Chicago Family Directions

Chicago Family Directions

NOTE:  In 2018, after a great seven-year run, CFD ceased formal operations.  It’s impact was such, though, that it may yet serve as a model for future efforts at tutoring and mentoring youth.


Chicago Family Directions started as a class project for Dr. Guzman’s MLD 683 – Leadership for Social Change.  “After the class I thought, ‘Well, that’s probably the last I’ll hear of it,'” said Melanie Murphy or her husband Dennis Nyhan’s project.  But soon afterward Dennis was taking steps to create a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, and Melanie began working overtime on the project herself, completing its formal marketing plan as her master thesis (see the plan Here), and becoming vice-president of an organization that, in October 2011, began delivering tutoring to homeless and disadvantaged children at the John Schoop Academy in Chicago.

In the first eight months of its existence, Chicago Family Directions  has delivered the equivalent of $48,000 of tutoring to Schoop.  More important, it has significantly increased scores—sometimes more than doubling them—for their second grade students in critical areas such Oral reading fluency, Re-tell fluency, and Word usage fluency.  Next year their second graders move on to third, and the program expands, keeping up with old students and taking in new second graders.

Chicago Family Directions’ program is now in demand at other schools, and the plan had originally been to add a second grade class at a second school next year, then more and more schools in subsequent years.  However, research shows that starting in second grade isn’t soon enough.  At its recent meeting, CFD’s Board of Directors therefore decided that adding a first grade class at Schoop was another next step before expanding its program to other schools in the coming years.  Unless more money can be raised.  (See below.)

The former CFD website has these stats on its home page:

  • 63.5% of the homeless population in Chicago are mothers and their children
  • The average age of a homeless person is nine years old
  • Homeless students are twice as likely to score lower on standardized tests
  • 36% of homeless students repeat a grade and are three times more likely to be placed in Special Education programs
  • Homeless students are four times more likely to drop out of school
  • During the 2009-2010 school year, roughly 15,000 students in the Chicago Public School (CPS) system were homeless.

Such statistics are at least the same across much of the U.S., and in some places far worse—this in the richest nation in the world.

  See advisory board member Diane Nilan’s Hear Us website ( for more on homelessness and how you can be involved.  Read more about Hear Us and homelessness on this site.

  Read “Seeds of Change” an article about the early days of Bryan House, which became Emmanuel House, and is now THE NEIGHBOR PROJECT (TNP).  Rick Guzman’s vision of the importance of home ownership began with his awareness, as a child, of homelessness.

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