A Nonprofit Helping Families Solve Their Issues in Chicago

Big cities are great places to live in but they also have major issues to deal with. As one of the biggest cities in the United States, Chicago is not the exception to this statement. Statistics show that some Chicagoans are starving, others are victims of abuse or come from a broken family. Many nonprofits work to address some of the most pressing issues from different perspectives. Yosef Meystel knows that there is one nonprofit in particular that works helping families in need throughout the Chicago area and it is called Jewish Child & Family Services (JCFS).

JCFS has been working for Chicagoans for over 160 years. It is a nonprofit organization committed to guiding families in the Chicago area that need help solving their crisis and pressing issues. All services provided by JCFS are based on Jewish values, which aim to strengthen the lives involved in local communities. Also, the organization is partner with some charitable foundations in Illinois such as the Jewish United Fund of Chicago, Rainbow Hospice and Palliative Care, and the Center for Independent Futures

Regardless your background or religion JCFS wants everyone to know that they are not alone with their struggle and anguish. They can always count on the support of the JCFS’ highly skilled staff members, which are always willing to provide community members with advice, training, and solutions to care for children, teens, older adults and their families. This way, JCFS has given its support to over 26,000 people each year, having a positive impact on its community.

JCFS as an organization counts with a strategic plan that aims to have a positive impact in Chicago within the next three years. Over 1,000 stakeholders participated in the development of this plan, including clients, staff, board, donors, volunteers, and Chicago community members.

Who Can Be Helped by JCFS?

The answer is simple: anyone! JCFS is there for all Chicagoans who need support. No matter if you are dealing with autism, a cognitive problem, or even alcoholism, JCFS is always going to be there to offer support with advanced illnesses, special training, and education, counseling for individuals or families, among other initiatives.

It is a matter of engagement and reciprocity. JCFS only asks its members to engage with the programs and volunteer helping others, this way you can contribute to the growth of the organization and guarantee there is going to be there for you in case you need it. It is all about transformational change conducted by the same members of the community that understand its needs and care about solving them.

JCFS offers a wide variety of programs based on the diversity of its members. They can offer to counsel and care for abused and neglected youth, as well as therapy for adults and children who have dealt with traumatic experiences or difficult circumstances. Also, JCFS offers support services for people with disabilities and their caregivers or families, among other services such as general counseling, special education, grief counseling and special education.

The organization’s talented staff is prepared to help children and their families regardless their religion, ethnicity, color, national origin, gender or sexual orientation. Everyone is welcomed to participate in inclusive activities and camps, support one another and engage with an organization that is always willing to help families in the Chicago area.

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Image courtesy of fivehanks at Flickr.com

Mission and Values

Jewish Child & Family Services aims to provide adults, children, and families with vital, results-driven, supportive, individualized and therapeutic services. No matter the background, each year the organizations is committed to helping individuals facing challenges with mental health, life transitions, basic human needs and any type of disability.

For this reason, the organization’s statement is to provide the necessary conditions to anyone in the community in order to make it stronger while helping it with its problems. This powerful statement is the one that impulses JCFS to become the best connection to get trusted and innovative care.

JCFS values are based on Jewish values and are oriented to care for life in a responsible way. The words Tikkun Olam refer to the idea of repairing the world and making it more perfect. This is one of the most important values for the organization, which aims to create a model society, responsible for the welfare of every human being. This means contributing to social justice, helping others heal and care for them.

The process of ensuring that the mental health needs of the community are addressed and that the organization is going to do everything that is at hand to do its best for its clients and members are also some of the core values of JCFS.   

The main mission is to always strive for excellence while supporting, protecting and nurturing families in Chicago. It is necessary to understand what families are going through in order to be able to help them. Always keeping in mind that communities are essential to living and for this reason, it is vital to keep them healthy and strengthen

 

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The heartland institute: giving new ideas and strategies to people.

