Cortney Smith, Something Good in Englewood

November 2, 2022

Not everyone has an equal shot at the American Dream. Fortunately, there are dedicated people across Chicagoland who are committed to making sure every child and family has opportunities to achieve their goals. With your support, we can create new possibilities and help make countless dreams come true. With support from donors like you, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation invests in organizations on Chicago’s South and West sides improving the lives of children and families each and every day.


Cortney, 14, has big plans. When she finishes her education, she wants a career in business management. She also hopes to one day become a community leader so she can serve as an advocate for residents of Englewood, the neighborhood where she was raised and lives. In the meantime, her goal is to continue earning A’s and to graduate at the top of her class again. In the fall, she arrived in suburban Boston to attend an academically high-performing public high school, made possible by several scholarships.

Staff members at Something Good in Englewood have been encouraging her at every step along her journey. Throughout her childhood, Cortney attended Little Angels Learning Center, which is affiliated with Something Good in Englewood. This past summer, for the second year in a row, she served as one of the youth leaders in the nonprofit’s summer camp, where she felt honored to be in a position to have a positive influence on the young participants. “I appreciate being able to work with the kids, first of all, because I really enjoy it.  And being paid for it is really amazing to me!”

Because the nonprofit is located in her neighborhood, she is able to walk there. Cortney has witnessed how Englewood residents often struggle in their day-to-day lives. About 40 percent of residents don’t graduate high school. She wants to use her voice to stand up for vulnerable people and individuals who are often ignored. A trip to Springfield with the organization exposed her to state government and fueled her passion for advocacy.

Something Good in Englewood aims to increase socio-economic opportunities for people living in the neighborhood and surrounding areas by establishing support programs and wraparound services for residents at critical ages and stages of life that are informed by community engagement and advocacy.

“I didn’t expect to have some of the experiences I’ve had. Something Good in Englewood has done a lot for me.”

Cortney Smith

Involvement in the group’s activities has opened Cortney’s mind to her many options in life. “I’ve learned that opportunity can come when you least expect it,” she says. “I didn’t expect to have some of the experiences I’ve had. Something Good in Englewood has done a lot for me.” The future she envisions for herself is one in which she is financially self-sufficient, fluid in Spanish and an accomplished artist. “All of these experiences are telling me to put myself out there and be open so I can receive these kinds of opportunities.”