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FY23 Annual Report

JULY 1, 2022 – JUNE 30, 2023

Dear Friends,

I sincerely hope that this finds you and those who are dear to you continually well and safe. I was recently asked, “What is your superpower?” I had to pause for a moment and consider the question. What does that mean? I settled on: An ability greater than what is considered normal.

In a world that often moves at the speed of light and more often celebrates individual pursuits, I think the superpower that everyone reading this letter shares is the ability to consider and respond to the needs of others. It is evident when the staff work tirelessly to help a child and/ or family in need, a Board member mobilizes their network on behalf of CPA’s mission, volunteers give up their Saturday to play “elf,” or our generous supporters allocate their resources. All of it is done in support of our mission and reveals our shared hope for our communities and city.

The most striking thing about our collective superpower is that from all walks of life, and cultures, crossing politics and other polarizing issues, we are united because we are great at giving. Time. Money. Friendship. Talent. Caring. Hope. Whatever way you have supported our mission that endeavors to secure today in pursuit of a better tomorrow, the Children’s Place Association applauds you.

This year, we celebrated the agency’s first live adoption since the start of the pandemic. Our team helped a Dad secure custody of his two-year-old daughter. We began the work of expanding direct clinical services to bolster supportive housing outcomes. We continued to build our school partnership ecosystem so that more children can benefit from Child Thrive’s burgeoning model. What’s more, our early learning center was lauded for achieving full enrollment in record time this school year, all while marching steadily toward national accreditation!

Your willingness to champion our cause is what makes all of it possible. So, as we look back on the past year and forward to the year to come, I hope you show off your superpower unabashedly and never tuck your cape! The children and families we serve need us all to demonstrate the power and potential that abounds when we care for others.

With gratitude,
Cinaiya Stubbs
President & CEO, Children’s Place Association

FY23 Highlights

The year marked a transformative period for Children’s Place as the world transitioned from the pandemic. Systemic challenges and staff shortages persisted. A harsh Chicago winter posed an additional hurdle, with frozen pipes flooding our suite, rendering our main space uninhabitable for several months.

Resilience Amidst Setbacks: Undeterred by setbacks, our dedicated team persevered in providing essential services to our families, demonstrating their incredible resilience and commitment to our mission.

Addressing Mental Health Challenges: Responding to the rising prevalence of mental health issues, we proactively welcomed a clinical psychologist to our team, enhancing our ability to better assist our families in navigating their myriad challenges.

Milestones and Collaborations: The year saw the first live adoption event since 2019 and establishing a new partnership with KIPP and Child Thrive. Key leadership changes and new hires further strengthened our team.

Celebrating Support and Achievements: Acknowledging long-term supporters and receiving awards for staff and leadership, the year was characterized by growth, change, and a renewed focus on spreading awareness of compassion and a shared sense of connection within our community.

We thank our dedicated volunteers, generous donors, committed staff, and visionary leaders for standing by our side and sharing in our successes. Your unwavering support has been instrumental in our achievements this year.

Looking Ahead: As we reflect on the year, we contemplate what it means to show up and contribute meaningfully, creating sustainable pathways for those in need. The journey continues, guided by a shared commitment to positively impact the lives of the vulnerable children and families we serve.

Tone Bale

Remembering a Leader

Robert Tone Bale

While there was a lot to commemorate, we also had to bid farewell to one of our biggest advocates, Robert Tone Bale, a founding board member and early leader of Children’s Place, who passed away on July 23, 2022 at the age of 83.  Tone served on our Board for 18 years (1989-1999 & 2013-2021) and was instrumental in forging the path that led us to where we are today. His legacy and contributions will forever remain in our hearts.
Ms Janice Evans

Celebrating Long-Term Dedication

Ms. Janice Evans

Children’s Place honored Ms. Janice Evans at our annual “Building Bridges” celebration for her 20 years as a CPA foster parent. Her dedication to nurturing and supporting foster children exemplifies the transformative power of love and stability in a child’s life. Ms. Evans’ presence at the event inspired others to consider the vital role they can play in making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children. Ms. Evans has opened her heart and home to 16 foster children, leaving an indelible mark on their lives and embodying the mission and values of our organization.
Adoption Day celebration cake

Live Adoption Event

After a long, two-year wait, we held our first in-person adoption event in Chicago on November 18 at the Daley Center. Chief Judge of Cook County Timothy Evans, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, DCFS Guardianship Administrator Janet Ahern and others were there to celebrate this momentous occasion. The best part of the day was having long-term Children’s Place foster children, Joseph (8) and Valerie (12), adopted by their maternal aunt, Rosa.

