Have you been wanting to devote time or money to one of the many Chicago nonprofits but just haven’t found the right one yet? Say no more.
Chicago is absolutely jam-packed with amazing organizations advancing some of the most ambitious social programs in the country. No matter what issue captures your heart, Chicago has an organization for you and we’ve made the search process easy. As nonprofits, it can be easy to keep our heads down and do the work, but it’s also awesome to connect with all the incredible groups making Chicago a better place.
Without further ado, here are 11 of the best nonprofits in Chicago.
1. Social Works
You might have heard about this charity because of the high-visibility achieved by its Founder, Chance the Rapper. This young man has become a hallmark example of what it means to be from Chicago – hard work, a passion for people, and a creative spirit that isn’t afraid to jump right in and do the work. Social Works has awarded grants to various CPS schools on the South Side, while envisioning a beautifully adept way of identifying needs based on dialogue and interaction with the communities they serve.
The Alliance has helped reduce pollution flowing into Lake Erie by 40 percent, and helped Illinois phase out the manufacture and sale microbeads, which marine organisms mistake for food. Their Adopt-a-Beach cleanup leverages 15,000 volunteers picking up 52,000 pounds of debris, which provides researchers with valuable data for marine health.
Since 1980, they’ve directed more than $350 million to 2,300 research studies. One of its innovations: TrialMatch, a free online service that connects patients with clinical trials for which they might be eligible.
The loved ones of Saturday Night Live cast member Gilda Radner founded this nonprofit after she succumbed to cancer in 1989. It now provides more than 350 free activities each month like support groups, social events, arts and crafts, and family programs. Membership is open to those all who are affected by cancer, including friends and loved ones.
More than just a housing program, Bridge places DuPage county homeless families into comfortably furnished apartments for two years. They provide financial coaching, career advice, interview preparation, therapy, and even nutritional counseling to help them get back on track.
6. Cara Program
Cara’s rigorous training teaches team building and financial literacy to prepare graduates to enter the workforce and stay there. Cara also runs a neighborhood beautification business and a temp firm that dispenses valuable job experience.
This indelible organization distributes food through 650 pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters across Cook County. Its delivers free healthy lunches to kids and fresh fruits and vegetables to food deserts. One in six county residents benefits from this food bank’s services every year.
8. PAWS Chicago
PAWS deserves much of the credit from bringing the number of euthanized dogs and cats in Chicago from 42,000 to less than 10,00 since its founding in 1997. While running the largest pet adoption and foster programs in the city, PAWS also spays and neuters about 20,000 pets per year, most of which are done free of charge.
CLC is a major provider of low-cost and pro bono legal assistance to 25,000 clients per year. They charge on a sliding-scale fee structure, which is particularly advantageous for Chicago’s working poor who do not qualify for free legal services from the state.
SOS has built foster care “villages” of private homes where full-time, professionally trained foster parent care for foster children who are grouped with their biological siblings. SOS villages have offered support and strength for over 600 children since 2014.
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