Image Alt

Alternative Schools Network

  /    /  Alternative Schools Network

Alternative Schools Network (ASN) is a not-for-profit organization in Chicago working to provide quality education with a specific emphasis on inner-city children, youth and adults (website.) For more than a decade, Thinkinc. has worked closely with ASN on numerous projects and initiatives to address Chicago’s youth dropout crisis, including the strategic planning and execution of major report releases, convenings, issue forums, and action days.


Since 2000, Thinkinc. has worked on behalf of ASN to build political will to reframe the discourse on and raise the profile of high school dropouts and jobless youth. To best achieve ASN’s objectives, we successfully positioned them as a leader on public policy regarding dropouts and jobless youth. Working with ASN, we strategized the creation of the Illinois Task Force on Re-Enrolling Out of School and Jobless Youth, a first-ever statewide examination of the dropout crisis, to engage government, civic, education, and business leaders on the issue. Thinkinc.’s initiative led to a two-year state investigation of the dropout issue by the Task Force, and now has become a permanent state Council, generated and influenced public debate and dialogue, and garnered millions of public dollars to fund programs for out-of-school and jobless youth.

As a result of Thinkinc.’s strategic positioning work, the Task Force and subsequent Council redefined the way the Illinois legislature perceives the scope of the dropout problem and the real needs of out-of-school and jobless youth, solidified ASN’s new role as a leader on both issues, and provided a model for other states to follow. Last year we worked with ASN to continue the debate on a national level that included the release of a national report and data with a program held at the national Press Club in Washington, D.C. We are working with ASN on current and future positioning efforts.

January to June 2017 — Thinkinc.’s strategic thinking kept the media’s attention on ASN’s important report about Illinois’ disconnected Black and Brown youth who were out of school and out of work. Read our in-depth case study on how Thinkinc. helped generate big viewership and nearly $250,000 in publicity value, even on a very tight deadline.

January 2016 — Thinkinc. provided strategic communications and social media consulting to generate coverage for a January 25, 2016 public hearing about the crisis of unemployment for Chicago’s Black and Hispanic teens and young adults, with a panel of public officials hearing from advocates and former out-of-school high-school students, with a discussion of possible solutions. As part of our work Thinkinc. developed a strategic partnership between ASN and the University of Illinois at Chicago Great Cities Institute to produce the report. Extensive news coverage including editorials in the New York Times an significant local coverage in the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, WBEZ Radio and numerous other traditional and social media outlets led to Commissioner Bridget Gainer calling for a county hearing on youth joblessness.

Thinkinc. worked with ASN and the coalition of groups it assembled to work on youth joblessness for the March 2016 Public hearing. Working with Commissioner Grainer’s Office we generated significant coverage of the Cook County Board committee hearing on a new report comparing the plight of Black and Hispanic youths in Chicago, to those nationwide, in Cook County, in Illinois and in three other major metropolitan regions. “A Lost Generation: The Disappearance of Teens and Young Adults from the Job Market in Cook County” was also prepared by the Great Cities Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago.

2017 Media Kit: News Release

2016 Media Kit: News Release

January 2015— Thinkinc. provided strategic communications to generate coverage for a new report providing a comparative analysis of youth unemployment between Chicago, Illinois and the United States that resulted in numerous traditional and on-line media placements. The report, A Frayed Connection: Joblessness among Teens in Chicago, conducted by Dr. Paul Harrington from the Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University uses recent American Community Survey and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey data and is part of an ongoing series commissioned by the Alternative Schools Network (ASN). Read more about the report.

Media Kit: Media Alert  | Fact Sheet  | Press Release

January 2014–Thinkinc. provided strategic positioning and media relations consulting services to generate coverage for the release of a new report showing continued trends in youth joblessness at a hearing, “The Power of a Job “ Youth Employment Builds the Future,” at the Chicago Urban League.  (For full details, view the program page.)

December 2013–Thinkinc. orchestrated media relations for a policy forum around youth dropout rates and truancy in Illinois.  This panel featured a range of key educational stakeholders and government officials speaking on issues around re-enrolling students, highlighting comparative trends between truancy and dropouts statewide. View the report here or download the press release.

June 2013–Thinkinc. spearheaded media relations for the 6th Annual Community Film Festival – a joint project between Community TV Network and ASN.  Participating students produced award winning videos on hard-hitting issues such as food justice, youth violence and human trafficking.

January 2013–Thinkinc. assisted in organizing a hearing hosted by the Chicago Urban League in partnership with ASN and the Illinois Council on Re-Enrolling Students Who Dropped Out of School to release a report on the depression in the teen labor market in Illinois. (For full details, view the program page.)

December 2012-January 2013–In December, Thinkinc. organized a policy forum convening governmental officials and educational leaders to promote the release of an ASN report on unemployment among high school dropouts in Chicago. (For full details, view the program page.)

January 2012–Thinkinc. convened a Youth Hearing at the Chicago Urban League for the release of a series of scholarly reports commissioned by ASN analyzing economic hardship among youth and adult teen workers in Chicago providing an opportunity for more than 300 attendees and elected officials to hear first-hand testimony from teens. (The Youth Hearing was co-sponsored by the Chicago Urban League, the Illinois Council on Re-Enrolling Students Who Dropped Out of School, Youth Connection Charter School Youth Pride Services, Community Partners and Development, Alternatives Inc., Prologue Inc., Familia Latina Unida/Sin Fronteras, The Southwest Youth Collaborative and Howard Area Leadership Academy.)

July 2012




Policy Forum with Alternative Schools Network and Chicago Urban League at the Union League Club, Chicago, IL (December 10, 2012):