City Year Chicago

The Challenge

City Year is a national education-focused, non-profit organization dedicated to empowering and assisting students in high-need schools to decrease dropout rates and benefit the community. They do this by deploying diverse teams of trained AmeriCorps members to high-need urban schools. The atmosphere in Chicago has been one of tension surrounding the topics of the youth, Chicago Public School funding and the election of the new president.

With a new Executive Director (ED) at the helm, and a new administration in the White House, the organization sought to successfully elevate awareness and strategically position the organization on local, regional and national levels to increase overall engagement and drive community awareness.

The Approach

An external public relations strategy was developed to help increase widespread engagement with diverse target audiences, secure valuable earned opportunities, and amplify the organization to position it for continuous growth. The comprehensive plan aligned with national efforts, but also focused on the opportunities and experiences unique to CYChi.

Campaign goals included:

  • Position City Year Chicago as the foremost organization committed to enhancing educational opportunities by securing media opportunities, increasing social engagement, and taking a proactive role in community conversations and events
  • Cultivate and foster consistent public recognition and positive awareness of City Year Chicago, its leadership, and its overall impact
  • Build an informed network of community advocates to garner new opportunities to engage and motivate key audiences
  • Connect with new and existing donors to drive additional resources and recognition to the organization

The strategy was complemented by flexible, results-driven execution. It helped demonstrate and differentiate the important work and impact of CYChi, advanced the profile, visibility and thought leadership of executive leadership, engaged audiences with two-way dialogue (online/offline) and positioned the organization among donors and important community stakeholders.

By utilizing creative storytelling, community involvement and media platforms, each strategic plan component delivered consistent messaging and relevant calls-to-action to further inspire and motivate desired audience action.


The Etched Affect

Success for the six-month campaign was measured with quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative measurement included media and social impressions. Qualitative data analysis included tone and sentiment of news coverage and social buzz. Media coverage and social buzz was 100 percent positive in tone, and precisely targeted to relevant audiences within the Chicago-area.

The Etched team secured positive news coverage with the following news and social media coverage metrics:




Throughout the duration of the campaign, City Year Chicago received outstanding coverage from the top television and print outlets in the city.

Etched was recognized for our work on City Year Chicago locally by PRSA Chicago and nationally by PR News Agency Elite Awards.