20 Years of Possible.
3.20.2001 Using classrooms at The Moody Church, By The Hand began with 16 children from Cabrini-Green. Ms. Shanta, the first staff member, agreed to work without pay until donations were received. Donnita began sharing her God-given vision to serve 1,000 children by 2012, and continues as a full-time volunteer.
“It was the
9.11.2001 By The Hand opened its new location in the heart of Cabrini-Green. Kids from every part of Cabrini-Green and Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes—including those from rival gang territories—learned that they are all created in God’s image and should love and respect each other.
Dec 2001 Each student received a $25 gift card for Christmas. This became Christmas-in-the-City, when By The Hand takes all the children to State Street for shopping, sight-seeing and a meal.
By The Hand expanded to 32 students at its new location in Cabrini-Green.
“Basically, the same services By The Hand gave me, I’m now providing to families”
2.1.2003 By The Hand asks CHA for a lease, and God answers. Having outgrown 419 W. Oak St., By The Hand asked to lease The Lower North Center across the street. When negotiations stalled, God encouraged Donnita through prayer that a man would talk to her about Lower North in two days. Two days later, a Moody Bible Institute staff member encouraged Donnita to pursue the lease.
6.1.2003 By The Hand launched Club For Big Kids, a high school program currently called NXT.
“Jesus is the one who will make the next 20 years possible.”
God provided a new location just in time. For only $100 a month, the Chicago Housing Authority leased the Lower North Center 24,000-square-foot building in Cabrini-Green. One week later, pipes burst at the old building, which was demolished just months later. God was looking out for By The Hand.
“I wanted to work with By The Hand to give back, to love on the kids, and to influence the next generation.”
First annual field trip to Six Flags Great America rewarded students who made all ABCs. Scheduled in June, the Six Flags Great America field trip became an annual event to incentivize kids to earn all ABCs.
Love never fails
2005 College Scholarship Fund is started by a generous donor to provide $1,500 each semester to college students who maintain a 2.5 or greater GPA.
2.38 Average GPA
7.1.2005 By The Hand became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and formed a board of directors.
Travis became the club’s first student to enroll in college. He joined By The Hand in 2003.
By The Hand opens a second location to serve kids from Altgeld-Murray. By The Hand leased an empty police station in Altgeld-Murray from Chicago Housing Authority.
Tommy Nelson, a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing, publishes The Boy of Color. Written by Sherrie Nelson and illustrated by Joquese Cantrell, students at By The Hand, it is a beautiful book about prayer, beauty in diversity and the meaning of life.
4.27.2006 By The Hand has its First Annual Spring Benefit, held at the Harold Washington Library.
“I don’t think I would even have a relationship with God if it weren’t for By The Hand. They knew what stories to tell, what Scriptures to teach, that would really make sense to kids. It stuck.”
9.4.2007 By The Hand
opened its third location
in Austin with 132 kids.
9.26.2007 By The Hand purchased an ideal location in Altgeld-Murray. By The Hand learned that an 8,000-square-foot Presbyterian Church on an acre of land—one of the few privately owned properties in the CHA—was about to be listed on the market. After its purchase, By The Hand began renovations in October 2007.
Cresean, Joined Altgeld-Murray in the second grade.
Cresean, Currently a junior at Clark Atlanta University.
“I just want to come back and GIVE what I’ve been given. It’s only right.”
CHA extended By The Hand’s five-year lease on Lower North Center by 25 years, resolving a long-term facility need in Cabrini-Green. Alderman Walter Burnett was instrumental in negotiating the long lease, asking CHA to “make a lasting place in Cabrini-Green for By The Hand.”
7.1.2008 By The Hand added a reading specialist to help children in fourth grade and up who couldn’t read; kids advanced on average two grade levels in reading during the 2008-2009 academic year.
9.1.2008 By The Hand opened its fourth location in Englewood—one of Chicago’s most under-resourced neighborhoods—with 88 first- to fourth-grade students.
10.1.2008 By The Hand Club moved to its new location in Altgeld-Murray, expanding to serve 154 children in Altgeld-Murray.
After prayer and fasting, God provided By The Hand with 17 lots from seven different owners to allow us to begin construction on a 26,000-square-foot ministry center. Only God!
By The Hand added a college specialist and started emphasizing college prep at CBK, now called NXT, our high school program.
Seniors Enrolled in college or technical school
Cumulative Professions of Faith
“They truly walk with you hand in hand every step of the way.”
Madeja joined as a
fifth-grader and is now a
senior at Taylor University.
8.31.2010 By The Hand leased space at Wentworth Elementary School in Englewood, sharing space for the first time. This allowed By The Hand to expand to 132 kids in first to sixth grades in Englewood and a total of 726 children at four locations.
“With their help, I was able to get a master’s in business leadership. I bought myself a home, had a dream come true in buying my Mom a home, and I now manage a team of 50 people.”
High School Seniors Graduated
Professions of Faith
3.20.2011 By The Hand celebrated its 10-year Anniversary, publishing A Generation of Hope, a book that featured stories and portraits.
