The ending of this post is by far the most important, so please skip there if you like.

First, a quick recap: we are just floored by the overwhelming response to our virtual gala a couple weeks ago!! We weren’t sure what to expect in a virtual setting, but our amazing supporters blew us away and we were so pleased to see over 130 participants on the call. Thanks to all donors, ticket holders, auction winners, raffle purchases, and corporate sponsorship from Allstate, Skender, Nadex, and IG, we raised over $70,000!!

We know some of you had trouble with the Zoom link and for anyone who missed it, you can catch the full recording of the event here:

We also have two items still left from the auction, which are now available for purchase. We have a boudoir photo shoot valued at $600 now listed for only $150, as well as a web development package worth $3,500 now available for the low price of just $1,000!  Head to to check out these great items!


We are also incredibly excited to announce another fun way of supporting RBA thanks to Kendra Scott, the incredible jewelry company who has supported RBA in the past.  From 9am CST on Wednesday July 15th through 9am CST on Friday July 17th, you can use the giveback code GIVEBACK8220 and 20% of all transactions both in store and on using that code will be donated back to RBA!  The holidays will be around around the corner, and this is a great way of stocking up for both you and your loved ones – and you can also share that the gift you are giving is supporting a great cause!


Lastly, I wanted to touch on a serious topic.  Our city has been receiving national attention for the escalating violence over the past few weeks.  Nine children were shot during a two week period alone, and countless more have been injured.   As you know, Ryan Banks Academy was built in honor of, and inspired by, a former student of mine who was the 12 year old victim of gun violence.

I’m extremely saddened and frustrated to say that that was 8 years ago.  And not hundreds but thousands of Chicago children have been shot or killed during that time frame.

I am committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure that RBA becomes a boarding school as soon as possible to provide a safe environment for Chicago youth.  In case the number of thousands of youth that have been shot in Chicago in the last 8 years is not tragic enough, we also need to carefully consider the fact that in neighborhoods where these shootings take place, all children worry and all parents fear for the lives of their children.

For many adults, living through COVID was the first time in their lives when they had to truly fear for their lives, and the lives of their loved ones.  Please consider the fact that if that was the first time you felt significant anxiety or fear over your own safety, that is a blessing that is not a reality for most children in Chicago.

I could speak to this topic all day, but I’ll cut to the chase. We need your help.  Eight years ago, I decided enough was enough and that something had to change. Thanks to you and all of the amazing members of our community, RBA is open and changing lives. But we need all hands on deck to make our boarding school a reality.

If there has ever been a time for us to activate, it is NOW.  

Many of you have asked what you can do to help and the possibilities are endless:

  • Join our board
  • Volunteer (either with our students, or behind the scenes)
  • Mentor a student
  • Make a donation
  • Get your company involved
  • Connect us with other companies you know
  • Reach out to local officials on our behalf
  • Post about us on social media
  • Run a Facebook campaign on our behalf
  • …. the possibilities are endless. Have any idea of how you can help? Let us know!

We have 2,000 people who read our emails.  If everyone could take just a few minutes sometime this week to connect us to even one new person who could potentially help RBA – well, together, we can ensure that another 8 years do not go by with thousands more children impacted by violence and trauma. 

Thank you so much for all you do and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions. We appreciate you!

Val Groth
Founder & CEO
Ryan Banks Academy