Working In The Schools - WITS

Working In The Schools - WITS


Today's will feature Working In The Schools - WITS. WITS is on a mission to make every student in Chicago literate by building critical literacy skills and developing positive self-identity. WITS’ programs provide demonstrable literacy mentorship to students as they progress along their educational journey. Help make a difference or learn more about WITS' impact on the community by visiting their website:
The Working In The Schools - WITS Early Childhood Summer Program (ECSP) is an online literacy program that supports young learners as they enter elementary school. To keep children engaged, the program includes singalongs, dancing, puppets, real-life animal visitors, animation, and interactive call-response dialogue that invites young viewers to participate.

Students practice emergent literacy skills such as letter name and sound recognition, book and print awareness, and early writing skills.

Sign up before July 9 for a chance to receive ten brand new books from the ECSP program! Find out more:
Check out CPL's First Chapter Friday tomorrow. Author and actress Karyn Parsons will be reading from her middle grade book How High the Moon. If she looks familiar, she is in fact Hilary Banks from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but she has since created Sweet Blackberry, a line of animated films that bring stories of unsung African American heroes to children everywhere, and established herself as a children's book author! Click on this link to set a remind for yourself to tune in for Karyn's reading tomorrow at 4 pm CT.
Thanks to our friends at Working In The Schools - WITS for highlighting our Martin Luther King Junior Day event in their blog post, check out other cool events happening throughout the city as well!
After ending the program abruptly in March, Working In The Schools - WITS launched Empowering Readers at Home, a resource page with bilingual read-alouds, literacy activities, and a portal for WITS mentors to send messages to their partner student. Nearly 350 messages were sent to students, reflecting on their time together and encouraging them to stay positive and keep reading!
It's National Nonprofit Day and we'd like to recognize the ones we work with! It's so important that we see the goals and positive impacts nonprofits have on communities and the world. Through these companies awareness, research, and aid reach the people who need it most. Make sure to take time out of your day to research these organizations - American Cancer Society, The Posse Foundation, Live Like John, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, Working In The Schools - WITS, Boys Hope Girls Hope of Illinois, Christopher House, Alzheimer's Association, Chicago Public Library Foundation. You'll see how amazing they are!
We are all in this together. We're so happy to partner with Working In The Schools - WITS to empower children and families this summer!
Week 1 has begun!

Check out Working In The Schools - WITS's Early Childhood Summer Program for free, virtual learning resources for children and families at home. Find out more below!
Last week, we hosted the first of what will be many conversations to close the gap on Minority Representation in non-profits, Engage for Change.

We were joined by Executive Directors, sitting Board Members and non-profit organizations in an effort to connect and discuss the issues as well as work together to find solutions.

Thank you to everyone who joined us, this is just the beginning. If you missed the event, you can watch the conversation in full below!

Debra Gittler ConTextos Chicago
Jahmal Cole My Block, My Hood, My City
Sol Anderson Lift Chicago
Jamyle K. Cannon The Bloc
Reeze Dos Equis The Simple Good
Yoly Valencia Casa Central
Tonya Rice Chicago HOPES for Kids
Xavier Ramey Chicago Center for Arts & Technology Young Chicago Authors
Working In The Schools - WITS
Surge for Water
Chicago Poetry Center
Pangea Educational Development
Math Circles of Chicago
Chicago Literacy Alliance
We All Code
Starting July 13: The Working In The Schools - WITS Early Childhood Summer Program (ECSP) helps early learners build their reading skills as they enter elementary school.

With practice in letter name and sound recognition, book and print awareness, and early writing skills, this free resource, hosted on the WITS website, is available to all. Find out more and sign up for the email list:
TSG’s values of diversity and inclusivity makes us passionate for the need of empathy and representation in every community we are a part of. Because of this, we are proud to facilitate a critical conversation with nonprofits from across Chicago on the need for diversity on nonprofit boards. Join us next Thursday, 6/25 for the first Engage for Change | Minority Board Leadership Panel on June 25th to discuss the importance of closing the gap on minority board representation on nonprofit boards. We will discuss what it means to be a Board Member, hear from Executive Directors on how this impacts their mission & how you can get involved with organizations prioritizing diverse boards. Join the conversation by RSVPing at:

Agenda & Line Up:
🔍 Panel 1: Executive Directors Tell All
Panel Discussion with Chicago Founders & Executive Directors on the function of their organization and why they are seeking minority representation.

