2022/23 event highlights

Mingle and Jingle – November 29, 2022

Ringing in the holiday season, Impact Grants Chicago hosted a festive gathering at Floating World Gallery to celebrate our members and their generous contributions. A wonderful Spanish Wine Tasting was donated by member Connie Molitor of Fine Wines, Inc. We exchanged greetings and welcomed many new members at the well attended event. Over $1,660 in gift cards were collected which will be shared among our recent 2022 Grantees, who will pass them on to those they serve. Representatives from Chicago Furniture Bank and Margaret’s Village joined our celebration.

Lunch and Learn – November 9, 2022

Over 100 Impact members and their guests gathered to hear our 2022 Lunch and Learn panelist discussion of homelessness in Chicago. Our panelists included 46th Alderman James Cappleman, Common Pantry Executive Director Margaret O’Conor, and Chicago Furniture Bank Co-Founder Griffin Amdur, who shared their distinct and overlapping perspectives as well as recommendations for individual actions: donate your professional skills, “get out of your bubble,” and understand that people facing homelessness, like all of us, seek choice, respect, and a desire to be heard. Common Pantry and Chicago Furniture both received Impact grants last June.

Impactful Conversation with CASA of Cook County – October 18, 2022

(We are grateful to Impact member Bonnie Brown, who arranged for the use of a conference room to hold our Impactful Conversation with CASA on October 18, 2022. Thanks, Bonnie!)

We heard a sobering and inspiring report from CASA’s Dr. Bonita Carr and Amber Kirk about the impact of our grant on their C.I.T.Y. program for older youth, which assigns participants an individual CASA Advocate before they age out of the foster care system. Advocates offer one-on-one support to their mentees as they tackle the C.I.T.Y. program’s core modules, which cover job readiness, life skills, and financial literacy skills, among many others.

For older youth who age out of care without any intervention, the statistics are stark: less than 50% graduate from high school, only 3% attend college, and over half are homeless within 6 months. Our grant has made it possible for more youth to be assigned to the C.I.T.Y. program, but the need remains great - there are more than 5600 children in Cook County foster care, but funding for only 642 CASA Advocates. You can find information on CASA’s November 10th Zoom gala here.

Volunteer Event with Chicago Furniture Bank – October 12, 2022

19 Impact Grants Chicago members and guests spent the morning unpacking and organizing donations and preparing kitchenware boxes for Chicago Furniture Bank clients. We had a good time processing MANY boxes of donated items, and we filled up two large pallets with completed kitchenware boxes. We are so proud to be associated with Chicago Furniture Bank, whose mission is to provide dignity, stability and comfort to Chicagoans that face poverty.

Kickoff Event - September 20, 2022

We kicked off our 6th year for Impact Grants Chicago on September 20, 2022 with some wine and hors d'oeuvres at the beautiful Jackson Junge Art Gallery in Wicker Park. It was wonderful to see all the members and guests who came to connect and support another year of impactful giving. Two of our 2021/22 grantees, Griffin Amdur & Andrew Witherspoon of Chicago Furniture Bank and Margaret O’Conor from Common Pantry were able to attend and update us on the use of the $100,000 grant money they received from us in June.

Impactful Conversation with Chicago Furniture Bank – September 7, 2022

23 members and guests toured CFB’s warehouse and saw firsthand how this young organization provides gently used furniture for people in need (50% of their clients have an annual income under $6,000 per year). We toured the CFB showroom, where clients choose the furniture they need, and saw the staging areas used to organize furniture for the 4,000 homes they will furnish in 2022. CFB creates jobs for at-risk youth with limited workforce opportunities, and has started a social enterprise, Honest Junk Company, which funds CFB’s mission.

 

Impactful Conversation with Common Pantry – August 25, 2022

We learned more about the thoughtful and varied services provided by 2022 Grantee Common Pantry as it works to reduce hunger and address the root causes of poverty. In addition to providing nutritious and culturally sensitive food, Common Pantry offers assistance with housing, healthcare, and job searches; it can also provide clients with a mailing address, an essential first-step. Common Pantry responded to the pandemic by setting up a wide-ranging food delivery program, which has become a lifeline for clients with mobility and transportation issues. During our visit, members were able to tour Common Pantry’s new site, presently under construction, which our Impact grant is helping to fund.