While we won’t know the full extent of the economic downfall of Covid-19 for some time, we do know that it will have the biggest impact on small businesses, restaurants and nonprofits. Nonprofits rely heavily on donations raised through events and galas—many of which have been cancelled. The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) is one of the city’s most important and beloved nonprofit cultural organizations, with a fundamental mission, to quote Chicago Tribune Architectural Editor Blair Kamin, “to raise the city’s collective design IQ.” CAC relies heavily on the revenue from tours, exhibitions and programs. Because of shutdowns and social distancing measures, they are looking ahead at a summer season with a drastic decline in revenue.
“The devastating economic impact of these new restrictions will greatly diminish our ability to generate revenue we need to operate for weeks and perhaps months to come,” said CAC in an email seeking support. “We will not be able to navigate these unchartered waters alone.”
The CAC, formerly known as the Chicago Architecture Foundation, inspires people to discover why design matters through award-winning education programs recognized by the American Institute of Architects and the National Trust for Historic Preservation and made available free or at low cost to many families.
The CAC was founded in 1966 “to save Glessner House, the Richardsonian Romanesque masterpiece on Prairie Avenue,” writes Kamin. In 2018, CAC moved from its home at the former Santa Fe building at 224 S. Michigan to 111 E. Wacker Drive, where the organization now offers 85 different architecture tours, including the famed Chicago River cruise. In 2018, CEO Lynn Osmond noted that CAC tours draw an estimated 688,000 people a year.
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With the shutdown, CAC has pivoted to virtual tours and educational programming, but the loss of the main source of revenue is a huge toll on the nonprofit. With the temporary suspension of tours due to the COVID-19 crisis, CAC anticipates the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.
How can you help? Donations from individuals will help the CAC continue to offer these important programs to students at home with limited access to their normal learning opportunities. Even better, if you are able to support their mission with a donation, it will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $15,000, thanks to a generous gift from CAC Trustee Ann Drake. Ms. Drake is the founder of AWESOME, an organization dedicated to achieving women’s excellence in supply chain operations, management, and education.
A special thanks, also, to Susan and Nick Noyes for nominating the CAC to be featured and for their generous gift towards reaching the CAC’s $15,000 goal.
Donations can be made here, and they will be matched through July 31.
You can also participate in their virtual class offerings for kids, teens and adults, which include Architecture Essentials, Build-It Design Challenges and even a Neighborhood Strollers club that provide guides for quick and easy walks, where you can appreciate the many styles of homes along the way.
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Macaire Douglas lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to prevent the illegal abandonment of newborns nationwide. Since its inception in 2000, more than 3,600 newborns have been safely surrendered and adopted into loving homes.