It is a shame that in certain areas in the world, and within countries, the governments do not cover all, the population or all the needs people have. For example, in Colombia, there are places where the state has forgotten about the people and violent gangs and groups have taken over control of almost everything that happens in that region. It could be a drastic example, but those are some of the consequences of the state not going to all the places where they should be.

In United States the thing is not so drastic, but it does happen. The government does not reach all the community or doesn’t reach all their necessities, leaving a big gap between the people and the government. In Chicago specifically, the community has a lot of problems that are not fully addressed by the government, but they took action.

At this address 3939 North Wilke Road, Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004, and at this phone number and fax, 312/377-4000 and 312/277-4122 there is an institute called the Heartland Institute that is a national non-profit organization founded in 1984 and devoted to research and education. Their aim and mission is to “discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Such solutions include parental choice in education, market-based approaches to environmental protection, privatization of public services, and deregulation in areas where property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies”, as seen in their webpage.

This institute is giving people the tools to address problems and issues that take long for the government to solve, are very complicated and technical or have just been forgotten by the authorities. They are an “action tank” as well as a “think tank,” and they have a real impact in the world out there. There is a dynamic between the people and the government that sometimes does not allow freedom to be fully expressed and it is here where the Heartland Institute plays an essential role in the national (and increasingly in the international) movement for limited government and personal liberty. They considered themselves as the channel where freedom thinkers such as writers, artists and thinkers meet, collide, agree or disagree with the nation’s 50 state legislatures.

They have a lot of publication in order to reach the community. Some of them are listed here: The Heartland Institute publishes four national monthly newspapers covering free-market ideas in school reform, environmental protection, health care finance, and tax and budget matters; they also publish three policy newsletters, addressing the digital economy; lawsuit abuse; and public policy from a free-market multicultural perspective. They are actively present in the internet with their website www.heartland.org which includes PolicyBot that is the Internet’s largest collection of free-market public policy research

Well, some people may think why should they choose The Heartland Institute or what is it that they do that has so much influence in our lives? Well, here is the answer.  They can take their expertise, a staff of 39 and approximately 250 academics and professional economists, to the debates with a peer-review process and act as policy advisors, apart from having more than 200 elected officials serving on their own Legislative Forum. They have Twenty-five senior fellows that are allowed to publish, write, speak, or comment on many policy issues.

As for the publications, Heartland has published more than 140 peer-reviewed policy studies and scores of policy briefs, Research and commentary collections, and booklets. Surveys show 74 percent of state legislators read at least one of Heartland’s publications sometimes or always. Their Government Relations also give them an amazing advantage because they had more than 1 million contacts with elected officials in 2015, including 6,127 face-to-face contacts and they have the ability and permission to call legislators and ask if they need information, are aware of new developments in other states, and if they can send the “best available research” on issues they are coping with.

The Heartland Institute has gained credibility due to their 32 years in public policy, solid research and publications, and repeated communications with state legislators. They have become a “go-to” source for thousands of elected officials and other opinion leaders. A recent survey this same year found that 82% of the state elected officials surveyed read one or more Heartland newspapers “sometimes” or “always”; 43% consider Heartland to be a “very” or “somewhat” valuable source of information; and 45% reported a Heartland publication “influenced my opinion or led to a change in public policy.”

The Heartland Institute is helping people all over America understand and be part of public policy making. Their publication help parents, official, politicians and the community in general take more educated decisions on their delicate issues and have a direct communication with the people that represent them in the government.

Take a look at this amazing article on pet charities in the Chicago area.

Philanthropy in Chicago: Powerful History in the Making

Philanthropy can be generally defined as love for humankind. Yosef Meystel knows that philanthropy  is a critical part of a democratic society since it focuses on the elimination social problems, instead of eliminating the suffering caused by social problems- like charity does. It supports projects and activities from which we can all benefit – such as libraries, museums and scientific research. Philanthropy also cares about efforts that may be too unpopular or controversial to gain the widespread support of the general public or the government.

