New Opportunities to Get Involved!

CROSO is excited to announce some new opportunities for people to get involved in the great work of supporting our CROSO Scholars! We are looking to grow our committees and we also have two openings on the CROSO Board of Directors that need to be filled. We encourage you to read through the descriptions below, share with friends and colleagues that might be interested and email us with any questions that arise.

CROSO Committees and Responsibilities:

We do not expect new committee members to possess ALL the skills/talents/experiences listed for a specific committee, but we hope that you would have at least 1-3 of those items.

Scholar Support Committee:

  • Responsibilities: It is the job of the Scholar Support Committee to create a plan that will guide communication with the current scholars, communication with our partner organization in Uganda regarding the scholars and oversee the Liaison program.
  • Frequency of Meetings: Once per month via conference call
  • Ideal skills/talents/experiences: Education, Counseling, Social Work, International Experience (preferably in developing countries), Policy Writing, etc
  • Needs to be based in Chicago? No

Marketing Committee

  • Responsibilities: The Marketing Committee develops and implements a marketing plan that will help promote CROSO’s mission. Current marketing tools include social media (Facebook and Instagram), annual report, annual newsletter, monthly e-blasts and videos.
  • Frequency of Meetings: 1-2 times per quarter via conference call
  • Ideal skills/talents/experiences: Marketing, Strategy Development, Branding, Social Media, Video Creation, etc.
  • Needs to be based in Chicago? No

Fund Development Committee

  • Responsibilities: It is the job of the fund development committee to create a plan that will guide the organization in seeking out and securing funding from an array of outside sources. The committee works with the E.D. to identify grant opportunities, potential donors and best practices for stewardship of current donors. 
  • Frequency of Meetings: Quarterly via conference call
  • Ideal skills/talents/experiences: Grant Writing, Donor Cultivation, Prospect Research, Stewardship, Relationship Management/Development, Networking Skills, Fundraising, Peer-to-Peer Fundraising, Law, etc.
  • Needs to be based in Chicago? No

Annual Benefit Committee: 

  • Responsibilities: The Annual Benefit Committee plans, organizes and executes CROSO’s largest fundraising event each year. The committee must arrange all the details with the venue, catering, entertainment (if applicable). Members are also responsible for soliciting sponsors, silent auction/raffle items and collaborate with the E.D. regarding advertising and marketing.
  • Frequency of Meetings: Once per month from March-July. More frequently meeting between August and the event which is at the beginning of October.
  • Ideal skills/talents/experiences: Event Planning, Corporate Sponsorship Solicitation, Auction Solicitation, Connections within the Chicago Arts/Sports Scenes, Willingness to Ask, Organized, Detail-oriented, etc.
  • Needs to be based in the Chicago area? Yes.

Scholar Selection Committee:

  • Responsibilities: The Scholar Selection Committee is responsible for reading, reviewing and evaluating all applications received by CROSO each year. With support from the E.D., committee members will ask clarification questions, rate applicants, discuss the applications as a group and then recommend to the CROSO Board of Directors the candidates that they believe are most prepared, show the best potential and are most likely to utilize the CROSO Scholarship well.
  • Frequency of Meetings: Meets via conference call/in person 3 or 4 times between May and July.
  • Ideal skills/talents/experiences: Educator, Social Worker, International Experience (preferably in developing countries), Willingness to Learn, Belief in the Potential for each Applicant, Attention to Detail, Critical Thinking, etc.
  • Needs to be based in Chicago? No, although there will be at least one in-person meeting for those who live in the Chicago-area.

Finance Committee:

  • Responsibilities: The finance committee is charged with overseeing the budget, financial controls, investments and grants. It is the responsibility of this committee to provide quarterly financial updates to the board and provide information necessary for the annual report.
  • Frequency of Meetings: Meets via conference call/in person 3 or 4 times between May and July.
  • Ideal skills/talents/experiences: Finance, Accounting, Investment Banking, Budget Analysis, Creating Projections, Financial Modeling, Attention to Detail, Experience in Organizational Scaling, Experience with Pivot Tables, Experience with QuickBooks, etc.
  • Needs to be based in Chicago? No

To Apply for a Committee Position:

Please email Molly MacCready (Molly@CROSO.org) with a brief explanation of which committee you are interested in, what skills, talents and experiences you would bring to that committee and why you’re interested in getting more involved in CROSO. Molly will follow up by email or phone.

 

CROSO Board of Directors Openings and Expectations:

CROSO has two openings for new board members. CROSO’s Board of Directors commit to 3 year terms, with the opportunity to renew based on a mutual decision between the board member and the Executive Committee. The CROSO Board meets quarterly as a full-board and also meets at varying intervals as committees. (See above for committee meeting schedule.)