🔹Priya Shah, Founder & Executive Director of The Simple Good
🔹Jamyle Cannon, Founder & Executive Director of The Bloc
🔹Jahmal Cole, Founder & Executive Director of My Block, My Hood, My City
🔹Debra Gittler, Founder & Executive Director of ConTextos Chicago
🔹Sol Anderson, Executive Director of LIFT Chicago

🔍Panel 2: What is it like to be on a Board?Panel Discussion with POC's currently sitting on nonprofit Boards in Chicago. Moderated by of The Field Foundation of Illinois
🔸Xavier Ramey, Justice Informed, Board Member of Young Chicago Authors & Chicago Center for Arts & Technology
🔸Tyrone Jordan, Marsh & Mclennan Agency, Board Member of The Simple Good & G.E.A.R
🔸Yoly Valencia, JLL Real Estate, Board Member of Propancia Chicago and Chicago Casa Central
🔸Tonya Rice, Board Member of Chicago HOPES for Kids

🔍Non-profit Virtual Fair
Meet with Chicago non-profits from across the City virtually to learn about their work and how you can get involved on their Board. Check out our non-profit partners you can speak to after the panels!

The Simple Good
The Bloc
Surge for Water
Chicago Literacy Alliance
Working In The Schools - WITS
Pangea Educational Development
Chicago Poetry Center
ConTextos Chicago
Math Circles of Chicago
We All Code
In need of free literacy resources at home? Working In The Schools - WITS has developed activity kits for a variety of ages, and is offering weekly read-alouds on Wednesdays with Laurie, and Friday readings of a Diary of a Wimpy Kid! Check out their page and visit their website for more information:

WITS creates opportunities for every student in Chicago to be literate.

Operating as usual


Please join us on November 11th for the WITS Blackboard Affair | Mirror Ball. The Mirror Ball is an event like no other that makes dancing the night away not only look good but do good. This event provides resources to empower elementary students to discover themselves through reading while developing foundational literacy skills. Learn more at


We're officially two weeks from our next Study Hall, where we will discuss "Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora." Join us for the discussion .


On September 26 we will discuss "Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora". In this book, bestselling and award-winning authors interrogate the myths and stereotypes about the Latinx diaspora. To learn more and sign up to attend WITS Study Hall visit


The first week of Chicago Public Schools is already over! WITS staff and mentors can't wait to meet students in the classroom this fall. Visit to learn more about our programs.


We are looking to grow the WITS team. Please share these opportunities with your networks to help us build upon our already strong staff. We will collect resumes until September 5. Visit to learn more and share.


Join WITS at the White Sox vs. Brewers game this Sunday! Seats are available in sections 535-537 on a limited basis for this game. $10 from every ticket purchased from this link supports WITS literacy programs. Tailgate with us at 11am in Parking Lot B. Drinks and snacks will be provided.

Tickets are running out! Purchase your tickets now and invite your friends to join you.


These books have been featured in a myriad of must-read lists. Which books should we read next? Help us choose next year's Study Hall curriculum.


Chicago White Sox Charities and the WITS Associates Board are calling all baseball fans to the White Sox vs. Brewers game on August 13.

$10 from every ticket purchased supports WITS. Tailgate with us at 11 am in Parking Lot B, where drinks and snacks will be provided.

Purchase your tickets now and invite your friends to join you! This event will sell out.


Building at-home libraries for students is an integral part of the WITS mission, especially during the summertime when they're out of school.

Learn more about WITSummer Books and how it impacts our student population here:


600 mentors. 480 students. 20 schools. 10,000 books.

So many of these numbers are because of individuals, foundations, and corporations like you reading this right now that have made it possible for WITS to return to the classroom.

