Tomorrow's Promise: Vision 2020

Tomorrow's Promise: Vision 2020

Launched in November 2008, Tomorrow's Promise: Vision 2020 is a partnership among Concordia University Chicago, Fifth Third BancorpBellwood School District 88 and Proviso Township High School District 209. This public-private initiative will visibly and directly impact the lives of 22 academically talented and driven District 88 area students who lack the resources to achieve their dreams of a college education.

Simultaneously, Concordia University Chicago and its partners will collaborate with and provide additional resources to benefit District parents, District schools, and the community as these students progress through middle and high school.

Through 2020, Fifth Third Bancorp and Concordia University Chicago will provide the 22 participating students with mentoring, tutoring, school supplies/technology, employment opportunities and financial support---including full coverage of their tuition, books, fees, and room and board at Concordia University Chicago. In return, the students must maintain above-average academic and behavioral standards throughout the program.

Tomorrow's Promise: Vision 2020Tomorrow's Promise was conceived in 2007 by longtime colleagues Terry Zink, chairman and CEO of Fifth Third Bancorp, and Tom Jandris, vice president of educational innovation and dean of the College of Graduate and Innovative Programs at Concordia University Chicago. They collaborated on the program's initial concept and development, bringing together teams from both institutions to work on the program once a partner school district was selected.

What does the program entail?

As the students progress through middle school and high school, Concordia University Chicago faculty will collaborate with Bellwood School District 88 and Proviso Township High School District 209 teachers to provide ongoing instructional resources, training and best practices to support these 22 students but also enhance the level of teacher expertise and education for all students in these schools.

For all District 88 and District 209 parents, Fifth Third Bancorp officials and staff will lead regular classes on managing finances and preparing for the future through budgeting, saving for college and retirement planning, and more.

This uniquely structured program is intended as a model for public/private partnerships---among a financial institution, a private university and two specific public school districts---to make a visible, tangible and direct long-term impact in the lives of a specific group of deserving but underserved children, their families, their schools and the local community.

What is the Tomorrow's Promise vision for these students?

Our Tomorrow's Promise vision is that by 2020:

  1. The 22 Bellwood students selected to participate will graduate college with an established foundation for applying their knowledge and talents to the betterment of our community.
  2. The resources and support provided to the students, families and teachers will generate long-term benefits to themselves and Bellwood schools.
  3. Data and lessons learned from "Tomorrow's Promise" will encourage and guide additional communities in Illinois and across the country in developing similar initiatives among local businesses, universities and school districts to improve the lives of future generations.

What resources are Fifth Third and Concordia devoting to Tomorrow's Promise?

Concordia faculty and staff will:

  1. Provide best practices, tutoring and mentoring to the districts' teachers through the resources and nationally accredited programs of its College of Education and College of Graduate and Innovative Programs. Recognized as a leader in teacher education, Concordia graduates the state's largest number of public school teachers among private Illinois colleges. More than 3,000 Chicagoland teachers and administrators seeking their graduate education degrees enroll at Concordia each year.
  2. Collaborate with and provide consulting services to District 88 and District 209 related to 1) school improvement planning, 2) professional and classroom development, and 3) individualized assessment and support plans for each Tomorrow's Promise student.
  3. Engage University students as one-on-one mentors and tutors and identify summer camp and job opportunities for Tomorrow's Promise students. Through its commitment to service learning and the quality of students' community engagement, the University has twice been named to the national President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for extraordinary contributions to local and national needs.
  4. Provide early, intensive assistance to Tomorrow's Promise students and families in planning and preparing for college. This includes navigating admission and financial aid processes that can present challenges for first-generation college-bound high school seniors.

Fifth Third Bancorp will provide the students with laptops, software and volunteer mentors. The Bank's officials and staff will conduct regular classes to guide parents in managing their finances and preparing for the future through budgeting, saving for college and retirement planning and more.  

Both partners will provide financial support, including full coverage of college educations for Tomorrow's Promise students should they attend Concordia University Chicago.  As the program progresses over the next 11 years, the Bank and the University will work closely with District 88 and District 209 officials to determine and supply resources and assistance as needed, as well as monitor student progress and overall project success.

Has either Fifth Third or Concordia ever been involved in such a program before?

This is the first time Fifth Third and Concordia have undertaken such a program. It is a pilot program, and we hope it will inspire and serve as a model for similar public/private partnerships across the nation to invest in deserving students, school districts and their local communities.

Why did you choose District 88 and District 209 to benefit?

Nearly 100 area school districts were considered for participation based on location, student demographics and academic challenges. Bellwood School District 88 and Proviso Township High School District 209 were ultimately selected based not only on their needs for additional human and economic resources for underserved students, but also on their proximity to both Concordia and Fifth Third Bancorp. This proximity allows for the in-person mentoring and support to students, their families and schools that will help maximize the program's success. 

How did you choose the participating students?

Bellwood District 88 and Proviso Township District 209 selected 22 sixth-grade students to participate in Tomorrow's Promise based on a number of criteria, including ISAT scores, grade point averages, teacher recommendations, parental commitment, writing samples, standardized test scores and nonverbal ability test scores. Many of these students will be the first in their families to attend college.

