Seven urban Christian schools in Chicago opened their doors for another school year this fall with an extra boost from Bright Promise Fund. Each school received nearly $10,000 to be used for tuition assistance or scholarships, ensuring that Christian education is affordable for dozens of families.
The Bright Promise Fund was formed in 2009 to develop new sources of revenue to strengthen each of the urban Christian schools. Four of the schools have historic and current ties with neighborhood Christian Reformed churches (Chicago West Side; Daystar; Roseland; and Humboldt Community).
“Urban Christian schools face unique challenges,” said director Dave Larsen, a member of Hope Christian Reformed Church (Oak Forest, Ill.). “They have a limited, often aging donor base. In most cases, parents are hard-pressed to afford tuition costs and are unable to give more of their resources in support of the school. Often these schools are older, housed in costly buildings to maintain. Our work is also a matter of justice. Urban Christian schools offer hope to families and students often trapped in poorly performing public schools. Part of our vision is to advocate for school choice through vouchers as an instrument of educational justice.”
Several members of Bright Promise Fund’s board of directors belong to a CRC; the current donor base is also largely CRC. Board member Sheryl Hammer, a member of Bethel Christian Reformed Church (Lansing, Ill.), sees three primary reasons why the work of Bright Promise Fund is so important.
“Bright Promise Fund is important to our member schools,” said Hammer. “Many of them are struggling to balance the budget, keep enrollment up, improve facilities and programs, and provide a quality, affordable Christian education for the children in their community. Bright Promise Fund helps with financial support but also provides a framework for collaborative efforts among the member schools, enabling them to share ideas and resources. Additionally, Bright Promise is important to the children in the city of Chicago and important to the city of Chicago as a whole.”
Going forward, the priority of Bright Promise Fund is to increase the amount of annual funding distributed to each school.
“Good schools make for good neighborhoods, and good Christian schools minister to their neighborhoods,” Larsen said.