FY 2016
YTD totals




As a Civic Consulting extern, I got more than I bargained for

Julian Nicks
Senior Associate Consultant

I aspire to work on behalf of or directly for the public sector at some point in my career. So when Bain offered me the opportunity to take an externship, I knew I wanted to work with Civic Consulting Alliance.

The experience was more than I expected. I wanted to gain perspective on all the opportunities to work on behalf of my fellow citizens, from government to nonprofits to philanthropic leaders. I got that, of course--- but I also gained a suite of skills that will be directly applicable to my work at Bain and throughout my career.

My primary project has been to design a process to restructure schools with as few disruptions to the students as possible. I'm proud of the plan we put together and the potential for it to make a real impact.

Civic Consulting is a small group doing big work, and this experience has shown me that they need even more troops on the ground. It is crucial for people like me --- those in the private sector --- to lend our expertise to the issues facing our city, region, and state. I look forward to returning to Bain with a number of new skills and an invigorated passion for public-sector work.

To learn how your organization can participate in Civic Consulting Alliance's externship program, contact Ann Bruton.

Rebooting the Chicago Public Library strategic plan
Across its 80 locations, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) serves 9.9 million visitors per year --- equivalent to more than 3.5 visits by every Chicago resident. The system is a true asset to Chicago's education system, engaging residents from early childhood through senior learning. In 2013, Civic Consulting helped create a three-year strategic plan for this vital, complex institution.

In 2015, Mayor Emanuel's Second Term Priorities Committee encouraged CPL leadership to reflect on the system's progress and look for a way to align the direction of the Library with City strategy. In response, CPL engaged Civic Consulting Alliance to revisit and revise their plan.

"We are excited about the strategy re-boot and the updates that resulted from our collaboration with Civic Consulting Alliance," said CPL Commissioner Brian Bannon. "I am very pleased with the progress of the library and thankful to Civic Consulting for managing the strategic plan process from the very beginning. Chicago is so very fortunate to have Civic Consulting Alliance as a partner."

The updated plan is firmly based in the current context of libraries as centers of not only education but also connectivity and community building. Designed as a living document, the plan is heavily used internally by CPL's 1,000 staff members to prioritize activities and influence policy decisions. It is also used to guide hundreds of strategic partnerships that enable CPL to pursue their mission and increase community level impact. 

For more information on this project, please contact Mark Van Grinsven.

Graduate students tackle public policy issues in Cook County
More than 2 million people are incarcerated in the United States, costing taxpayers billions of dollars. Civic Consulting Alliance has joined forces with the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy's  new "Policy Labs" program to create a Lab that helps address this issue in Cook County.

The Lab consists of three projects with two public sector clients: the Cook County Health and Hospitals System and the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Curated by Civic Consulting, the projects help students apply their rigorous education and professional skills to real-world policy challenges while providing solutions to the organizations dealing with those challenges. The projects aim to estimate the return on investment of a street-level mental health program, identify where street-level mental health programs would have the greatest impact, and illuminate factors contributing to high incarceration rates.

"It's one thing to sit in a classroom and learn about making policies, and another thing entirely to apply them," said Harris School Dean Daniel Diermeier. "By tying them together, the Policy Labs are enhancing the preparation of our students to hit the ground running by the time they graduate."

As of mid-March, the students had completed the first of two 10-week quarters on their projects. The final quarter will wrap up in June.

For more information on this project, please contact Asheley Van Ness.

In other news...
  • Six years ago, Civic Consulting Alliance, with the support of more than a dozen pro bono partners, helped the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) launch Reinvention, the nation's first ambitious community college transformation effort. In a detailed case study, the Stanford Social Innovation Review recently highlighted the accomplishments of Reinvention.
  • Nearly three-fourths of individuals in Cook County Jail have been arrested for non-violent crimes. Many could be safely released, but remain in detention because they can't afford to post bond. On March 17th, Civic Consulting Alliance and Model Bond Court client Judge David Coar (Ret.) participated in a panel discussion about the current local and national landscape of monetary bond and pretrial detention, as well as alternative models and opportunities for reform in Cook County. The event was co-hosted by Crossroads FundPolk Bros. Foundation, and Woods Fund Chicago.

  • Building on work by Civic Consulting, Mayer Brown, and A.T. Kearney to reduce the number of individuals detained in Cook County Jail, day credit will now be awarded at sentencing for defendants under both the Sheriff's electronic monitoring program and Pretrial Services' home confinement program. This change ensures detainees do not serve more time in jail, prison, or under house arrest, than is ordered by their eventual sentence.

Questions? Comments? Interested in writing a guest article? Please email Stuart Henige with any newsletter feedback.

Civic Consulting Alliance is an affiliate of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.