The CME Group Foundation is pleased to announce our 2021 commitment to supporting education initiatives across Chicago, including a new focus on funding kindergarten readiness programs. In this quarter’s update, we highlight many of the innovative programs and initiatives the CME Group Foundation will support this year.



A Message from Kassie Davis

After 15 years serving as the Executive Director of the CME Group Foundation, I have decided to retire. I am proud of the work that we’ve accomplished during my time at the Foundation, including supporting our grantees to gain national recognition for their work in early math education, Chicago Public Schools becoming an early leader in K-12 computer science education, the use of personalized learning to improve student outcomes, and ensuring college and career success for Black and Latinx students.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with many talented colleagues, inspiring grantees, and other collaborators, all of whom are committed to ensuring low-income students have access to a high-quality education ‒ cradle to career.

I appreciate the support of the Foundation Board members over the years and the opportunity to serve in this role. It has been such a rewarding experience professionally and personally and a real honor to work with so many of you.

And although the search for my successor has begun, I will continue to remain active in this role until the process is complete.

Thank you for your continued support.



Getting children ready for kindergarten

The first five years of a child’s life represent a critical window of opportunity for later academic and career success, yet many children do not receive the proper development opportunities to build the skills they need.

The 2019 Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS), administered annually by teachers across Illinois, uncovered alarming results. Only 35% of white children, 23% of black children, and 17% of Latinx children were considered prepared for learning in the key domains of early math, language, literacy, and social/emotional development.

The CME Group Foundation believes building these skills is critical and that there must be considerable progress made in helping to better prepare our young children for their academic careers. We are pleased to prioritize kindergarten readiness as a new focus in our early childhood education program.

Twenty-three new grants were awarded this year to programs dedicated to improving the cognitive and physical development of young children and getting them ready for one of the most important educational years of their lives. One of those grants was awarded to LEARN Charter School Network. Kristen Denison, the Chief of Advancement and External Affairs, shared with us how this funding will support their PreK program.

“LEARN is grateful to the CME Group Foundation for investing in our PreK program. Through their support, we will expand our PreK program, and provide our earliest learners with a strong academic foundation so they are kindergarten ready and on track for success in high school and beyond.”



Out-of-school time computer science programming

CME Group Foundation believes that all students need to have computer science education throughout their K-12 years in order to be well-prepared for future job opportunities. Our continued support of after-school computer programs this year will help Chicago and Illinois students gain hands-on experience with coding languages, computational thinking, engineering skills, video game and app development, robotics, and other computer science activities.

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Building more pathways to opportunity with the Obama Foundation



My Brother's Keeper youth and community leaders attend a day of service as part of the MBK Rising! national convening in 2019.

This year, the CME Group Foundation also awarded a special grant of $1,000,000 to the Obama Foundation in support of its Chicago programming. The Obama Foundation is building a global network of values-driven leaders committed to addressing some of the world’s biggest challenges. We share in President and Mrs. Obama’s belief that in order to build a diverse network of emerging leaders, it is essential to address systemic racism and gender discrimination within our communities.

We are proud to support programming that works to reduce barriers and expand opportunity for boys and young men of color from cradle to college and career. Our grant support will also help the Obama Foundation with their work towards building civic youth leaders in Chicago.

"We appreciate the CME Group Foundation’s support of the Obama Foundation's Chicago programming which will inspire, empower, and connect the next generation of leaders in our hometown." - Michael Strautmanis, Executive Vice President, Civic Engagement



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CME Group Foundation Awards Nearly $3 Million in Grants

The CME Group Foundation has awarded nearly $3 million in grants to further support kindergarten readiness and K-12 programming across Chicago and Illinois. These grants include $1,275,000 in support of kindergarten readiness programs, which will help to better equip children for later academic achievement, and $700,000 in grants to support K-12 programming with a strong focus on computer science, financial education, and personalized learning through technology.

For more information and for a complete list of CME Group Foundation grantees, check out our press release.


UIC receives award to create kindergarten readiness website

Educational researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have received a $100,000 grant from CME Group Foundation to help fund the creation of an open-access, online kindergarten readiness website for teachers and families.

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