Read more about WITS' 2022 Annual Report here:


Reading for fun isn't just for fun — it helps develop foundational literacy skills, which, as we know, is an integral part of overall learning; this is why it's part of WITS' mission to help promote book ownership at home!

What's your favorite book in your ?

Photos from Working In The Schools - WITS's post 07/20/2023

If you've heard about the national "reading wars" debate or even if you haven't, no worries—we got you covered.

Read more about balanced literacy versus the science of reading in our blog post at our link in bio.


Lights, camera, Mirror Ball! 🪩

The Mirror Ball is an event like no other that makes dancing the night away not only look good but do good. Each year 500 members of the WITS community raise nearly $600,000 to fund literacy enrichment programming in Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

We can’t wait for you to join us by attending, sponsoring, or donating to The Blackboard Affair.

Learn more here:


WITS is honored to have participated in the 2023 Chicago White Sox Charities Grant Day Celebration on Saturday, June 24. As a long-term partner for over ten years, WITS could not advance our mission without your support. Thank you for the recognition and hospitality!


Through literacy-based mentorship, enabling teachers to build diverse classroom libraries, and promoting book ownership at home, WITS aims to improve statistics like these for Chicago Public Schools youth.

With just a few more weeks of summer (cue the tears), learn more about volunteering for the upcoming school year here:


Even before the pandemic, research shows that our nation’s reading scores plummeted, and remote learning didn’t help. WITS cares, so we continuously strive and fundraise for volunteer and mentorship programs throughout Chicago Public Schools to help bridge the reading gap children face.

As President of WITS’ Board of Directors and Principal of Talcott Elementary, Dr. Olimpia Bahena says in the following video: “We empower students to discover themselves through reading while developing foundational literacy schools.”

When you donate to WITS, the largest provider of literacy programming in CPS, you know exactly where and to whom your generosity is going. And as many of our math people know, numbers don’t lie — in the last three years, 63% of WITS students surpassed the national average for annual reading level growth.

Photos from Working In The Schools - WITS's post 06/28/2023

A special thank you to Citi for inviting us to speak at lunch and learn on Thursday, June 22nd. We had a great time meeting your staff and look forward to the partnership's next steps. Learn more about our partners here:


Tonight's the night! Join us at Parson's Chicken & Fish - Lincoln Park location for an evening of delicious food, raffle prizes (winners will be announced at 7 pm), and a strong sense of community who love and support WITS. What could be better?

Register at the link below in case you haven't yet — can't wait to see you there!

Photos from Working In The Schools - WITS's post 06/19/2023

Happy Juneteenth from all of us at WITS! Today we can do our best to celebrate and commemorate the emancipation of enslaved Black people and African Americans, which was made official on June 19, 1865, in Texas.

While there are many Chicago events to attend, we also have some recommended readings and resources below:


This statistic proves why we work so hard to fundraise for programs like WITSummer Books to provide new, engaging, culturally diverse books to Chicago Public School students.

Learn more about our summer programming and donate here:

Photos from Working In The Schools - WITS's post 06/15/2023

The prizes for our WITS x Parson's event a week from today are in!

You can win one of these four gifts, from leisurely activities like Cubs and White Sox tickets to a staycation at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel to expert-selected fine wines.

Register for the June 22nd, 5-8 pm event below. Raffle winners will be called at 7. See you there!


Tonight, we'll meet to discuss "Skinship" by Yoon Choi, a book of eight short stories centered on a constellation of Korean American families.

This will be our last Study Hall for the summer season, so even if you haven't read the text, we'd love to have you come, listen, and share your thoughts.

Register to join below:


We're officially ten days away from our collaboration event with Parson's Chicken & Fish - Lincoln Park!

Join us on June 22, where we'll enjoy some of the city's best fried chicken and fish around, enter the chance to win multiple prizes and come together to support WITS' mission.

Register below, and make sure to come hungry 🍗🐟🥖


Furthermore, Read to Lead states that book publisher Lee & Low reports that in the past 24 years, only 13% of children’s literature included multicultural content. Only 7% of authors were people of color. School booklists still heavily lean on classics, which almost exclusively focus on the middle-class, white, cisgender experience.