Project Inspire_Philanthropy in Chicago_Yosef Meystel

Image courtesy of NVIDIA Corporation at Flickr.com

If we take a look at Chicago’s past, we would see that in this city the organized donation of money to charitable causes, has historically left an enormous and lasting legacy. Through the support of numerous educational and cultural institutions of national and international renown, a network of charities that have improved the health and social welfare of metropolitan area residents has been developed over the years

Over the 150 years, philanthropy in Chicago has positively evolved, benefiting most Chicagoans. From 1850 to 1915, large donations were made by wealthy individuals who wanted to support major institutions dominated the philanthropic landscape. Later on, some charitable institutions were founded, changing the way donations were both made and received, and philanthropy changed its course. After World War I, wealthy Chicagoans began donating in perpetuity to private philanthropic foundations as a way to create a stable, permanent flow of charitable resources that would continue the donor’s philanthropic endeavor years after their death.

Community funds and federated giving programs also challenged the early tradition of direct philanthropy by wealthy donors, by allowing donors of more modest means to find different vehicles for their philanthropic efforts. Additionally, during the 1950’s and 60’s, many Chicago-based corporations, among them several of America’s largest business enterprises, launched corporate philanthropic programs.

It is important to remark that Chicago’s early philanthropic leaders were industrialists, merchants, and financiers who helped build the city – especially after the Civil War. Citizens were proud and inspired by the growing of a new city and proud donors made their donations inspired by the idea of transforming Chicago into the “Athens of the West”. In order to use their charitable gifts to project their own personal ideals to the extensive community, the city’s donors also wanted to introduce arts and culture in the working classes, offering them educational activities, both morally and culturally inspiring.

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Image courtesy of Surfing The Nations at Flickr.com

Thanks to the early philanthropic approach, major cultural and educational institutions were built. Significant donations launched the Chicago Atheneum, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Also, some educational institutions were built, including Northwestern University, in 1851 and the Armour Institute of Technology (now Illinois Institute of Technology), in 1893.

Since the city’s foundation in 1833 to the 1920s approximately $80 million had been donated to charity, with culture and education together gathering over $50 million. Health charities and hospitals raised around $10 million during the same period; childcare attracted $2 million, relief organizations drew $1.3 million, and settlements attracted around $700,000. A hundred years after the city’s foundation, several important individuals had made important gifts, such as the $8 million bequest from Marshall Field to endow the Field Museum and early gifts from Charles Hutchinson to the Art Institute. Between 1925 and the Great Depression Chicago philanthropy grew noticeably, as donations citywide totaled over $45 million.

Some of Chicago’s largest long-lasting foundations were created in the 1950s. Wealthy donors such as Robert R. McCormick – the editor of the Chicago Tribune for more than 40 years-, created a trust in 1955 that began functioning nearly 35 years later as the billion-dollar Robert R. McCormick–Tribune Foundation. However, the largest foundation in Chicago is the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which controlled over $4 billion in assets by the end of the twentieth century.

Major Chicago-based firms such as Sears, Roebuck (1941), Allstate (1952), and Amoco (1952), later in history emerged as an important part of the city’s charitable support system, establishing relevant corporate contributions programs. Many of the largest corporations have long considered their philanthropic initiatives as important aspects of marketing and public relations, instead of claiming to be entirely altruistic, unlike most other forms of institutional philanthropy.

During the 21st century, institutional giving in Chicago has grown to over $500 million. Nowadays, there are more than a thousand foundations active in the city and suburbs, supporting causes that sometimes may be unpopular or controversial. Through experimentation, change, and growth, major individual contributions in support of cultural and educational causes have branched out to a variety of forms of institutional giving, supporting hundreds of nonprofit organizations working in almost every field imaginable. Philanthropists in Chicago have never answered to the government or to the public, the have chosen the people and projects to receive their support in order to contribute to the constant improvement of the city through the course of history.

