Genesys Works Among Three Nonprofits to Win ‘Chicago Beyond’s’ Innovation Challenge

August 23, 2016



Genesys Works to Receive $800,000 Investment for Research Partnership to Impact Chicago’s Young People   

CHICAGO – Genesys Works Chicago is thrilled to announce that it is one of three winners in Chicago Beyond’s first-ever innovation challenge, GO Innovate. Launched in April, Chicago Beyond’s GO Innovate challenge sought early-stage ideas that offer innovative programming in two topic areas: Supporting College Matriculation and Graduation; and Reengaging Youth in Work and School.

The innovation investments from Chicago Beyond include a research partnership with the University of Chicago’s Urban Labs to evaluate the impact of each program. Genesys Works has worked with Chicago Beyond and Urban Labs to develop a unique research question that will allow Chicago Beyond to study their program and better understand what works, for whom, and why, in order to impact a greater number of young Chicagoans and increase the field of knowledge in these topic areas.

“Chicago Beyond’s first innovation challenge brought out some of the best and most innovative ideas in programming to help our city’s youth succeed in school and in life,” Chicago Beyond Managing Director, Liz Dozier, said. “There is no shortage of passion for and commitment to the young people of Chicago. We are grateful for the opportunity to present Genesys Works with investments to not only reach more young Chicagoans immediately, but to learn from and share our research outcomes in order to have a greater impact on the future of our youth nationwide.”

“It is incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to partner with Chicago Beyond and UChicago Urban Labs,” Genesys Works Chicago Executive Director, Jim Morgan, said. “Genesys Works is innovative for our focus on workforce exposure as a driver of educational attainment, and we look forward to better understanding what works about this model and why, so that we can expand and share these lessons to benefit more Chicago youth.”

One of the strongest predictive factors against crime involvement is a high school diploma and educational success is one of the most powerful predictors of earnings, voting, giving back to one’s community, staying healthy and safe, and having children who succeed in school. In Chicago, an estimated 16 percent of public school students in ninth grade in 2015 will enroll in a four-year college directly after graduation and receive a degree within 10 years of starting high school. Nationwide, the estimated rate is 22 percent.

Chicago Beyond’s College Matriculation and Graduation challenge sought programs that could dramatically increase that pipeline of Chicago high school students on a path to completing two and four-year college degrees.

In the Supporting College Matriculation and Graduation topic area, Chicago Beyond will invest nearly $800,000 in Genesys Works to evaluate the effectiveness of the program on college matriculation, graduation rates, and future workforce participation. To test these research questions, Genesys Works will serve one cohort of students across a one-year period, with approximately 205 students receiving the program.

Under the Reengaging Youth in Work and School innovation topic area, Chicago Beyond will invest $900,000 in Storycatchers Theater’s Changing Voices Program. Changing Voices provides small groups of young people who have been recently released from juvenile justice facilities with year-long, paid employment focused on playwriting, production training and performance; Participants write, choreograph, score and ultimately perform real-life stories of struggle and trauma for youth audiences around Chicago, helping participants overcome their own struggles and learn the soft skills necessary to obtain and hold a long-term job. Chicago Beyond will also invest $870,000 in The Dovetail Project, a program that focuses on reengaging young fathers in the lives of their children and setting them on a path to success through education in parenting skills, life skills, and job skills; successful participants aim to concurrently enroll in a GED or job training program and ultimately secure long-term employment.

The commonality between each of Chicago Beyond’s investments is a learning component. A partnership with Urban Labs allows Chicago Beyond to assess the impact of every investment through rigorous scientific evaluation methods and expert analysis. Studying and measuring each investment is essential not only to see what works and why, but it also serves as a vehicle for sharing findings with other nonprofit organizations so they can learn from Chicago Beyond’s investments to ultimately impact more youth.

More than 200 organizations applied for Chicago Beyond’s first innovation challenge. Applications were reviewed by the Chicago Beyond team and finalists were selected by two independent selection committees which were formed for each topic area.

Launched in April 2016, Chicago Beyond is a privately held organization that seeks to create opportunity and access that the young people of Chicago deserve in school, career and life. Chicago Beyond invests in innovative ideas and scalable programs to amplify impact in two areas that are flip sides of the same coin – youth safety and educational attainment. Over time, Chicago Beyond aims to leverage its findings to spark further public and philanthropic investments in work that does the most good per dollar to improve the lives of Chicago’s young people.

Chicago Beyond’s next investment cycle will be announced in 2017. For more information about investment opportunities and the programs Chicago Beyond is supporting, please visit

About Genesys Works Chicago

Genesys Works empowers Chicago’s underserved youth to envision a professional future and to pursue the education needed to make this a reality. In partnership with Chicago Public Schools and the local business community, Genesys Works provides low-income high school students with workforce training, a year-long paid internship, and guidance from high school, through college, and into the workforce. //



Laura Lukens

Director of Development and Communications

Genesys Works Chicago



Katie Hickey

Director of Communications
Chicago Beyond


Latest Posts