Black Leaders United: Boldly Championing Chicago’s Black Community

United Way of Metro Chicago is proud to announce our newest affinity group — Black Leaders United! While the Black Leaders United (BLU) Council has already been hard at work behind the scenes for several months, the group is making big moves and extending an invitation to join in this work.

Studies have shown that the zip code a person grows up in can have a profound impact on their opportunities in life. This means that some of our neighbors in Chicago will not have the same doors opened to them. Black Leaders United is dedicated to eliminating differential outcomes that disproportionately impact Black communities.

This group of innovators and collaborators are advocating for programs and initiatives that stabilize black communities throughout the city and suburbs. By establishing committees focused on United Way’s impact areas of health, education, financial stability and safety net, BLU is supporting United Way’s efforts to ensure that every family across our region has access to the wraparound services needed to succeed.

“I chose to join Black Leaders United because of the opportunity to direct resources to the communities that matter most to me,” said Tanya Anthony, BLU financial stability impact lead and budget director for Cook County. “ I am excited to work with like-minded people who are dedicated to devoting their time and talent to uplifting and ensuring equity in OUR communities.”

With an active group of professionals from a variety of backgrounds and industries, members bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. Networking events provide opportunities to learn more about the work and meet the people who are driving the change. Grow your network by working alongside a diverse set of leaders to address the issues that impact our region.

“Being a part of Black Leaders United is important to me because it generates a space in my life to provide a pathway; a pathway that will help lead the charge of enabling racial equity in our Chicagoland communities for our children,” said Jessica Caffrey, BLU executive administrator and director of real estate for Cook County.

Darnell Johnson, BLU Chairman and spiritual & social architect for Humanity Solutions Group added: “Many see the social inequity and ask ‘Why?’ Black Leaders United sees its racial equity advocacy as a catalyst to a social revolution and asks ‘Why not?’”

If you’re interested in learning more about this dynamic group, click here and RSVP today to join us for the Black Leaders United Open House on Tuesday, February 19 from 6:00pm – 7:30pm at the United Way of Metro Chicago offices. For more details, email

If you’re ready to amplify United Way’s impact through fundraising, advocacy and leadership opportunities, join BLU today!

A Warm Welcome to Women United!

United Way of Metro Chicago’s Women’s Leadership Council is making a bold change… Welcome, Women United!

United Way of Metro Chicago’s Women United will join a network of more than 70,000 female leaders in more than 165 communities across six countries. This transition will enable the members of United Way’s Women United to maintain a local focus, while also having a stronger global impact.

As an integral part of United Way, Women United tackles systemic problems by empowering women across different industries to join forces in order to leverage ideas, expertise and resources, transforming the very conditions in which people live.

As a Chicago chapter, this group of philanthropic business leaders is specifically dedicated to finding long-term solutions to our region’s most complex challenges – barriers to quality childhood education, limited access to healthcare, housing and food insecurity, and a lack of financial or employment growth.

Most recently, Women United hosted a Mother’s Day event at Westcott Elementary School in our Auburn Gresham Neighborhood Network. The group collected beauty products and helped 50 young students make gift bags for their moms and other important women in their lives. This is just one example of the group’s continued efforts to strengthen community and familial bonds, which are the foundation of strong neighborhoods.

All members of Women United are dedicated to advocating, volunteering and fundraising for the most vulnerable in our community. Through a diverse set of backgrounds and a shared focus on a common goal, they are positioned to create lasting change.

Let’s introduce you to the driving forces behind United Way’s Women United, who are also some of the most dynamic women leaders in business, health and finance in Chicago. 

Interested in joining this group of local leaders in our fight for a stronger Chicago? Click here to donate and become a member today!

The 4th Annual YLS IGNITE

Our 4th annual YLU IGNITE was one of our most successful yet! 

Hosted by Young Leaders United, this mid-winter party is an opportunity for young philanthropists to help raise funds for different United Way programs each year, all while having a fun-filled evening with friends, new and old.

Hosted at Savage Smyth, one of Chicago’s hottest venues, this year’s event included a live band, The Local Jokes, as well as dancing, drinks, a photo booth and a rooftop ice skating rink. We were in good company, too. Israel Idonije, founder of iF Charities and former Defensive End for the Chicago Bears, joined the celebration, along with WGN-TV Anchor Dan Ponce, who livened up the night as our emcee. 

Igniting an impact

IGNITE 2018 was made possible by the generous donations of 26 corporate sponsors, including our patron sponsors, Exelon and the Skender Foundation. After thoughtful donations, ticket sales and silent auction proceeds, the event raised more than $95,000.

The proceeds from IGNITE will help support our AmeriCorps members across the Chicago region. With these donations, United Way will have the resources to provide the long-term volunteers with invaluable training sessions and help them maintain their community-service programs. Thanks to YLU and the annual IGNITE event, the amazing service of the AmeriCorps members will have an even greater impact within our communities!