Case Studies

Providing Educational Opportunities

By focusing its grant making on smaller, high-performing organizations that serve Chicago’s youth, Invest For Kids provides a level of support for its grantees that goes beyond the check. Invest For Kids’ support serves as a powerful endorsement, potentially raising the profile of its grantees
with other area funders. In addition, Invest For Kids’ annual conference creates a community of investment professionals who are passionate about giving back.

Founded in 1985 by Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan, is a nonprofit educational foundation that empowers parents to help their babies meet motor-, sensory-, and communication-development milestones. With a particular focus on early detection and early intervention for babies, the organization develops and distributes evidence-based,
parent-friendly content via its website and other accessible platforms.


Its methods: collaborates with a team of experts, including pediatric physical and occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists, to share reliable and timely information about infant development with parents. “Babies make one million neural connections every second, so our ability to make an impact during that time is huge,” says Vice President Sarah Babula. The organization works to meet parents where they are and provide verified, actionable information they can benefit from. It also ensures the information is neutral and nonjudgmental.
“Becoming a parent comes with enough anxiety on its own, so we make sure that all language we use in our content is very positive and empowering,” says Babula. As parents use new avenues to find information, has evolved its approach to now focus on building a stronger digital presence beyond its website, including a YouTube channel, social media, and online training courses. It also develops printed Milestone Guides that enable parents without digital access to use resources.

How the Satter Foundation has helped:

The Satter Foundation salutes Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan for their investment in leading-edge organizations such as The foundation is proud to be a small part of its far-reaching, impactful work and has been inspired by’s ability to organically evolve its content and be responsive to new research and relevant topics in parenting over many years.
What’s next: In 2022, will launch a full-scale mobile application for parents. Using algorithms and machine learning, the app will deliver digestible content to parents that is appropriate for the specific developmental stage of their child. “The app will allow parents to follow their child’s development in a more customized, interactive way, and will make it easier to discuss milestones with their doctor,” explains Babula. The mobile app will also enable to expand its reach and influence. “We will continue to develop new tools to help us push reliable information to parents so every baby reaches its full potential,” says Babula.


Its Impact:

In 2021, more than 42 million people from every country (with the exception of North Korea) used materials. Parents viewed more than 235,000 hours of video content, and the organization distributed more than five million brochures and 4,000 Milestone Guides. Trusted by both parents and health-care providers,’s tools have helped improve early detection of developmental delays in babies to ensure the best possible outcomes. “Every year, four million children are born at risk for sensory-motor-communication delays in the United States alone,” says Babula. “Parent outreach is critical, and we do believe that detection is happening earlier.” For example, cerebral palsy has traditionally been diagnosed at about two years of age or older. Now,’s resources support parents and providers to diagnose cerebral palsy as early as six months. “That impact has been huge,” Babula notes.