Imagine being given the chance to receive a $100,000 grant for a work project that’s near and dear to your heart.
That plus the added pressure of having it hinge on one final presentation, with the results announced on the spot.
Impact 100 Chicago gave its first $100,000 grant to Chicago Lights at an event held at Arlington Park, with a crowd of over 170 guests. Five non-profit organizations presented a pitch as to why their project most deserved the first annual $100,000 Chicago grant.
To create this generous award, the 126 all-female members of Impact 100 Chicago each contributed $1,000. (The remaining $26,000 was divided equally among the four runners-up, meaning no one went home empty-handed).
The process began in 2010, when Impact 100 Chicago divided letters of inquiry from local non-profits into five categories: Health and Wellness, Environmental, Arts and Culture, Family, and Education. Each committee narrowed the group down to about three organizations. Those nonprofits wrote a grant, assessed by Impact 100 Chicago’s financial review board. Then, Impact 100 Chicago members made site visits. In the end, each committee chose one non-profit to present at the first annual grant award celebration held on June 14.
The 5 finalists were:
- Almost Home Kids– expansion to its Naperville home for medically fragile children
- Chicago Lights– taking an abandoned basketball court in Cabrini Green and building a Greenhouse Learning Lab
- St. Martin de Porres House of Hope– Genesis Project which would help the recovery process for families of homeless, addicted women who reside in the group’s shelter
- Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra– creation of a Steel Drum Ensemble for underprivileged youth
- Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund– funding 20 members of its class of 2015 for one year at boarding school
Chicago Lights left with the $100,000 grant, and plans to install the greenhouse this summer.
The Greenhouse Learning Lab “will provide a voice for youth in violent communities,” said Natasha Holbert, Urban Farm Program Director from Chicago Lights.
With a successful first year, Impact 100 Chicago now has an even bigger vision. “The goal of 2011 is to have 200 members to give two $100,000 grants next year,” said Marybeth Lernihan, President of Impact 100 Chicago.