Youth Summer Jobs Program on WGN

United Way South-Southwest partnered with the Cook County Justice Advisory Council to support youth employment opportunities for south suburban Cook county teens. Over 200 kids in the program worked with the Forest Preserves of Cook County and participated in a variety of interesting tasks. Program participants, Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle, and Wendy DuBoe were interviewed about the program by WGN’s Erik Runge. Youth enrichment and job development span United Way’s issue areas and programs like this are core of our mission and we are proud of the success of the program and of the participants! http://wgntv.com/2014/08/05/teens-get-lessons-in-ecology-job-skills-while-caring-for-forest-preserve/

Bike to Work Week 2013

United Way staff getting prepared for Bike to Work Week 2013

United Way staff getting prepared for Bike to Work Week 2013

A little more than a year ago, commuting to work by bike seemed like a really great, healthy, money-saving, green idea-for other people, that is. But me actually biking downtown? That sounded, well, terrifying.

A year later, I now bike almost every day, to almost everywhere I go. I’m never quite sure which reason to name first when I’m asked why I bike -because it’s fun and fast, because I like to get out my door and go, because I automatically get my exercise in, because it’s free, etc. – but getting to this point was no small step for me.

Part of that feat was personally overcoming my fears, but there were some really helpful external factors too. Here at UWMC, I’ve enjoyed the support of my co-workers, and the thumbs-up and way-to-go’s gave me a lot of encouragement, especially when I first got started. UWMC’s involvement last year in the Bike Commuter Challenge provided space for me to learn more about biking to work, and connect with other like-minded folks-both the regular and the tentative/occasional bike-commuters. In fact, it was during the Bike Commuter Challenge week that I biked 5 workdays in a row for the first time-including a UW event in the Loop itself. I’d strolled around neighborhoods and I’d made it to our former office on the edge of the Loop, but heading into the heart of the Loop was my final biking frontier. (And now my fear hasn’t vanished just because of habit and skill– with more protected lanes in the Loop, it’s become way more bike-friendly!) And once I realized I could do it and felt good about it€¦ why stop?

Riding my bike, I feel healthier, and I’ve gotten to know my community in new and wonderful ways. I want to spread that great feeling, and I’m excited that UWMC is again participating in the Bike Commuter Challenge this year (June 8-14). Whether it’s one trek to work or a daily routine, get out on those two wheels and enjoy the Chicago summer!

Submitted on behalf of Shira Saliman, Manager of Community Investment Operations and Evaluation at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. 

Third Annual Tribune/United Way Golf Outing Takes Philanthropy to the Links

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Last month, Tribune Company held its third annual Tribune/United Way Golf Outing, raising over $24,000 for United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. The day began with roughly 100 golfers taking to the links and ended with a dinner and auction involving a live Blackhawks painting by Artbeat Live!

Golfers participated in friendly competitions while on the course, including a wager hole, closest to the pin and longest putt. At hole 8 they were greeted by Tribune Publishing and Chicago Tribune CEO, Tony Hunter, who showed his support for United Way by participating in a “Beat the Boss” closest to the pin contest.

United Way of Metropolitan Chicago would like to thank the Tribune for its long-standing partnership and commitment to providing the resources needed to help build self-sufficiency through creating practical solutions addressing challenges in the areas of education, income and health in the Chicagoland area.

United Way of Metropolitan Chicago would also like to thank A Marketing Resource, Alvarez & Marsal, American Litho, FujiFilm, Turn-Key Solutions and Giordano’s for sponsoring the Tribune/United Way Golf Outing.

June Volunteer Action

This month United Ways across the country are making their mark by hosting volunteer events to help advance the building blocks of self-sufficiency: Education, Income and Health.

2013 marks the 6th annual United Way Day of Action and we are using this day to not just highlight a single month of action, but use it as a launching pad for ongoing engagement. If we can mobilize almost 700 volunteers in June alone, imagine the possibilities for Chicagoland year-round.

United Way of Metropolitan Chicago would like to show the community how some of Chicago’s corporate partners contribute to a larger network of volunteers across the country during this single month of action.

Thank you to Accenture,  American Agricultural Insurance Company, AT&T, BlueCross BlueShield, BMO Financial Group, Deloitte, Dow Chemical, Mesirow Financial, Nielsen, Northern Trust, Performics, True Value Company, and Zurich North America for lending their muscle this month. Below are descriptions of various projects supporting United Way Partner Agencies.

Education

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Early June, Mesirow Financial will beautify the grounds of Burroughs Elementary supporting United Way’s newly launched LIVE UNITED Neighborhood Network in Brighton Park. As a supporter of this initiative, Mesirow is further focusing its resources by targeting volunteer efforts here, creating a deeper and lasting impact.

On June 7, as part of their national volunteer day, Performics will partner with United Way to mobilize over 200 volunteers. They will participate in a variety of projects that support agencies that specialize in education programming and financial stability.

  • 30 volunteers will set up the Fun day for school-age youth (last day of programming); prepping for Summer Fun, landscaping, updating bulletin boards, etc with Chicago Youth Centers at their Elliott Donnelly Youth Center.
  • 150 volunteers will deep clean, paint, garden and tutor youth at three different YMCA locations across Chicagoland. These facilities host educational programming for youth after school and during the summer.
  • 30 volunteers will shelve books, audio disks, and work with adults and children who are blind or visually impaired at Chicago Lighthouse.

Saturday, June 8, United Way will send 25 volunteers from our Young Leaders Society to paint Marshall High School in a Chicago community of greatest need. These young philanthropic leaders are supporting education by ensuring children have a safe and clean environment to learn.