5 of the top foundations working for education in Chicago

Since the 19th century, philanthropic actions have always been present in the life of Chicago community, so they have had a critical role in the progress of the city. From helping homeless people or stray animals, to volunteering for some community center activities, Chicagoans are well known for being always involved around numerous charitable works. For this reason, there are many foundations working for different important aspects of the community of Chicago such as health, children, animals, and people with disabilities, environment, culture, education, etc.  In the past two decades, the latter aspect mentioned here has been in the agenda of many organizations around the world, and Chicago is not the exception. The work of these foundations goes from encouraging in early childhood education to supporting actions to end illiteracy in adults. Among all these foundations, there are five that will have an especial space here due to its work for the Chicago community.  

The Chicago Foundation for Education

Founded in 1985 by Joyce Rumsfeld, wife of U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, The Chicago Foundation for Education has been working for over 30 years, focusing on the basics of education; classroom materials and practical training. One of the main purposes of the CFE has been to offer help to the teachers of Chicago public schools to improve on their competences and effectiveness in the classroom. In order to do that, the foundation has created fellowships, grant making programs, and workshops to help teachers in the curriculum innovation. The given money for allowances can go from 100 to 1000 dollars, and they donate it depending on the program. The applications for the grant programs are unsolicited, a people interested can see the deadlines on the website of the foundation. In 2014, The Chicago Foundation for Education provided money for 687 grants and worked with 1,022 teachers in 344 schools. The numbers of the Chicago Foundation for Education have been consistently in the past 5 years.

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation

This foundation was founded in 1955 after the death of famous Colonel Robert R. McCormick who was a veteran editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. McCormick was one of the first philanthropists in Chicago, helping in this way on the progress of his beloved city. In his will, the Colonel McCormick stated that all his fortune would be inherited by the Illinois community. The main commitment of The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is to support the communities of educated, informed and engaged citizens. This work is done through philanthropic programs that focus on developing leaders for the communities. Besides, the foundation founded the Cantigny Park and several museums, helping to improve the lives of people in the community. The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is one of the largest foundations in the United States, giving over than $1 billion in benefits.

The Spencer Foundation

Lyle M. Spencer founded in 1962 the Spencer Foundation in a way of returning to education its prior help in the establishment of his family fortune. In 1968, after the death of Lyle M. Spencer, the Foundation obtained an extensive inheritance and started its formal grant making program in 1971. By Spencer’s will, this foundation principal purpose is to research into new ways to make education better. For this reason, the Spencer Foundation has created high quality research, training and fellowship programs all related to education. Since the first grants made with the given money upon Lyle M. Spencer’s death, the Spencer Foundation has made grants that go near $500 million.

Education_quote by William Butler Yeats_yosef meystel

Image courtesy of lawtherjamie at Flickr.com

Big Shoulders Fund

Big Shoulders Fund was founded in 1986, and since then it has supported Catholic schools of the more needed parts in inner Chicago. The donations of Big Shoulders Fund are destined to help the hardest working students in these needed Catholic schools. This has been made through the main programs of the Fund which provide them with scholarships, teacher development, operating grants, academic programs, instructional equipments, school facilities improvements, and faculty support. The Big Shoulders Fund has reported that 88 percent of the students graduated from the 82 schools it supports have registered for college.

Comer Family Foundation

The Comer Family Foundation is committed to improve education on the Greater Grand Crossing community on the Southside of Chicago. Recognizing that there are a lot of factors influencing learning in children, the work of the Foundation is a collaborative effort to support these fundamental components in the growth and well-being of every child in the community. Therefore, the Comer Family Foundation has created programs for academic support, college readiness, after-school enrichment, teen employment, housing and healthcare. In May 2006, they built one of the main pillars of the foundation, the Gary Comer Youth Center forms which mission is to make better the education and lives of children.

You will not believe who is one of the most important Chicago philanthropists.

We are all familiar with philanthropy, it affects our life by changing the community we live in, what we are not familiar with is who are those that help finance and plan this kind of projects and you would be surprised by how well-known some of these faces are. Some of them are famous entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg or Tony Hawk that have founded different organizations to help different communities and countries, while others work in different areas like movie making or acting, one of those in Jean “Gigi” Pritzker.

