Editor's Note: The $100,000 grant was awarded to BUILD, Inc. on June 3.
LINCOLN PARK — The city chapter of women's philanthropic organization Impact 100 Chicago takes its name seriously.
The group, which consists of 123 women, will award a $100,000 grant and two $11,500 grants to three Chicago nonprofits on June 3 at Kendall College.
"'Impact' is definitive of what we are and what we want to be," said co-founder Allison Bacon, who lives near the DePaul University campus in Lincoln Park. "We're trying to make an impact in a number of ways."
Bacon and fellow Lincoln Park resident Georgy Ann Peluchiwski founded the city chapter of Impact 100 Chicago last summer. The two have known each other for 15 years, and Bacon had participated in a similar Impact group in Austin, Texas. The pair formed the city chapter to work in conjunction with suburban-based Impact 100 Chicago, which was formed three years ago.
In its first year, the city chapter reviewed 55 applications for the grants. After an extensive process, which included in-depth interviews with employees and site visits, three finalists were revealed earlier this month: BUILD, Inc.; Inspiration Corporation; and Urban Initiatives.
"I can't believe this is their first year because they've got everything so well run," said Printers Row resident Diane Pascal, the vice president of external relations at Inspiration Corporation. "No matter who wins [the $100,000 grant], it's going to be a really nice transformation for somebody."
The winner will be announced at the June 3 meeting. Each of the finalists will have a short presentation, and then the members will vote. Members who can't be present were given absentee ballots, Peluchiwski said.
"We felt very good that none of the organizations will go home empty handed," Peluchiwski said. "This has all been super rewarding, especially to see how engaged this group of women has been in the process."
Pascal said Inspiration Corporation, which provides social services, workforce development and housing support for the homeless, would use the $100,000 grant to expand their contract catering service at their East Garfield Park location.
Urban Initiatives co-founder and executive director Jim Dower, a Lincoln Park native and Logan Square resident, said his organization would use the grant money to expand its "Work to Play" program, a sports-based youth development project. Work to Play currently is in schools in 20 neighborhoods across Chicago, and the $100,000 grant would allow Urban Initiatives to add six schools to the mix, Dower said.
"I'm always hesitant to add large amounts of schools unless the plan has sustainability, and Impact 100's plan gives us sustainability space," said Dower, who helped create Urban Initiatives 10 years ago. "I feel like the more groups like Impact 100 that happen in Chicago, it really will do greater good for the city."
BUILD, Inc., which hopes to prevent youth violence and reduce at-risk behavior among 6- to 18-year-olds, would expand its education programs in Austin with the grant money, said Danny Perez, the group's manager of marketing and public relations.
"That sort of grant, it's a game-changer for us," said Perez, of Humboldt Park. "It makes a huge difference."
That was the idea all along for Bacon, who, along with Peluchiwski mailed 200 letters in October to prospective group members.
Each of the 123 who joined, including the more than 100 from Chicago, donated $1,000 to the cause.
"Thrilled, overwhelmed, excited, proud," were the words Bacon chose to describe the success of Impact 100 Chicago's first city chapter go-around. "We were also very optimistic that we were going to make the difference that we wanted to."
Bacon hopes to raise at least $200,000 by next year and, by 2017, award five $100,000 grants in each of the group's mission categories: Education; Family Services; Health and Wellness; Arts and Culture; and Environment.
"In our stage of life, we have been involved with lots of non-profits," Bacon said. "This is the right fit for us ... where we actually get to dive in and see these organizations in action and really see who's making a difference. It has a real profound impact I think.
"The whole thing has been one big wonderful story."