Expectations for All CROSO Board of Directors:

  1. Be present (either in person or via phone) for all 4 annual board meetings.
    1. We understand that emergencies happen and important family functions (weddings, etc) get scheduled without checking everyone’s calendars.
    2. However, if more than one meeting is missed in a calendar year, that board member will talk with the board chair and the executive director about being removed from the board for the following year.
  2. Actively participate on at least one committee.
    1. Participate in at least 75% of those meetings either in person or via phone.
    2. If the board member cannot be present for the committee meeting, a conversation with the chair of that committee will need to be scheduled for it to count as participation.
  3. Act as an ambassador for CROSO in the community.
    1. Share with others that you are involved in this work. (This can include friends, family, colleagues, announcements to your alumni chapters, etc.)
    2. When opportunities arise, help network on behalf of CROSO.
  4. Contribute new names to our email and mailing lists.
  5. Fill at least one table at the annual benefit.
    1. This obligation can be met through the board member purchasing the table and inviting guests for free or getting nine individuals to purchase their own seats at your table.
    2. If it is not possible for the board member to fill a table, then he/she must be a member of the annual benefit event committee.

To Apply for a Board of Directors Position:

Step One: Please complete this brief CROSO Board of Directors Interest Form.

Step Two: Molly will follow up by email within one week to schedule a 20-30 minute phone conversation.

Step Three: If it seems like a good fit from both sides, candidates will have a phone call with a member of the Executive Committee.

Step Four: The CROSO Board of Directors will vote on potential new board members and Molly will notify you via email.

5 CROSO Highlights of 2016

2016 has been a big year for our CROSO Scholars and for our CROSO community in the U.S. Here are some of our top highlights:

5. CROSO donors are getting involved in new ways!

With a new cohort of CROSO advocates established in Cincinnati, CROSO will be having its first event outside of the Chicago region in the new year! We’re excited about the potential this can have to expand our donor base in a completely new area!

In addition to expanding geographically, we’re also expanding our reach within Chicago by encouraging existing donors to reach out to their networks. We ended the year with a CrowdRise campaign started by two Chicago-area donors to support one specific Scholar, Stella. This is a great way to help CROSO reach out to new networks of people. Please send Molly a message if you’d like to learn more about hosting your own CrowdRise campaign to support a Scholar!

4. CROSO Visit to Uganda!

Staff member, Molly MacCready, and Board member, Sally Ryan, visited Uganda in June of this year. Their visit was filled with gathering information, maintaining (and building) relationships, and continued opportunities for us to learn better ways to support our Scholars. Returning with videos, photos and so many stories, Sally and Molly have helped donors and board members feel more connected to our Scholars in Uganda. Sally wrote a beautiful blog about how the experience changed and challenged her.

3. CROSO Scholars are spreading out around Uganda!

In 2016, our CROSO Scholars were enrolled in 12 different universities! Each of our new Scholars in 2016 chose different institutions than their fellow Scholars. As CROSO’s scholarship program continues to grow, our scholars are pursuing more diverse academic studies and seeking out the best institutions in the country. To read more about each of our Scholars, click here.

2. CROSO hired our first employee this year!

In January, 2016, Molly MacCready was hired as a Part-time Executive Director. In this first year of having an employee, CROSO has created better structures internally and externally that allow us to operate more smoothly. Internally, our committees are more functional and we’ve been able to put better procedures in place for moving issues forward. Externally, we’ve identified policies for addressing Scholar issues, have been more consistent with our monthly communication with Scholars and have made progress on engaging our donors more effectively. We are so grateful for your support as we continue to grow!

1. CROSO is building a strong graduate community!

In 2016, two CROSO Scholars graduated and another two completed their studies with graduation ceremonies planned for 2017! As our graduate numbers increase, we’re seeing a beautifully diverse community of professionals growing in Uganda. We currently have graduates employed as a vice-principal of a high school, branch manager for a micro-credit bank, electrical engineer for a solar panel company, social worker and program officer at C.R.O., and public health educator, to name a few. This group is now able to help network for our younger Scholars as they seek internships and employment. We are so proud to see our graduates finding stability for themselves.

 

 

Looking ahead to 2017

The end of 2017 will mark CROSO’s TENTH anniversary as an organization and we are excited to find ways of celebrating that with all of you! Keep an eye on our Facebook page and our monthly emails to learn more!

A Thanksgiving Reflection

Today’s blog post is written by Elsa VanHove, one of CROSO’s Board Members.

Around this time each year, I – like many people – try to step back and reflect on the things I am thankful for. Especially this year, as our country reconciles with a divisive presidential election and as I face uncertainties in my own life, I recognize the need more than ever to reflect on blessings and focus forward.

One thing I am hugely thankful for is my civic life. The relationships I have developed with CROSO volunteers have become an unexpected place to find support and belonging. The larger CROSO community continues to grow as well, and as I think back to September’s annual benefit dinner, I am so taken by the open hearts and generous spirits of our attendees and donors. It is amazing to think about the impact this group of people has on our Scholars, many of whom have felt disenfranchised in their own communities. CROSO is one source of strength for our Scholars, and that reminds us of the value in continuing this project.