“I want people to see me and say ‘I can do that.’ I want them to feel all of my love and all of my hopes and desires and dreams for them. And then take what they see in me and carry into their own lives.”
Jan. 2012 Lend To The Lord Fund was established to assist families with crisis and compassion needs.
3.7.2012 Mayor Rahm Emanuel proclaimed June 11 By The Hand Club Literacy Day in the city of Chicago.
Professions of faith
12.1.2012 Donnita Travis was named Chicago Magazine’s Chicagoan of the Year.
4.26.2012 By The Hand launched “Reading Takes You Far.” Unveiled at our 7th Annual Spring Benefit, the literacy campaign was promoted with the help of NBA star Dwyane Wade and the city of Chicago.
12.17.2012 By The Hand broke ground in Austin during a ceremony for its new Austin center that will accommodate first- through twelfth-grade students.
By The Hand is awarded a $500,000 grant from Evan’s Life Foundation in honor of a beloved son. Every June, during Evan’s Life Month, our children complete a service project in Austin with Greg and Pat Samata to remember Evan Samata’s legacy.
By The Hand began piloting the technology-enabled learning program, which personalizes and accelerates the pace students learned to read.
6.4.2013 By The Hand has an opening ceremony for the Austin Learning Center, a $6 million, 26,000-square-foot center. The nationally acclaimed Marching Band of Proviso East High School led the way as dignitaries, families, friends and staff crossed over from the old By The Hand Austin building to what has been called the “gem of Austin.”
When they say
“I don’t think I would have made it this far without By The Hand’s influence. The space I was given where it was okay to be smart, do work and worship was liberating.”
1.31.2015 BTH breaks ground on a new site for Moving Everest a charter to open a K-8 school in Austin to serve 810 children. By The Hand will serve the ME children in the after-school hours.
8.4-11.2015 By The Hand has its first international missions trip, taking three students to Cali, Colombia.
Attend College or technical school
8.22.2015 By The Hand – Moving Everest Opens. Austin children, parents, friends, neighbors and public officials celebrated the opening of the $12 million By The Hand Club and Moving Everest Charter School with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“I pray to Him for anything. I don’t have to be ashamed of talking to Him anymore. God will listen to me.”
By The Hand Club hosted its first Reading Playoffs in August, sponsored by Coeur Mining, Inc.
“I plan on being The Solution for the rest of my life.”
“Miss Olivia made a big impact in my life because every time I do something bad, she talks to me about it and points me in the right direction.”
In 2017, By The Hand Club began planning for the BTH - ME middle school to take kids by the hand through eighth grade and make sure they were prepared for a high quality high school. By The Hand also started making plans to open a sixth location in North Austin.
“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked.
“Anything is possible if a person believes.”
I Am The Solution
“I don’t even know what my life would be like without having the sense of family I’ve built with the club.”
Ron Burton Training Village awarded students scholarships. Keith and Camari became our first two students to win scholarships to Ron Burton Training Village (RBTV) summer camp.
By The Hand added a Social and Emotional Learning Specialist (SEL) at the Moving Everest location to train staff on SEL practices for creating a trauma-informed culture.
By The Hand took students to Washington, D.C. in August. Our Young Entrepreneurial Leaders (YEL) visited the White House, Museum of the Bible and The Gloucester Institute.
By The Hand started CrossCity Church monthly high-energy services with hip hop music, testimonies, a gospel message and fellowship to help high school students grow in their relationship with Christ.
By The Hand launched its social justice program - with the Chicago Bears and Chicago Police Department. The eight-week program included a field trip to the Chicago Police Academy and a Collaborative Community Action Project in By The Hand Club neighborhoods.
2.1.2019 Chicago Housing Authroity completed a $6M renovation of the By The Hand - Cabrini-Green facility.
10.05.2019 By The Hand broke ground for Austin middle school facility. The 30,000-square-foot middle school addition will eventually serve and prepare 270 sixth- through eighth-grade students to enter one of Chicago’s best public high schools.
Love kept moving, and our students kept learning. By The Hand pivoted to a virtual learning platform when Chicago Public Schools closed, enabling our kids to continue learning and while many students across the nation fell behind.
By The Hand provides care for emergency needs.During the pandemic and economic shutdown, By The Hand was able to serve in extraordinary ways. Kids, families, staff, volunteers and supporters—bound together by prayer and acts of kindness— experienced God’s protection and provision.
fresh food or catered
Students gained access
Lexia Core5 students moved
three months growth
8.12.2020 By The Hand – ME middle school is completed.The completion of the first BTH school- plus-after-school facility will allow 810 students from kindergarten to eighth grade to attend Moving Everest Charter School during the day and By The Hand – ME during the after-school hours.
Aug. 2020 By The Hand high school students opened Austin Harvest. The fresh food market provides residents with access to healthy food—a needed solution after neighborhood grocery stores closed due to looting and fires during the 2020 protests.
9.1.2020 In September, By The Hand crossed the milestone of enrolling 6,000 kids over the last 20 years.