Why is the program limited to only 22 students?

The program was limited to a small "class" of students so we can effectively measure the efficacy of the program, as well as provide each student with the highest possible level of personal attention and available resources.

At school, will Tomorrow's Promise students be separated from their peers?

No. Tomorrow's Promise students will attend all classes together in middle school and high school, alongside their peers not in the program. As Tomorrow's Promise students make their way through middle school and high school, Concordia faculty will work with students' teachers to implement ongoing instructional resources, training and best practices in the classroom. As a result, even students not participating in Tomorrow's Promise will benefit from the enhanced level of teacher expertise and education in Bellwood schools.

What happens when the students go to high school?

The 22 participating students are currently enrolled in Bellwood's Roosevelt Middle School, and are expected to attend Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy in 2011, based on academic qualifications. As in middle school, the students will attend all classes together but will not be separated from their peers.

What happens if the students don't attend Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy? Will they still be able to participate in Tomorrow's Promise? Are requirements the same?

All students are on track to attend Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy and will need to pass the Academy's required test for official admission. Should a student enrolled in Tomorrow's Promise not secure admission into the Academy, he or she will attend Proviso West High School. The student will remain eligible to participate in Tomorrow's Promise as long as he or she attends a District school and will be held to the same requirements as other students in the program.

What are the standards for Tomorrow's Promise students to remain in the program? If they don't meet those goals, are they given a second chance?

Students will be held to academic and behavioral standards to continue participating in the program. Students are expected to earn all As and Bs, and those who earn a C or lower will be placed on probation for a semester. During this time, students struggling to achieve the program's expectations will receive additional support and mentoring for the probation period.

If students drop out of school or don't meet program goals, will you add other students to the program?

Students who drop out or leave the program for any reason will not be replaced with other students. The goal of the program is to make a long-term investment in a specific group of students from 2008-2020. We expect the mobility rates for this group of students to be lower than the districts'averages due to the students' appetite for academic success, their commitment to participate and the additional support they will receive throughout the program.

If a student leaves District 88 or District 209, will he or she still participate in Tomorrow's Promise and receive a scholarship to Concordia University Chicago?

Tomorrow's Promise is more than a promise of a paid-in-full college education. It is a partnership among four organizations to 1) help a select group of students successfully prepare for college within these two particular school districts, and 2) support the districts as they educate these students. Because these program purposes are specific to the Bellwood and Proviso Township school districts, students who leave the program for any reason, including moving out of the district, will no longer be eligible to participate in Tomorrow's Promise.

What percentage of the students' college tuitions will be covered?

One hundred percent of the students' college tuitions will be covered if they choose to attend Concordia University Chicago. This includes all tuition, books, fees and room and board.

What is the estimated cost for providing college scholarships to these students?

The cost for each individual student will vary based on financial aid, scholarships and other assistance available at the time these students enter college. For each student, Concordia will provide discounted tuition and work with him or her to secure additional grant and scholarship aid. The remainder of each student's tuition will be covered by Fifth Third Bancorp, which will allocate a sum of money today to ensure that tuitions are paid for in the future.

We also will work with each student to assess his or her individual needs to identify other needed resources to ensure success. Should students require campus housing or assistance with books, we will work to help cover those costs.

What happens if a student goes to another college?

While all Tomorrow's Promise students will receive program support through high school graduation, continued financial and academic support through college graduation will be provided only to students who choose to attend Concordia University Chicago.

Do you plan to sponsor a class every year or launch the program in other districts?

To provide our full focus to the 22 students enrolled in the program and most effectively gauge its success before replicating elsewhere, we do not plan to launch the program every year or in other districts at this time. However, we hope Tomorrow's Promise will encourage other school districts, universities and business institutions to develop similar partnerships investing in their students and communities.

Have you considered bringing in other partners to provide additional resources?

Not at this time. Again, we hope that businesses and education institutions will embark on their own partnerships to improve the lives of future generations and reinvigorate their communities.

About Concordia University Chicago

Founded as a teachers' education college in 1864, Concordia University Chicago today is a comprehensive liberal arts and graduate university in River Forest under the leadership of President John F. Johnson.

With more than 5,000 full-time students, Concordia offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs and more than 60 areas of study through its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, and Graduate and Innovative Programs.

Concordia's involvement with Tomorrow's Promise directly serves its mission to equip men and women to serve and lead with integrity, creativity, competence and compassion in a diverse, interconnected and increasingly urbanized church and world. Hundreds of Concordia faculty, staff and students will contribute to Tomorrow's Promise through 2020.

Overseeing Concordia's involvement is Tomorrow's Promise codeveloper Thomas Jandris, Ph.D. Jandris is dean of the College of Graduate and Innovative Programs at Concordia University Chicago, where he leads several graduate programs that are among the country's largest. A Proviso Township native, Jandris is a former urban schools educator and administrator, and a longtime schools consultant and national education policy advisor.

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