I am also thankful for my own education. My university experience allowed me to travel abroad and learn of the larger world and the ways in which people are similar. CROSO allows us to share the gift of higher education with our Scholars who also place the same value on learning and self-development, though they may not have access to the same financial resources many of us did.

Education does not end with school, however, and through interaction with our Scholars I have learned about new cultures, challenges, and opportunities. I have found common ground with Scholars who also hope to travel the world someday, who want to use their education to build successful businesses, and who love reading novels, playing sports and even volunteering in their hometowns. Our Scholars lead by example, and they set the pace with their perseverance, creativity, and determination to improve not only their own lives but the lives of those in their communities.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in CROSO this year through time, money, prayers, and all the myriad of other ways. This work provides purpose both to the Scholars it helps fund and to the people who support the organization. As you reflect on your year, I hope that CROSO – and the other organizations you support – can also be counted among the things for which you are thankful.

9th Annual CROSO Benefit!

Join us on September 22nd for our 9th Annual CROSO Benefit!

This is a chance to celebrate the many achievements of our CROSO Scholars in Uganda and of our organization based in the Chicago-area. Over the past nine years, we have directly supported over 30 former street children as they have attended post-secondary institutions in Uganda! We have seen 14 of our Scholars graduate and are now getting to see the fruits of their labor as they find employment. It’s incredible to think that as a result of our scholarship program, there is a growing group of professionals who are leading their communities and are able to approach their jobs from the rare perspective of having lived on the streets as children.

As an organization, we are also proud to share our work here in the Chicago-area. This year, for the first time, we have a paid employee working part-time for CROSO! Having a dedicated staff member has allowed us to be organized, to communicate with our Scholars and partner organization more regularly and to share more stories with all of you, our donors!

We hope you will join us on the 22nd to hear stories, see photos, participate in our raffle, silent auction and paddle raise, and enjoy dinner with an amazing community of people who are supporting CROSO Scholars from afar.

Tickets must be purchased by Friday, September 16th! You can reserve them online and either pay online or pay by check. Purchase your tickets today: http://www.croso.org/events/9th-annual-croso-benefit-event/

Details:
Thursday, September 22, 2016
6:00 – 9:30pm

Monastero’s Ristorante
3935 W. Devon, Chicago

Tickets:
Ticket Price: $75
Host a Table of Ten: $700

Ticket price includes: hors d’oeurves, salad, dinner, dessert and coffee/tea.
Cash bar available.

Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Please book your tickets by September 16th.

If you have any questions about this event, please contact Molly at Molly@CROSO.org.

An Unexpected Gift

photoToday’s blog post is written by Christine Ng, one of CROSO’s newest committee members. Christine shares her experience of participating on CROSO’s Scholar Selection Committee.

Two months ago, I received a wonderful, most unexpected gift, wrapped in the form of an email. My dear friend Sally Ryan, a CROSO board member, invited me to join the scholar selection committee. The timing was perfect; I had closed the chapter on another school year and was looking forward to the possibilities of summer. With a simple “yes,” I unknowingly began a four-week journey of renewal.

I’m a teacher. I’ve been teaching for almost 25 years and I simply love my work. It’s more than my job, it’s my vocation. And yet, two months ago, I felt quite ready for summer. I had mismanaged the work/life balance during the last months of school. Tired to the bone aptly described my state of being.

Shortly after I said goodbye to my students, I sat down at my dining room table with a thick stack of CROSO scholarship applications. The quietness of my home at this early morning hour allowed for total immersion in each applicant’s story. I began to read the first application and was immediately moved by the young man’s narrative – the unfathomable hardship, injustice, and struggle, and yet the palpable faith, perseverance, and hope. The next application, submitted by a young woman,  painted a similar picture of steadfast determination despite lacking basic needs like food, shelter, and family. After reading the second story, I put the stack of applications away for the day and sat stunned as I reflected on these two students’ lives.

For the next two weeks, I started each morning by reading through one or two applications. Each voice stirred something in me. I spread the reading out, focusing on one or perhaps two young men or women each day to honor each story, to keep each person clearly defined in my head and in my heart. Tears welled up in my eyes. I could hear myself sighing for their struggles.

Civil war. Famine. Parents who died from AIDS. Children abandoned by parents. Picking food from the garbage. Sweeping floors to collect grains of rice to eat or to sell. Begging on the streets. Nowhere to sleep.

Yet the students also wrote about how their life experiences motivated them to pursue education at a university, college, or technical institution to change the situation for themselves and most especially for others in their communities. A vision and an optimism for a better future ran throughout each narrative. It was very hard to select my top five scholarship candidates, as I’d been assigned to do. Every single applicant gave evidence of courage and strength of character, demonstrated dedication to his or her community through volunteer work, and expressed a strong desire to continue education in order to give back to the community.

From the beginning of this process, these stories were gifts of hope that refreshed my tired spirit until it was overflowing with a new optimism and a resolve to do more. My simple “yes” allowed me to absorb these precious stories of restoration that, in turn, brought renewal to my soul.