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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Project: VISION, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Project: VISION, Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 with a mission to provide youth of Chicago’s Chinatown and Bridgeport communities with tools for educational, personal, and civic development. In the fall of 2004, volunteers piloted a homework tutoring program in borrowed space at the local library and Boys and Girls Club. Since then, Project: VISION has moved on to its own space in Chinatown and has reached over 300 youths with its programs while remaining primarily volunteer-run and continuing to provide all programs free to youth. Project: VISION takes a holistic approach to youth development, with a goal of helping each youth achieve success in all areas of life by providing positive role models and positive activities. We strive to help youth build strengths, develop skills, gain confidence and positive attitudes that will help them succeed in school and beyond as future community leaders.

Target demographics: Project: VISION serves youth ages 12-21 in Chicago’s Chinatown, Bridgeport, and surrounding neighborhoods. Youths seek out our organization for many reasons and needs; some are looking for a means to connect with peers and mentors, and some seek to receive homework help, while others want to get involved in the community. Still, our community is often overlooked as underserved; in reality, many of the youths Project: VISION serve are from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds. Currently, 96% of Project: VISION youths are Chinese American, with 90% from low-income first generation immigrant families. While many families come to this country seeking better opportunities for their children, language, long work hours in service-oriented jobs, and little understanding of the American education system are all barriers to the parental involvement youth need. This leaves many youth in need of guidance, support, and encouragement, which after school programs like ours can help provide.

Programs: Since the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, Project: VISION’s programs have served 65 youths, providing services to an average of 50 youths each week in several core programs. Programs take place in a 1200 square foot facility consisting of two classrooms, one general tutoring area, library, and computer area with three student workstations. The Youth Center is open from Mondays-Thursdays from 2-7pm. The After School Homework Tutoring Program is the cornerstone of Project: VISION’s programs as education is the key to future success and eventually to building a stronger community. Tutoring is available at the Youth Center during all hours of operation and is staffed with volunteer tutors available for homework help and one-on-one tutoring. In addition to fostering academic success in terms of helping students improve grades and test scores, the program also strives to help students develop effective academic skills and build appreciation for learning that will serve them well as they move on to college and beyond. So far, in the first semester of this school year, 40 students have benefited the program, increased from serving 30 students over the entire last school year, attesting to the need for this program. The program retention rate is 85%, and on average each student receives six hours of tutoring per week (increased from an average of five hours per week last year). Upon enrolling, each student now completes an initial assessment, consisting of a set of three academic goals and objectives. After the first semester, preliminary estimates show that 70% of tutored students are meeting at least one objective under each academic goal. Furthermore, student surveys show that participants recognize the benefits of the program: 89% feel the program helps them do better in school, while 72% feel more confident at school, and 56% feel tutors help them improve their study skills. Every Project: VISION student should aim to attend college, and the College Prep program has helped many students achieve this. We continue to send 100 percent of our high school seniors to college after preparing them with programs such as ACT test prep classes, college application, essay writing, and financial aid workshops throughout the school year. The ACT prep program has been particularly successful; over the years, the program has prepared over 100 students for the exam, with over 70% achieving a 2-point or greater improvement in composite scores. Leadership opportunities and community service are fundamental to positive youth development. While many youths seek service opportunities to fulfill school requirements (Chicago Public School high school students are required to complete 40 community service hours prior to graduation), Project: VISION strives to foster a sense of social responsibility in youth that goes beyond obligation. Project: Youth Initiative is a service learning program that aims to provide meaningful service learning opportunities that help youth learn about the problems in their community, develop positive attitudes toward service, and understand the importance of volunteerism. These are the experiences that will encourage youth to stay involved and help them grow into active community members willing to give back to others. Each semester, Project: Youth Initiative provides three service opportunities to students. Last school year, 50 youths participated in community service projects, collectively earning over 500 service learning hours, and this year, 30 youth have already collectively participated in 270 service hours after one semester. Youths engaged in many projects including recycling projects, community health fairs, production of an anti-tobacco public service announcement, and a community anti-obesity campaign. These meaningful projects have helped youth build positive attitudes toward community service. For example, after participating in an anti-tobacco service project, 90% of students stated that they learned something new and that as a result of the program are encouraged to continue volunteering in the community!

Community Stories

19 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Victoria78

Board Member

Rating: 5

I originally tutored at Project: VISION while I was in school and I fell in love with the organization. The co-founder and ED Karen exudes passion and truly has a vision for the youth she serves. Although I had to move on from the position, I wanted to stay involved with the organization. Therefore, I co-founded their Associate Board and I've been involved for the 3 years since!