Gigi is a Hollywood producer that has worked in highly successful movies; some of them include Rabbit Hole (2010), Ender’s Game (2014), Mortdecai (2015) and fan favorite, Drive (2011). During her work, she seems to be an attentive and proficient producer, helping the directors and carefully building the movie from the beginning.

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Image courtesy of agnellina at Flickr.com

Rabbit Hole, starring Nicole Kidman, was one of the first movies she was involved with, the movie received extremely positive reviews and Kidman received multiple nominations, including the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Award.  In the movie, Becca, played by Nicole Kidman, and her husband Howie, played by Aaron Eckhart, get their world changed when their son dies in a car accident. They both deal with the trauma in different ways, Becca getting interested in the man that killed her son and Howie starts seeking help from outsiders, both making decisions that will change the course of their lives.

Drive, probably the most famous movie she worked in, was also critically acclaimed, receiving extremely good feedback and praises to the movie aesthetics, production value, acting and record.

Many magazines and critics catalogued it as an Oscar-worthy movie. The movie revolves around a mysterious man, played by Ryan Gosling, who has different jobs involving cars, including mechanic, stunt driver and getaway driver; one day he helps his neighbor Irene and gets involved in a work that will endanger him and those he cares about.

Gigi is an amazing producer but that is not the topic at hand, she is also one of the most important philanthropists of Chicago, following the tradition of her family that has always been close to helping others.

Her grandfather, A.N. Pritzker, helped funding the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago and helped funding various schools across Chicago; her father, Jay Pritzker, founder of the Hyatt line of hotels, started the Pritzker Architecture Prize, sometimes considered the Nobel prize of architecture. Her family has donated more than one hundred and ten million dollars to different charities, including the one mentioned earlier. Gigi herself has founded two big organizations, both with a social focus and with the objective of helping families and children.

The first one is the Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, which wants to help people, families and communities with three different focus areas. These areas are violence prevention; culture, arts and impact; and educational opportunities. Violence prevention focuses on helping communities and neighborhoods, helping people have different routes in life, creating better life conditions and helping those who want to redeem themselves with the intention to reduce crime rates and help restore the community.

Culture, arts and impact wants to create new initiatives in different cultural arts, looking forward to achieving creativeness and innovation; they want to create tolerance and values through art in a local, national and international scale and at the same time helping to the enrichment of the community itself.

Educational opportunities tries to give education of quality to different communities; they create institutions with good infrastructure, that facilitate learning and helps approach education in a friendly way, and organized programs to be effective in the process of teaching and helping studies achieve better levels of knowledge.

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Image courtesy of William Cho at Flickr.com

The other big organization is the Chicago Children’s Theatre that offers different kind of theatrical and educational courses to help enrich the community and help children with their projects and dreams. It has been working since 2006, creating different shows and programs with the highest professional quality. Their first production was A year with Frog and Toad and it has been a success since then, receiving a lot of critical and popular support that has helped to improve the quality of the shows and has made the community grow. They create top quality plays and shows for the community to enjoy with family and friends, and encourage young people to live their lives to the fullest.

Both organizations have received incredible support from the community and have helped create a lot of opportunities in Chicago, all thanks to the work of Gigi, her husband and other partners with whom she has developed these programs. Gigi, an arts woman herself, loves bringing arts into the equation and thinks of it as a good way to get to children and adults and help different members of the community construct values and abilities.

 

 

4 cultural charities in the Chicago Area.

