Chicago HOPES for Kids began in 2006 as an initiative of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Homeless Education Program (HEP). After realizing that the majority of homeless shelters in Chicago had little to no programming for the children living there, HOPES Executive Director (and then Manager of HEP), Patricia Rivera, started the Chicago HOPES program at two shelters. With the support of AmeriCorps VISTA members and a great group of volunteers, the Chicago HOPES program quickly expanded to 27 shelters throughout the city of Chicago. The program offered students homework help, math and reading support, cultural enrichment opportunities, and field trips. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, CPS defunded the program in 2010.
Realizing the program was far too valuable to end there, Patricia and a group of HOPES volunteers applied to become an independent, nonprofit organization. Nonprofit status was granted in November 2010 and the program started back up at two shelters in Chicago, two days per week. In January 2012, HOPES received 501 (c)(3) status as a charitable organization and became Chicago Heightening Opportunity and Potential for Educational Success, doing business as Chicago HOPES for Kids (someone already had the name Chicago HOPES)!
The original HOPES program is now offered at five shelters throughout Chicago, four days per week. Chicago HOPES for Kids now provides three different programs for the children and families living in the shelters: HOPES After School, Literacy Mentors, and Parent Programming.