This is why at WITS we strive to include inclusive, diverse books to reflect the lives of Chicago Public Schools students.


Our WITS team has been recognized and received funding from Bank of America as a 2023 recipient. Support will go toward our continuing programming, among other initiatives.
Thank you, BofA Chicago!


Happy ! 🏳️‍🌈


We're just over two weeks away from our WITSummer Books Celebration event at the Parson's Chicken & Fish in Lincoln Park. We hope to see you on June 22!

Click the link below to register:


Not like we're counting the days or anything, but we're just a few weeks out from our favorite summer event: community, great food (we're drooling, too), and an ever-greater cause. What could be better? Register below for the WITS x Parson's partnership event on June 22:


We're officially two weeks from our next Study Hall, where we'll read Yoon Choi's "Skinship," which details short stories based on the Korean-American experience.

Learn more and sign up here:


With just two days left in May, we still have time to honor month with many children's books to read to our kids and students.

WITS Student Program Director Ellen Werner wrote a blog about literary recommendations and the importance of learning AAPI history and narratives.

Read more here:


When you add these titles to CPS students' at-home libraries, you're helping foster a love of reading outside the classroom. Just a $50 donation is used to send a student home with brand-new, culturally diverse books for the summer.

Learn more about WITS Summer Books Highlights 2023 here:


WITS Student Program Director Ellen Werner recommended this week's book pick.

This new picture book—written by Meera Sriram and illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat—celebrates the custom of applying henna for special occasions.

Who are some of your favorite AAPI authors and/or illustrators?


We know you wanted to support Chicago students and teachers WHILE treating yourself to some delicious chicken and fish — don't worry, we got you.

Learn more and register here:


With national statistics like this, WITS is committed to providing children with culturally relevant texts to promote book ownership.

Learn more about how our upcoming initiative serves CPS teachers and students with this disparity:


"As the CEO of this organization, I am committed to building at-home and classroom libraries for CPS students ... I am asking you to help put books on the shelves of our students." - Tena Latona, Chief Executive Officer of WITS

For just $50, you can send a student home with a set of brand-new, culturally diverse books for the summer and help them develop the significance and exciting experience that is book ownership.

Learn more here:


WITS is less than a month from our next Study Hall, where we'll read "Skinship" by Yoon Choi.

The short story collection features eight stories about Koreans, Korean immigrants and first-generation Koreans as they try to make their way in the new world.

Sign-up here:


Our second pick of in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is 2021's "Eyes That Kiss in the Corners" by Joanna Ho.

In this powerful and lyrical New York Times Bestseller picture book, a young girl learns to love and celebrate her appearance. An empowering tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots.

Timeline photos 05/12/2023

Welcome to our first , where we bring you educated-related Illinois and Chicago literacy information.

At WITS, we track these literacy disparities and work diligently to bring more literacy mentorship each year in Chicago Public Schools. We also provide culturally-relevant books to students to increase book ownership at home.
What do you want to learn for our next Fact Friday? 🤔


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Want your school to be the top-listed School/college in Chicago?

Click here to claim your Sponsored Listing.

Videos (show all)

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WITS is hiring for two open Program Coordinator positions! Successful applicants will activate and deliver volunteer pro...
For 30 years WITS has built relationships by putting students and adults side by side to share the joy of reading. In th...
The Blackboard Affair is back!The Blackboard Affair is WITS’ largest fundraising event with over 600 attendees annually....
Today is the final day of #Pride month. The resources and titles in "Representation Matters: Finding Pride in the Pages"...
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And our next Study Hall Books are..."Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning" by Cathy Park Hong"In the Dream House"...
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It seems like only yesterday we were reflecting on our favorite books of 2020, and now another year has passed! We are e...
*TODAY* is the last day for Study Groups to submit their WITS Rochelle Lee Teacher Award application. https://witschicag...




641 W Lake Street
Chicago, IL

Opening Hours

Monday 8:30am - 4:30pm
Tuesday 8:30am - 4:30pm
Wednesday 8:30am - 4:30pm
Thursday 8:30am - 4:30pm
Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm
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