Art and culture are fundamental elements of a society, essential means by which people shape their identity, explain their experiences and imagine the future. Philanthropy, etymologically, is the love of humanity, in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing, and enhancing what it means to be human.  If we mix these two definitions we can clearly see that philanthropy should always go side by side with culture. Cultural philanthropy has been forgotten in the last decades due to the many issues, sometimes more urgent, which require help from charities and philanthropic institutions. Each year in the United States, foundations award about $2.3 billion to the arts, but the distribution of these funds does not reflect the country’s evolving cultural landscape and changing demographics. So more efforts need to be done and cultural institutions need to be more active and involved in their city´s cultural atmosphere. In Chicago, the philanthropic culture is very extensive and can be seen in most levels of society. As for cultural philanthropy, there are 4 institutions in Chicago that stand out from the rest.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is more than just a display of beautiful flowers and exotic plants. They are focused on promoting a greener life and a sustainable culture by designing educational courses on many topics and interests. The Garden’s mission is to cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life. To contribute to society they have designed programs such as The Adult Program, the Youth and Family Programs, The Teacher and Student programs for schools, wellness and fitness, the Lenhardt Library, Horticultural Therapy courses and activities and Urban Agriculture programs. One of the most famous programs in the Urban Agriculture section is the Windy City Harvest which is The Chicago Botanic Garden’s urban agriculture program to spread education and knowledge about jobs, local food systems, healthier communities, and how to bring together the community around these initiatives and help them advance towards a greener economy. Also, The Regenstein Foundation Learning Campus, which is due to open in July 2016, will educate students from preschool through doctorate level in everything from horticulture to sustainability.

The Chicago Public Library Foundation has supported the library since 1986 with new material and updated books to enlarge the collections and programs at the library. They have programs for children education such as Chicago Reads Together an early literacy initiative focusing on the critical ages 0-5,and Cuentos Aquí which is a program dedicated to increase the literacy and school readiness of Hispanic children ages 0-5 in the greater Pilsen community; the CyberNavigators program that helps any person get in contact with the information via internet; the Teacher in the Library program that helps students with after school homework providing 85,296 hours of free homework help to Chicago kids during the 2014–15 school year; and the YOUmedia program which allows kids to go and hang out at a place where they can create digital products such as  poetry, design, music and video games and community partners guide them to creative self-interpretation and expression through new digital skills.

Chicago Public Library (CPL)_cultural charities in Chicago_yosef meystel

Image courtesy of Teresa Grau Ros at Flickr.com

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater is the biggest employer for Chicago actors.  At the theater they believe that Shakespeare speaks to everyone and they give back to the community with educational programs that support the work of English teachers in schools across the city and the country. They also offer matinee performances for students across the Midwest in 400 schools so they can live the Shakespeare experience and are very committed to Chicago public Schools with alliances with educators and programs such as student ticket subsidies and training for teachers.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater_cultural charities in Chicago_yosef meystel

Image courtesy of Tim Hohm at Flickr.com

The Joffrey Ballet is committed to their idea of promoting ballet among younger audiences with its Millennials program, a series of three ballets by contemporary choreographers and by promoting dance education among young dancers, offering 110 programs in 44 Chicago public schools. The Lemonis bridge program, the Middle School Dance Clubs (MSDC) and the High School Dance Clubs (HSDC), custom residency programs for schools, the Exelon Strobel Step-Up Program and the Advanced Arts Program are just some of the many programs that the Joffrey Ballet offer for community enrichment. Discounts prices for students and teachers are available all year.

Chicago is one of the cities that has a large list of charities where people can donate to the cause they think appeals more to their feelings.  Cultural development is something that an advanced society needs to take care of as it the expression and feeling of the community it represents. Many charities are focused on helping people that have issues. Cultural charities are focused on education and social transformation through educational programs. It could be through dancing, teaching environmentalism or making books accessible that cultural charities will help the community to be more informed and have the right criteria to make important decisions.

Who are the top philanthropist women in Chicago?

Philanthropy initiatives have been extremely important for the social and economical development of Chicago since the 19th century. At the beginning, Chicago philanthropists were only individuals who have the necessary wealth to help other people. The work of these individuals helped to build up the well-known philanthropy Chicago’s movement which is greatly recognized inside and outside the United States. Since International Women’s Day is just around the corner, we want to recognize the admirable work of seven women in Chicago’s community.

