Cutting Edge Programs We Support

Each year, the Chicago Public Library Foundation provides approximately $7 million in support to Chicago Public Library.

This funding helps make the Library an innovation leader, in Chicago, – in the United States, and -in the world. In 2013, Chicago Public Library was ranked #1 in the United States, and third best in the world, in a European study.  “Libraries serve as economic and social anchors in our communities, which is why it is so important to invest in these neighborhood hubs, “ Mayor Rahm Emanual says. “This report adds to the volume of research recognizing the leading global role that Chicago Public Library has taken in leveraging technology to enhance library services.”

Funding provided by the Chicago Public Library Foundation allows Chicago Public Library to pilot new, cutting edge programming, like the Internet to Go WiFi hotspot lending program, and sustain and meaningful existing programs, such as Teacher in the Library and the Summer Learning Challenge. This private funding, made possible by the Foundation’s thousands of generous donors, also helps the Library acquire new technologies and ensure that its collections remain world class.

Read more about the Library programs supported by Chicago Public Library Foundation below, and on the individual program pages that follow.


Trained computer tutors work with Library patrons individually and in small classes to help them find job resources and build their digital skills.

Early Learning

Re-designed Spaces and programming for the youngest learners ages 0 to 5, providing parents with tools and techniques to help their kids develop the love of learning.

Maker Lab

A space for creativity and fun at the Harold Washington Library Center, where adults and teens can take workshops, or create their own projects using laser cutters, 3-D printers, and the latest in design software.

One Book, One Chicago

Reading, presentations and workshops, art and cultural programming, and online engagement opportunities for adults, focused each year around a novel or non-fiction book of local interest and relevance.

Science Connections

A “hands-on, minds-on” STEM activities designed to encourage kids’ ability to think analytically, experiment, collaborate, and problem-solve.

Summer Learning Challenge

Prevents the summer slide by keeping Chicago kids ages 0 to 13 reading and learning during the summer, with Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM)-based programming, field trips, and activities.

Teacher in the Library

Certified teachers assist school-age children with their homework, individually and in small groups, during the school year.


Specially designed and equipped spaces in the Harold Washington Library Center and 11 branch libraries, where teens and pre-teens can experiment with digital tools for music, photography, and design, work on group projects, do their homework, or simply hang out.

Other Programs

Internet to Go – Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Google, this pilot project lends WiFi hotspots (which provide Internet connectivity for WiFi enabled devices), and equipment, at branch libraries in neighborhoods with the lowest levels of in-home Internet access.

Financial Literacy – Funded by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), this program helps consumers build their financial knowledge, from savings accounts and budgeting to the importance of credit scores.

Professional Development – Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, these grants help librarians build skills and create processes to become more responsive to patrons’changing needs.

Special Collections Digital Access – Grants from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation enable CPL to preserve and digitize some of the Library’s most valuable and unique collections.

Citizenship – Funded by Citi Community Development, this program works with outside partner organizations to help immigrants undertake the naturalization process.