3

Donor

Rating: 5

After witnessing first hand the positive impact Project Vision has on the local community, it was heartbreaking to learn that the supply of volunteers did not meet the demands of the kids in need of tutors and mentors. That was the main driving force for me to help in any way I could. It goes to show that even if you are a small organization, you can still have a major impact on someone's life. I am truly inspired and amazed by Project Vision and everything it has accomplished to date.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have recently only started and found out about Project Vision and its a great place for surrounding students! I am a tutor here and the kids are motivated to get their homework done and it's great to see kids still have the drive to continue their education. The other tutors are fantastic, friendly, and knowledgeable. I'm glad to have chosen this place and it chose me to have one of the coveting positions as a tutor because working with these kids really keeps my mood up for our future.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering with Project: VISION in November 2011. The organisation is small but I think it makes a large impact to for the students in the Chicago Public School system through tutoring services, enforcing academics through enrichment programmes, and service opportunities for students. It is the greatest reward to see student's succeed in their education.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Project: VISION is a great place for students to come and receive help on homework from quality tutors all at no charge! The Chinatown and Bridgeport communities which this non-profit serves, are in dire need of after-school homework tutoring programs such as this one. Not only does Project: VISION provide tutoring help, they also provide internships, college-prep, and service learning opportunities to middle school as well as high school students. Project: VISION is dedicated not only to academic excellence, but also committed to community service and outreach. There are so many students whose lives have been greatly impacted by this organization.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

"I think Project Vision is a superb tutoring program that teaches, encourages and helps us to grow academically as a student and as a person. A great experience that I had at Project Vision is when I first came to Project Vision. Everyone welcomed me, treated me kindly and always willing to help me. In my opinion, the best thing about Project Vision is the tutoring. The tutors don't stop until they believe they have fully helped the student to understand a concept or skill." - VICTORIA, 13, 8th grade --------------- "I think Project Vision is fun. Tutors taught us that education is more important than playing. Like time can buy you gold, but gold can't buy time. I remember I took my friend Lauren to the Minute to Win It game. We may have lost but we had tons to laugh about on Monday. The best thing about Project Vision is the lively environment. When learning new things the tutors don't make it boring, but fun! Overtime the tutors become your friends." - SELINA, 13, 8th grade --------------- "The reason why Project Vision should win the 2012 Top Rated awards is because all the tutors are friendly. Also they check your homework and tell you why it is wrong. They also help you get ready for a quiz. A couple of days ago a tutors name Vicky help [me] get ready [for] a test. When I took the test I got a 90%." - DAN PING, 11, 6th grade --------------- "I think Project Vision is very helpful and sometimes fun. It's a free, nonprofit organization that helps kids like me." - TIMOTHY, 12, 7th grade

1 Vicky E.

Client Served

Rating: 5

During high school, I was a student at Project: VISION for homework tutoring and ACT prep, which help raised my score by two points. Having graduated college I am back with Project:VISION, now on the development side, working with the new generation of students in whom I see limitless potential and working as part of Project: VISION to cultivate that potential. Many students are from low-income immigrant families and Project: VISION helps bridge the cultural gap and language barrier to provide the one-on-one attention that may be missing in Chicago public schools. Through regular one-on-one tutoring and meeting with students, we have conversations about course material that encourages critical thinking and full comprehension. We work on developing the necessary academic skills that would allow students to plan ahead and hone in on individual strengths and weaknesses with regular enrichment activities to ensure the students keep up in class and have a jump-start advantage on new material. Through weekend programs and service learning projects, students have an opportunity to give back to the community and raise awareness on important social issues while developing important leadership skills. Project: VISION has a strong emphasis on excellence and quality as seen by the outstanding background of our tutors and the goals we set with each of our students. Project: VISION is a growing force in the Bridgeport/Chinatown communities of Chicago over the years I have been with this organization and is continuously expanding.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a great organization serving the Bridgeport and Chinatown area. The staff really cares about the youths that come in and they are very passionate about their work. Project Vision provides much needed programming to this area. I definitely recommend this place for students in junior high to high school.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering as a math tutor for Project Vision Chicago for several months now. It has been a great experience tutoring students on my favorite subject. The students are very diligent and that kind of positive attitude makes me want to help them the best that I can. I've notice a boost of confidence especially among the students whom I tutor on a regular basis. So all in all, I'm proud to be associated with Project Vision Chicago which is providing much needed community service to students and run by great leadership under Karen Chiu and Michelle Lee.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love this place! Nice tutors, great tutor place to just focus on homework. Just the perfect place to learn. I was having a hard time in math class, and asked a tutor, and sure enough, I got a A---- 100%!

1 Cynthia P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wonderful organization that provides free services to teenagers in the neighborhood! I decided to volunteer for Project:Vision because I believe that an organization like this is necessary and plays a positive impact on our future generation. This organization provide free tutoring services and free ACT prep classes in addition to offering free community service activities for the kids to stay active in their community!

