.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

Empower Illinois
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Empower Illinois

Board of directors
as of 06/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Jim Perry

Madison Dearborn Partners

Term: 2016 - 2023

John Schoenig

Notre Dame

Ward Hamm

PWC (retired)

Sara Albrecht

Swan Capital, LLC

Jack Buck

Free Market Ventures

Dan Lipinski

Former United States Congressman

Karin Norington-Reaves

Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership

Chris Vallace

M3 Capital Partners

Avrum Weinfeld

Bria Health Services

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 6/16/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 06/16/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
Policies and processes
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.