Progress Doesn't Stop Here!
Instituto was established as a non-profit in 1977, beginning much how it continues today, by creating a variety of new services for the community members who were often underserved by traditional education systems. At its founding, Instituto leaders partnered with St. Mary’s Adult Alternative High School as an experiment to see if its successful adult high school model could be adapted to meet the needs of Instituto’s Spanish-speaking, immigrant community. At the same time, Instituto leaders had successfully supported the advocacy efforts to open postal service positions to more Latinos and began offering English and skill building resources to help community members enter the field and earn promising wages.
As a young non-profit, Instituto relied on the generosity of partners like Gads Hill and St. Pius Church who opened their space for the organization’s offices and classes free of charge. Soon, Instituto staff and students would embark on a 10-year fundraising effort to raise the $40,000 needed for a down payment on their own building. This goal was successfully achieved in 1989 when Instituto purchased its 2570 S. Blue Island building and spent months removing it from a motel into an education center. What began as a small, but mighty program serving 30 adult students has grown into a nationally recognized education hub reaching families across the Chicago region.
At Instituto, we believe that education is power. That the right education investments are transformative and have rippling effects that last generations. It was true at our founding and continues with Instituto’s learners today, whether it is the adult learner who joins us for basic elementary education, a father taking English courses, a young mother launching her career in nursing, or a high school student who is looking for a promising learning environment to call home, they are each tapping into their true potential that strengthens our communities.
For the last 40 years, we have appreciated your support to take bold approaches and find lasting solutions in adult education, youth education, and workforce development. While Instituto’s programs have evolved to meet the needs of our community, our spirit remains the same. Central tenants from Instituto’s founding such as a belief in all learners regardless of their current skill level, a commitment to connecting individuals to careers, and deep engagement with community partnerships continue to guide the organization’s progress.