Chicago Youth Storage Initiative comes to a celebratory close

On June 26, 2018 youth service providers, funders, City of Chicago officials, community stakeholders and young people gathered to celebrate the impact of the Chicago Youth Storage Initiative (CYSI).

Pierce Family Foundation was a founding partner in CYSI, along with Knight Family Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation and Tracy Baim of Windy City Times. CYSI was created to address a top need identified by youth experiencing homelessness—the storage of personal belongings. There were limited spaces in youth housing programs in Chicago, and for youth not in those programs, safely storing their belongings while they were at school or work was a significant concern.

In three years, CYSI funded the purchase of 755 storage units across 22 program sites and provided over 12,000 nights of secure storage to over 1,000 unique program participants. In addition to providing secure storage, CYSI piloted virtual storage programs and laundry at grantee sites across Chicago including schools, shelters, and youth program spaces. Learn more about CYSI’s history, impact, and next chapter in CYSI’s final report.

While Chicago Youth Storage Initiative has officially come to a close, the legacy continues with the LYTE Collective, which will house over 200 units of diverse storage at their LYTE Lounge, including secure phone charging, mail and document storage, scanning and virtual storage, daily, and long-term storage. The LYTE team has also committed to serve as a resource to organizations interested in creating their own storage sites. 

It is our hope that the work of CYSI will incite enthusiasm and action from other organizations and communities to create and fund innovative interventions to youth homelessness.

The Chicago Youth Storage steering committee. First row, from left: Jeanne Kracher of Crossroads Fund, Tracy Baim of Pride Action Tank and Windy City Times, and Heather Parish of Pierce Family Foundation. Second row, from left: CYSI Project Coordinator Megan Wickman, Marianne Philbin of Pierce Family Foundation, Lester Knight of Knight Family Foundation, Becky Knight of Knight Family Foundation, Michael Mock of MassMutual of Illinois, former CYSI Project Coordinator Lara Brooks, Mignon Stewart of Prince Charitable Trusts, and Debbie Reznick of Polk Bros. Foundation.

PFF noted in Chronicle of Philanthropy article

Pierce Family Foundation was lauded for its support of nonprofits’ technology needs in an editorial by Chantal Forster, Executive Director of Technology Association of Grantmakers, that appeared in The Chronicle of Philanthropy on January 31, 2022.

In “Grantmakers Should Stop Resisting Nonprofits’ Pleas for Increased Technology Funding,” Foster argues that both better communication within and more collaboration among foundations are necessary to give nonprofits what they need. On the former, she says program officers don’t consultant with their own IT staff to stay abreast of what is needed in this area of infrastructure. But, she notes:

Changing this dynamic is certainly possible, as a handful of innovative philanthropic efforts demonstrate. The Pierce Family Foundation, for instance, has made technology investment for grantees a priority since its founding in 2007. The foundation’s chief technologist, David Krumlauf, works directly with grantees to understand their tech needs, often starting with interviews and an inventory of current technology before helping to develop a plan and budget for upgrading their digital systems. In addition to providing grantees funding for these projects, the foundation offers training on tech tool usage and cybersecurity.