Chicago Benchmarking Collaborative

The Chicago Benchmarking Collaborative, launched in 2009, is an alliance of six education and human service agencies that collectively work with more than 12,000 low-income individuals throughout some of Chicago’s most underserved neighborhoods. Christopher House is the Collaborative’s Project Manager.

The CBC is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year—and launching a how-to guide to help other nonprofits increase their mission impact through collaboration.

Increasing Mission Impact Through Collaboration: Chicago Benchmarking Collaborative Processes and Toolkit provides a how-to guide for nonprofits and other colleagues in the sector and helps inform similar collaborative work. Learn more and get a copy of the guide here.


  • Build a cross-agency and cross-sector infrastructure through which agencies collect carefully vetted data, share best practices, and track the efficacy of data-driven strategies for program improvement.
  • Utilize this infrastructure to exponentially increase member agencies’ abilities to positively impact clients.
  • Assess methods and results to create a replicable model of collaboration.

The Collaborative is dedicated to increasing the quality of services offered to low-income families. To this end, the Collaborative:

  • Sets standardized desired outcomes
  • Employs uniform, research-based assessments
  • Tracks data in a shared database
  • Discusses findings together
  • Implements data-based program improvements

This system drives meaningful and tangible change for Chicago's at-risk population.


Program Area

Early Childhood Education

Using Data to Identify the Need for Improvement

In 2011, as a result of comparing data, the agencies identified early childhood math education as an area for improvement across all organizations. On the Teaching Strategies GOLD assessment, children in 3-5 year-old classrooms scored an average of 3.3 in math across all agencies.

Using Collaboration to Define a New Best Practice

To improve math scores, the Collaborative organized a 6-month math professional development cohort for teachers from all member agencies. This cohort was designed and run by Christopher House’s Associate Director of Curriculum. Through classroom observation, analysis, discussion, and exploration of research-based methods, teachers learned to use mathematical language to promote cognitive conflict, construct knowledge, and develop creative and critical thinkers.


The average math score across all participating agencies increased to 4.12 – a 25% gain. The math cohort has become an ongoing cross-agency professional development program.