Poverty in Chicago is at an alarmingly high level. Half of the population is living in poverty or earning a salary that is nationally classified as “low income.” Data has proven that income and socioeconomic status negatively affects the overall quality of life and ability to obtain upward mobility.

Season to Soar aims to support Chicagoans who fall into this category by providing services and programs that will foster their development and encourage them to overcome the issues that their socioeconomic status presents them with.

Poverty In Chicago

One in three (apx. 200,000) children in Chicago under the age of 18 live in poverty, according to the Census. The federal poverty line is defined as $24,008 for a family with two adults and two children. The official national poverty rate comes from the Census’ Current Population Survey, released Wednesday, while the Chicago numbers come from the ACS. Chicago’s overall poverty rate is almost 50 percent higher than the official national poverty rate, which was 4.8 percent in 2014.

Nearly half of Chicagoans are considered low- income or living in poverty. Research indicates that socioeconomic status effects on education and overall quality of life


Early experiences and environmental influences can have a lasting impact on learning.1 Socioeconomic status is an accurate predictor of an individual’s academic achievement.2 Children from low-income families enter high school with average literacy skills five years behind those of high-income students.3

Children in impoverished settings are much more likely to be absent from school throughout their educational experiences.4 Further increasing the learning gap between them and their wealthier peers. Low-income students fail to graduate at five times the rate of middle-income families and six times that of higher income youth.5

Mental and Physical Health – Lower socioeconomic status is linked to the following: Negative psychological health outcomes, while more positive psychological outcomes such as optimism, self-esteem and perceived control have been linked to higher levels of SES. Higher levels of emotional and behavioral difficulties, including social problems, delinquent behavior symptoms.6 Higher rates of depression, anxiety, attempted suicide and substance abuse.7 Higher levels of obesity and higher rates of cardiovascular disease for adults.8

Family Well-Being

Evidence indicates that socioeconomic status affects family stability, including parenting practices and developmental outcomes for children.9 Lower SES has been linked to domestic crowding, a condition that has negative consequences for adults and children, including higher psychological stress and poor health outcomes.10

All family members living in poverty are more likely to be victims of violence. Racial and ethnic minorities who are also of lower SES are at an increased risk of victimization.11


1Sheridan & McLaughlin, 2016


3Reardon, Valentino, & Shores, 2013

4Zhang, 2003

5National Center for Education Statistics, 2016

6DeCarlo Santiago, Wadsworth, & Stump, 2011; Russell, Ford, Williams, & Russell, 2016; Spencer, Kohn, & Woods, 2002

7 Newacheck, Hung, Park, Brindis, & Irwin, 2003

8 Colhoun, Hemingway, & Poulter, 1998; Kaplan & Keil, 1993; Steptoe & Marmot, 2004; Levine, 2011

9Trickett, Aber, Carlson, & Cicchetti, 1991

10Melki, Beydoun, Khogali, Tamim, & Yunis, 2004

11Pearlman, Zierler, Gjelsvik, & Verhoek-Oftedahl, 2004