Joseph announced loudly, “It’s over now? Yay! I get to live with you forever now!” Valerie shared a similar sentiment, “So it’s finally done? My name is Vasquez now? Wow, I’m so happy. Thank you so much!” And Rose rounded out the celebration with, “Wow, I can’t believe it’s finally over. Thank you so much! Patrick (CPA Case Manager) gets things done!”

Highlights Foster Care Award

Award-Winning Team

Cinaiya received the 1954 Project Beacon Award for Innovation in Teaching & Learning from The CAFE Group at their third annual Luminary Awards, honoring outstanding Black leaders’ innovative work and profound impact in education. As part of the prestigious award, Children’s Place also received an unrestricted $50,000 grant.

Our Foster Care and Adoption Team received the Director’s Award for the outstanding 2023 Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan from the Statewide Foster Parent Advisory Council and DCFS.

The Bright Promises Foundation recognized Cathy for her lifetime of pioneering charity work with Children’s Place Association and other Chicago agencies. The Lifetime Achievement Award acknowledges 15+ years of outstanding contributions to the child welfare profession.

Congratulations, Cathy, for this extraordinary achievement!

Carol received a Volunteer of the Year award for her volunteer work with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. She shares weekly videos aimed at cultivating a peaceful mindset among the 5,000  + staff.  Carol’s work is a beautiful example of our mission in action, playing out in the lives of our staff and building bridges with local community partners.

Highlights Leadership Changes

Leadership Changes

Dr. Algean Garner II joined Children’s Place as Director of Clinical Services. Garner, a Clinical Psychologist, is spearheading the expansion of our mental health initiatives and trauma-informed care services for the community.

Maurice Fears, Sr., our former Chief Innovations Officer who spearheaded the opening of Child Thrive last year, was promoted to Chief Operating Officer.

Jakina Dortch, a Chicago West Side native and 10+ year educator who believes that community activism and external educational programs can be used to combat the obstacles that stifle upward mobility for adolescents, joined the team as the new Child Thrive Director.

Kipp One students

The Beginning of a Partnership

Child Thrive forged an exciting new partnership with KIPP One Academy in Austin – a public charter school part of the nationally renowned Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), allowing Thrive to reach even more at-risk youth with their afterschool programs.
Jr Board paints CPA Sign

Early Learning Center gets a Fresh Look

On June 24th, members of our Junior Board, Katie Conroy and Derek Breese, along with Children’s Place staff and volunteers from Mesirow gathered to paint the entrance sign for our Early Learning Center, helping the outside reflect the warmth inside our beloved space.

Special Events

From our We Are One Chicago celebration to our second annual Pickleball FUNdraiser and much beloved, annual Adopt a Family event, our 2023 special events were a true testament to the transformative power of community, purpose and impact. Within these moments of shared enthusiasm and passion, we fostered connections, raised vital funds, and amplified our impact, fueled by the collective energy of those who believe in making a difference.

We Are ONE Chicago Celebration

We Are One Entrance to eventThe We Are ONE Chicago Celebration – Building Bridges, Connecting Communities – on June 2nd united diverse individuals in a powerful display of unity and community. This enchanting event provided a dynamic platform for sharing inspiring stories and celebrating our remarkable achievements. With exceptional speakers Cinaiya Stubbs and Jakina Dortch, and a heartfelt tribute to Ms. Janice Evans for her extraordinary 20 years as a Children’s Place foster parent, the celebration showcased the profound impact of mentorship, guidance, and support in shaping lives and inspiring greatness.

Amidst these connections, we raised $108,325.00 – a testament to the generosity and commitment of our community, reinforcing our collective dedication to fueling positive change. Together, we forged connections, laughter echoed, and inspiration flourished, reaffirming our commitment to impactful work and the boundless potential within our community.

Play With Purpose – Pickleball

Pickleball registration table sponsored by @properties

Over 150 pickleball enthusiasts participated in the Second Annual Pickleball fundraiser at Maggie Daley Park and raised $10,000 in support of Children’s Place Association.

Special thank you to @properties co-hosts Joie DeGraff, Wendi Gordon of Joie and Wendi Real Estate Group, and long-time volunteer and donor Fredi Bensdorf.

Adopt A Family

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In the spirit of community and generosity, our Annual Adopt a Family Gift Program thrived this year, embodying the proverbial “it takes a village” sentiment and then some! Thanks to the overwhelming support of our donor families, thousands of gifts were contributed, spreading joy to 143 families in need.

Adopt A Family – Family Donors

A heartfelt thank you goes out to the unwavering supporters who have been with us throughout the years, making a significant impact:

The Cahill sisters — 30 years!

10 years…

Chicago Kindness Club

Sarah Gornik

Melanie Harris

Jennifer Homan