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have a Project:VISION Board member for the last three years, and have watched excitedly as the organization has grown and expanded. As a Asian-American myself, I have a particular heart for the Asian American community in Chicago. Contrary to what many may think, there are Asian Americans who represent an underserved (and low-income) population. Project:VISION uniquely serves this demographic, providing homework help/tutoring and college test prep classes free of charge. Additionally, there is a huge focus on service learning, which is also particularly important to me. By getting its students involved in civic engagement of their community, PV's goal is to help its students grow to be well-rounded and caring citizens. If funding allows, PV would like to continue to expand to also provide ESL classes/services to help students new to America to adjust and thrive.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love being a volunteer tutor at Project Vision. The program is exceptional, every well developed, and focuses on each students needs individually. I get a great sense of satisfaction after each of my tutoring sessions and it's a privilege to be a part of Project Vision helping students.

May W.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Project Vision is a small organization that is currently serving mostly low-income youth in the Bridgeport and Chinatown area in Chicago. It fosters academic growth and leadership-building in young adults by offering free programs for after-school tutoring, service learning opportunities, college-prep exam courses and long-lasting mentors found in the staff. Being a volunteer with this organization has allowed me to give back to the community that essentially raised me and my family during our personal hardship emigrating to the United States. Education and volunteerism have thus been essential in achieving my goals and becoming successful. Project Vision has grown from it's small grassroots organization into an expanding program that is stretching at the seams. Currently, Project Vision must place youth seeking it's services on a waiting list because our resources have been limited. Another reason for increasing enrollment numbers is the retention. It was just the other day at a committee board meeting, that I learned many of the students have been long-time participants. One student was pointed out having been with Project Vision since the 6th grade and she is preparing for college. Another was a Project Vision student-turned-tutor post-college. This proves that the organization has retention and also reflects the inspiration to give back to the community. Despite of these rewarding results, it's been a challenge to stretch our dollars to meet the needs of the organization. At times Project Vision must prioritize hiring staff for planning and development over supplies and equipment for the students. However, despite the budget crises faced every board meeting, the leadership is very dedicated and determined to build the organization's funding reserves. Clocking in almost 30 hours a week every other week, the executive director coordinates much of the program- from tutoring to grant-writing, she generously does this without pay. This type of commitment has inspired me to join the general board and assist in fundraising events, marketing, and reaching out to the community to gain visibility and become involved. This organization has exceeded my expectations in terms of volunteerism. Originally interested in utilizing my free time as a part-time graduate student an hour or two a week as a tutor, I became a board member within a few months because I was inspired and believed in Project Vision's purpose. Project Vision offers valuable tools to youth who may not have otherwise have the means to afford and promotes community-building. Please support Project Vision and inspire youth to become great learners and leaders in their community and embracing them into your own.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer at Project: VISION as a tutor. Their center, located in Chinatown, offers free tutoring to 6th-12th graders as well as other service learning programs to interested students. Having grown up in the Chinatown community, I never really felt like I had to serve my neighborhood in any way. However, at Project: VISION, I was encouraged to help the youth through tutoring and mentoring. It eventually became a passion of mine. Equipping my students with the necessary tools for personal success is enriching as much as it is rewarding. Project: VISION strives to be an asset to the community by engaging the youth through not only tutoring but also civic projects; we recently filmed a video PSA with our students on tobacco use prevention for the Asian Health Coalition. Project: VISION is not just another after school tutoring center. It's a place for educational, personal, and civic development.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been on the board of Project: VISION since it started over 8 years ago. I've seen it grow tremendously over the years, and change students' lives for the better. Among the services PV offers to the Bridgeport / Chinatown area of Chicago are tutoring, mentoring, ACT-prep, pairing students with opportunities for community service, and more. The greatest testimony to this organization's full-circle impact is seeing former students who have used PV's services in the past come back to help out because they care about the future of Project: VISION.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Project Vision is run by a dedicated group of people who really inspire me! The Executive Director, one of the founders, volunteers her time to lead the organization while also working as a full-time physician. It is exciting to be involved with an organization that is still growing, and to observe the positive impacts it has on kids in the Chinatown area.

Karen62

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Project: VISION is a nonprofit organization that serves youth in Chicago's Chinatown & Bridgeport communities. I became involved as part of the original group of founders and have remained involved as a volunteer ever since, doing everything from managing the operation to programming to tutoring our students. The experience has been one of the most rewarding I have ever had! Though we are a small organization, we really do make tangible impacts on the students we serve. Seeing many of our students graduate college and some even returning to mentor younger students has been truly inspirational.

vickie2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer and also do development work for Project: VISION, and have found my experience to be very rewarding. It never ceases to amaze me how dedicated to youth each volunteer and staff member is at Project: VISION. Additionally, I can see the positive impact my work does in the community, and how it directly impacts kids. I am excited to continue to watch Project: VISION grow, and I am thankful that I have had this opportunity to grow both personally and professionally.