HOPES History

Chicago HOPES for Kids began in 2006 as an initiative of Chicago Public Schools Homeless Education Program (HEP) when Patricia Rivera, HEP manager, realized that the majority of homeless shelters in Chicago had little or no academic support for the children living there. As a result, a program, then called “Chicago HOPES” was created with the support of AmeriCorps VISTA members and a great group of volunteers. The program offered students homework help, math and reading support, cultural enrichment opportunities, and field trips. The Chicago HOPES program quickly expanded to 27 shelters throughout Chicago. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, Chicago Public Schools defunded the program in 2010.

Realizing the program was far too valuable to end there, Patricia and a group of HOPES volunteers applied to become an independent nonprofit organization. Nonprofit status was granted in late 2010, and the program started back up at two shelters in Chicago, two days per week. In early 2012, HOPES received 501(c)(3) status as a charitable organization and became Chicago HOPES for Kids with Patricia as the Executive Director.

Currently, our programs are offered in six shelters throughout Chicago, four days per week. With the support of over 150 vetted volunteers we are able to directly impact over 100 students every day that our programs are in session.



  • Expanded our programs from two to ten shelters in 8 years. 

  • Increased the number of children we reach every semester from 30 to over 150.

  • Increased parent and family engagement through the parent program, field trips, and family game nights.

  •  Started our summer program at four shelters in 2016 which has grown each year, and has demonstrated positive outcomes on reversing "summer slide". 

  • Received a three year grant from the Corporation for National and Public Service that gave us five incredible AmeriCorps VISTA members to work with us.