June 13, 25 Nielson volunteers will support children, teachers, and faculty through tutoring and various needs, including painting and administrative support, truly helping asses and meet a number of different needs this agency has in one day.

June 28, 40 Accenture volunteers will chaperon summer day camp at Youth Crossroads in Berwyn, playing games and leading educational workshops. This promotes active learning for youth over the summer.

Income

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June 4, United Way has paired with American Agricultural Insurance Company to beautify Countryside Association’s exterior. Over the course of a few days, 15 volunteers will paint, mulch, and garden, helping support the financial stability work this agency does every day. Through their volunteer efforts, this new business is looking forward to building a strong relationship with United Way

June 5, United Way’s Young Leaders Society (YLS) is conducting mock interviews for Erie Neighborhood House for clients in their Workforce Development Program. This is the second time YLS has participated, prepping over 25 clients for permanent placement in the job market.

The week of June 5, BMO Financial Group will be mobilizing over 150 volunteers to support a United Way Partner Agency which helps its clients gain financial stability. Volunteers can participate in four different projects:

  • Volunteers will paint client counseling rooms to provide a welcoming environment.
  • Volunteers will collect, organize, sort, and deliver women’s professional clothes to empower them for upcoming job interviews.
  • Volunteers will assemble “Starter Kits” for domestic abuse survivor victims getting back on their feet.
  • Volunteers will conduct mock phone interviews to job seekers who use this agency’s Community Career Center. Each call lasts one hour, 30 minutes for a mock interview and another 30 minutes for interviewer feedback and suggestions.

June 6, As part of their Global Community Week, Zurich will run its second annual Volunteer Fest and Skillshare Summit in Schaumburg. A shining example of skills-based volunteering, non-profits are invited to attend various capacity building workshops run by Zurich employees. These include:

  • The Power of Networking,
  • The Recipe for Working with a Corporate Volunteer Group,
  • Navigating the World of Social Media,
  • Learning How to Plan for Today’s Talent Demands.

On June 21, Dow Chemical will partner with Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired; purchasing supplies for a project to complete with 20 volunteer and adult clients, helping ultimately build social skills necessary for every day life and career success.

Health

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On June 1, 8, 9, & 23, 40 BlueCross BlueShield volunteers will partner with United Way to support agencies with health programming. As a health insurance company, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois sends the bulk of their employee volunteers to health-related agencies by serving and distributing food. Volunteers will:

  • Help distribute food items to community members in need at Loaves and Fishes.
  • Act as cooks and servers for clients at Living Room Cafe.
  • Act as cooks and servers for clients at Inspiration Cafe.
  • Help sort and distribute food to community members where there is little-to-no access to fresh produce.

June 6, 40 Deloitte volunteers will volunteer with United Way as part of their National Impact Day. This project will consist of outdoor beautification and landscaping at the McCormick Tribune YMCA. This United Way Partner Agency sits on a very large piece of property with lots of flower beds and areas requiring weeding, clean-out, and maintenance.

Over the course of June 6  and 25, 50 Northern Trust volunteers will sort and organize food in the warehouse and package individual food boxes for distribution to the Mother & Child Nutrition Program and the Senior Citizens Supplemental Food Program.

June 13, 15 AT&T Women of Finance mentoring group volunteers will do a mix of painting and interacting with the summer day campers supporting active summer lifestyles at Indian Boundary YMCA.

June 28, 12 True Value volunteers will play games, arts & crafts, read, and participate in light physical activities with the Head Start youth education programs supported by United Way.

June 20, 15 Zurich volunteers are working with a Chicago Public School to help with their annual field day. This activity supports United Way’s Health Initiative as they will help with games, activities and healthy snacks.

If you would like to get involved in June Action this year or next year, please contact Kristen Johnson, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, 312.906.2496, Kristen.johnson@uw-mc.org.

What it Takes to Restore a City

What does it take to save a failing neighborhood? A question with no definitive answer, it’s being echoed throughout the Chicago area with urgency. With crime rates skyrocketing, home foreclosures booming and record-setting population loss, community activists are left wondering how to save their city. A recent article in RedEye, ‘Englewood: Serious Business‘ reflected on the issues one particular Chicago neighborhood faces. Most recently known as the hometown of NBA star Derrick Rose, many in the area believe positive role models and sports may bring light to the neighborhood. Others argue that education and literacy are keys to a successful revival, as they are the roots of change. What do you believe is the way to restoration for Chicago’s deteriorating neighborhoods? Education, positive role models, a return to family-oriented beliefs or something more?

Five Free Things to Visit In Chicago

While Chicago is a beautiful city, it can also be an expensive one. I often decline invitations simply because a night out can cost a fortune. However, $15 movie tickets and $40 per person dinners are not the only options. I began researching fun, free things to do with friends this summer, and was surprised by the long lists I found. Here are some of my favorites: Art Institute of Chicago is free to all on the first and second Wednesdays of every month and is located in the heart of downtown at 111 South Michigan Avenue. Farmer’s Markets are a fun way to enjoy the summer weather, support local farmers and explore the city. Lincoln Park Zoo is open and free to the public 7 days a week. Open weekdays 10 a.m.—5 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m.—6:30 p.m., May 29—September 6. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 17,000 square feet of rooftop gardens, large greenhouses, walks among colorful butterflies and more. Visitors can enter for free on Thursdays, but a donation is appreciated. Grant Park Music Festival located at Millennium Park, all are welcome to bring a blanket and a picnic to enjoy on Pritzker Pavilion’s lawn while listening to the various musical guests.