Each spring, Communities In Schools of Chicago recognizes hard-working students who don’t normally get attention for school success. These are students who have stumbled academically, struggled with school attendance or behavior, dealt with tremendous personal challenges, or even considered dropping out of school.

The Tenacity Awards are presented to students who are receiving guidance from our Student Supports Managers and have found the drive to work through challenges and improve their school performance. By working with a dedicated Student Supports Manager, they have become more responsible, accountable, and goal-focused to make huge strides in their academic and personal lives.

Since 2014, CIS of Chicago has presented 84 students with a Tenacity Award. Students receive a cash award (compiled from donations by current and former staff members), a certificate of achievement, and a personalized ceremony at their school. Past winners have purchased a laptop, a bicycle to get to and from an after-school job, and new clothing for school. As important as the cash award is the public recognition for students who dug in, stayed hopeful, and progressed on their goals.

During the pandemic, Tenacity Award celebrations moved online! Award winners received a package in the mail with a “tenacious” T-shirt, certificate, VISA gift card, and letter honoring their achievement. Our Student Supports Managers hosted ceremonies via Google Meet and invited their teachers, family, and friends to join the celebration and cheer the award winners on.


In 2020, the Tenacity Awards were presented to:

  • Cristal, Acero – Brighton Park Elementary School
  • Victorious, Baker College Prep High School
  • Maria, Lázaro Cárdenas Elementary School
  • Christian, Catalyst Circle Rock
  • Jefferey, Chávez Multicultural Academic Center
  • Tamera, CICS Ralph Ellison High School
  • Nani, CICS West Belden Elementary School
  • Kheirra, Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School
  • Dayanna, Henry Clay Elementary School
  • British, Darwin Elementary School
  • Asana, James R. Doolittle, Jr. Elementary School
  • Rocio, John F. Eberhart Elementary School
  • Jessica, Farragut Career Academy High School
  • Lizeth, Foreman College and Career Academy
  • Moses, Frank W. Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy
  • Iman, Stephen K. Hayt Elementary School
  • A’Nara, Helen M. Hefferan Elementary School
  • J’estrella, Horace Mann Elementary School
  • Alexandra, John L. Marsh Elementary School
  • Paola, Mather High School
  • Rickira, Arnold Mireles Academy
  • Ana, William P. Nixon Elementary School
  • Louis, Phoenix Military Academy
  • Destiny, Pilsen Community Academy
  • Kristian, A. Philip Randolph Elementary School
  • George, Rowe Elementary School
  • LeMarcus, Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy
  • Alexis, Jacqueline B. Vaughn Occupational High School
  • Mireya, George Washington High School
  • Amarryah, Daniel Webster Elementary School
  • Zamiyah, Oliver S. Westcott Elementary School
Tenacity Award, Macail


In 2019, Sarah Karp of WBEZ Chicago Public Radio reported on the Tenacity Awards and the story of Roselyn, our recipient at Saucedo Elementary.

In 2020, Bernie Tafoya of WBBM Newsradio interviewed Field Supervisor Paul Fagen and one of the honorees, Victorious, about what it means to win this award. “I think it was an amazing step in my life ’cause I wasn’t expecting it,” Victorious said. “I was surprised.”