March 2019
March 13 th marked the 100 th day in office for Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi – and the completion of his office’s 100-Day Plan . Since November of last year, Civic Consulting Alliance has been working with Kaegi and his new team.

Civic Consulting Alliance began working with the Assessor’s office in August 2017. At the joint request of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle and then-Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios, Civic Consulting Alliance worked with nationally-recognized expert Josh Myers to analyze Cook County's residential property assessment system.

The Civic Consulting Alliance study found that the system is more variable and more regressive than agreed-upon industry standards, causing a wealth transfer from owners of lower-value homes to those of higher-value homes. The analysis also showed that Cook County’s over-reliance on appeals processes made the system less fair, with owners of higher-value homes more likely to appeal and receive reductions at every stage of the process than owners of lower-value homes.

Following the study’s release in February 2018, Civic Consulting Alliance supported the County in resolving several identified issues. When Kaegi was elected in November 2018, he turned to Civic Consulting Alliance to help develop a 100-Day Plan to continue reforming the system, guided by three principles: fairness, transparency and ethics.

“The initiatives in our 100-Day Plan are critical to help the Office move forward,” Kaegi said. “We want people to know that that the work of restoring fairness to this office will continue in the months and years to come.”
“The initiatives in our 100-Day Plan are critical to help the Office move forward,” Kaegi said. “We want people to know that that the work of restoring fairness to this office will continue in the months and years to come.”
The 100-Day plan is based on 6 objectives, with an emphasis on ensuring continuity of service to homeowners. The Plan includes 30 initiatives , ranging from improvements in policy and valuation to employee training and community outreach. Civic Consulting Alliance and partner RF1 Consulting worked closely with the Assessor’s team to implement the Plan, building an agile project management structure to manage all 30 initiatives. Civic Consulting Alliance has also provided tactical assistance on specific initiatives, including:

  • A sales ratio study of the 2018 Chicago Triad of the Cook assessment
  • Market research to understand the needs of Chicago’s commercial real estate market participants
  • An audit by the International Association of Assessing Officers to evaluate the Office’s performance relative to industry best practices

Moving forward, the Assessor’s Office will measure the progress of the initiatives undertaken in the 100-Day Plan. They will utilize that review to determine priorities for the months ahead, and for their strategic initiatives.
On March 5, more than 400 people from over 100 organizations came together for a Community Convening at Malcolm X College to mark West Side United’s one year anniversary.

West Side United officially launched in January 2018 as a collaborative of h ealth care institutions, residents, educators, non-profits, businesses, government agencies and faith-based institutions that work, live and congregate on Chicago’s West Side. The collaborative's goal is to make their neighborhoods stronger, healthier and more vibrant places to live. In particular, West Side United is focused on th e social determinants of health , with the ambitious goal of reducing the 16-year life expectancy gap between the Loop and the West Side by 50% by 2030. The collaborative is the largest cross-sector, anchor mission collaborative in the nation.

“This is fundamentally about teamwork, [the element] necessary to achieve greater equity on the West Side of Chicago,” Dr. Matt Davis, MD, MAPP, SVP and Chief, Community Health Transformation at Lurie Children's Hospital - one of the collaborative's partners - explained at the Convening. “Joint action across hospitals is remarkably uncommon across the U.S., but is remarkably common here in Chicago.”

Since September 2016, Civic Consulting Alliance — together with our pro bono partners A.T. Kearney, Bain & Co. , CIBC , KPMG, McKinsey & Co. , PwC, Root Inc., SG2 , and TLSG — have helped to stand up WSU, providing infrastructure and support, establishing a governing body, and amplifying the support needed to develop and launch priority initiatives.
At the Convening, stakeholders highlighted recent accomplishments across West Side United’s four focus areas: Health and Healthcare, Economic Vitality, Neighborhood and Physical Environment, and Education.

Health and Healthcare
  • Awarded a $125,000 Community Health Worker Expansion Grant and $125,000 in Mental Health Access Expansion Grants

Economic Vitality
  • Launched a Medical Assistant Pathway Program (MAPP), which creates career pathways at partner hospitals for in-demand healthcare roles
  • Invested $1.7 million in affordable housing, youth services and capacity-building for local nonprofits

Neighborhood and Physical Environment
  • Launched six initiatives addressing food insecurity

  • Provided 400 high school internship opportunities at West Side United hospitals
Attendees at the Convening
Grantees and community partners also shared personal experiences with West Side United. Daniel Vergara, a counselor at one of the Community Health Worker grantees –Esperanza Health Center - shared his experience growing up in Little Village, including his decision to become a school counselor in order to “be the adult that I needed as a child for the children that are currently living in Little Village.”

“Because of West Side United we [serve] Hammond Elementary, a school about a mile away from where I went to school, [where] I provide individual and group counseling,” Vergara said. “It’s really an honor and a pleasure to be there, because these children really need these services.”

During the Convening, West Side United leadership announced a short-term vision for West Side United, including: launching new health focus areas on hypertension and maternal child health; securing more than 3,000 new West Side hires and $100 million in new West Side procurement spending by 2021 across West Side United hospitals; and launching a voucher program for healthy foods to serve 1,000 families per month by 2021.

"This collaborative is the best thing that has come to the West Side in many, many years, and those of us that are thinking about it should realize it," said Angela Taylor, a member of the Garfield Park Community Council, during the Convening. "Our opportunity has come, we should seize the moment and get involved."
Ashna and Rachel worked with Civic Consulting Alliance as Northwestern University undergraduate fellows from January to March 2019. 
What drew you to the Civic Consulting Alliance undergraduate fellowship?

Ashna Gupta: I was excited by the opportunity to refine my consulting skills, while also being able to deliver high-value work that would make a difference in the City and learn more about Chicago through a consulting lens.

Rachel Sato: I was drawn to Civic Consulting Alliance because of its unique integration of the public and private sectors. The use of private-style consulting techniques to solve public challenges leads to effective and impactful changes, and I wanted to see those changes first-hand.

What project work were you involved in during your time at the Civic Consulting Alliance?

AG: I was involved with the firm’s work to research and document strategic options for the City in advance of the Mayoral election, focusing specifically on health and human services. The project researched the current state of health and human services in the City and identified several opportunity areas for a new administration.

RS: I was also involved with the work to research and document strategic options for the City, with a focus on post-secondary education.
What will you take away from your time at Civic Consulting Alliance?

RS: I gained a lot of valuable experience working on a team in a professional setting. I think my biggest take-away was learning specific techniques for problem-solving, such as a hypothesis-driven approach. These techniques will be valuable for my academic projects as well as future jobs.
How has your time at Civic Consulting helped you develop professionally?

AG: I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to work with senior-level staff from whom I have learned so much, and whose advice will be invaluable to me from here on out. Working at Civic Consulting Alliance also deepened my own interests in the role of the government and the provision of social services, which I hope to continue exploring both professionally and through my coursework.  

We’re proud of our several years-long partnership with Northwestern University to provide undergraduate students with a unique, semester-long fellowship opportunity. Please visit our Fellowships   page to learn more.


  • In our February newsletter we neglected to mention Accenture, who supported our work on Governor Pritzker's transition reports. Our apologies, and thank you to all of the pro bono partners who helped Illinois's new governor transition into office.
Questions? Comments? Contact Marie Akerman