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Image courtesy of COD Newsroom at Flickr.com

  1. Frances Comer

Originally, Comer started her philanthropic work with her late husband Gary Comer who was the founder of Lands’ End clothing company. They founded The Comer Foundation in 1986 with two major grant-making programs. The target of the Comer Foundation is principally the health and education of children. Comer’s childhood community on Chicago’s South Side has received more than $50 million in investments which supported the building of the internationally recognized Gary Comer Youth Center. In addition, this foundation has invested in the University of Chicago and has donated $42 million for the Comer Children’s Hospital and Pediatric Emergency Department.

  1. Sister Rosemary Connelly

Since her first days in Misericordia, Sister Rosemary Connelly has put all her efforts to create a better care for children and adults with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. As current executive director of Misericordia home, Connelly has gathered a lively, affectionate community for 600 residents in the Rogers Park facility which estimated annual budget is more than $50 million. As a result of her philanthropic actions, Sister Connelly has received numerous awards, but more important, the love and respect of many people in the Chicago community.

  1. Mellody Hobson

Hobson was the youngest in a family of six children with a single mother, being her the only one in the family to graduate from college. Currently, she is the President of Ariel Investments, a company that supports the African-American Community of Bronzeville. Hobson’s philanthropic work has focused on education and equal opportunities for all in Chicago. After her marriage to filmmaker George Lucas, she has gain more recognition in Chicago’s philanthropic field. Hobson and Lucas have donated recently $25 million to both After School Matters and the University of Chicago Laboratory School.

  1. Liz Lefkofsky

During her childhood, Lefkofsky helped her mother, founder of the American Brain Tumor Association, to fold letters in support of this association. A few years later when Elizabeth got married, her husband Eric Lefkofsky, co founder and CEO of Groupon, and she established the Lefkofsky Family Foundation. Since then, they have contributed $25 million to nonprofits working in education, medical research, fundamental human rights, and arts and culture, all of these in the Chicago area. With the foundation’s recent support of 1871 FEMtech, Lefkofsky has also created opportunities for women tech entrepreneurs. The Lefkofsky have committed to give away half of their net wealth to charitable causes.

  1. Ann Lurie

Lurie is the cofounder, President and Treasurer of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Foundation, and the founder of Africa Infectious Disease Village Clinics, Inc. Before her marriage with Robert H. Lurie, she worked in public health and pediatric nursing. As Lurie is very enthusiastic about this work, she has been actively involved in direct and transformational philanthropy and research for many years now. Through the Foundation and her personal giving, Lurie has contributed to education, social services, arts and health care organizations around the world. Recently, she has been well-known for her $100 million donation to the Lurie Children’s Hospital and her profound dedication to transform healthcare in Africa. Lurie’s philanthropic work goes further away than just donating money; her committed time in all projects she is in has also been a great contribution to the community.

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Image courtesy of Alan C. at Flickr.com

  1. Paula Fasseas

Fasseas first big philanthropic action was the animal shelter PAWS in Chicago which started as a volunteer movement to give stray dogs the opportunity of having a home. But Fasseas commitment to the cause did not stop there, and she went from the nonprofit to a “no kill” model. The advanced facilities of the Fasseas Foundation, in which a variety of animals are rescued, are now admired and adopted for other PAWS organization in the United States. The Fasseas Foundation’s has also donated $1,318,350 to encourage volunteerism and philanthropy foundations.

  1. Bernarda Wong

Being just 18 years old, Wong migrated from Hong Kong to the United States. This experience gave her a reason to found CASL (Chinese American Service League) in 1979 which principal work was to support Asian immigrants in a better adaptation to the United States new life, language and culture. Starting with a budget of $30,000, Wong has expanded the Service League into a major league institute that has a $12 million annual budget nowadays. Wong’s public service includes several city and state government advisory councils, the Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR), the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) Board, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) Board, and Illinois Council on Aging.