About Our Community Projects
The Junior League of Chicago donates over 125,000 volunteer hours to community agencies and programs that support women and children. In addition, the JLC raises thousands of dollars each year to fund our 12 community projects. For more than a century, the JLC has diligently worked to empower at-risk families—especially women and girls—through hands-on mentoring, advocacy and education. Our Community projects fall into the following categories:
- Healthy Lifestyles
- Human Trafficking
Below is the list of projects and programs supported by The Junior League of Chicago for 2020 – 2021:
Associate Community Experience
The women who serve on the Associate Community Experience (ACE) partner with community organizations and community committees within JLC throughout the year to address the ever-evolving needs of women and children in Chicagoland. ACE is unique in that the placement is staffed solely by incoming Associates (JLC’s provisional members) in an effort to foster strong ties among new JLC members while volunteering.
Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center
Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center and our partners are the front-line responders in Chicago to reports of child sexual abuse, as well as reports of physical abuse of children under age 3.
Since opening their doors in 2001, they have served more than 30,000 children. Chicago CAC is the city’s only not-for-profit organization that coordinates the efforts of child protection staff, law enforcement professionals, family advocates, medical experts and mental health clinicians under one roof. The JLC hosts Family Nights at CAC twice a month that include a variety of activities that families are able to drop-in and do with our volunteers.
Connecting Kids to the Arts
Connecting Kids to the Arts works closely with four community partners to give children, who are either being served by its partner organizations or whose parents are being served, the opportunity to express themselves creatively, with the goal of raising their self-esteem and having fun during what may be a stressful time. At the same time, their parents are given time to either receive services themselves or simply take a much-needed break. Current partners include:
These partnerships enable the project to impact a wide range of demographics and issues in the greater Chicago area.
Done in A Day
Done in a Day organizes service projects throughout the year targeted at helping women and children in the community in just one day. The committee has relationships with dozens of partners throughout the city and creates opportunities for JLC to work with other organizations and explore future partnerships. Last year, the committee organized 75 events, ranging from painting children’s faces at Halloween events to serving meals at Lincoln Park Community Shelter. Other DIAD events include:
- JLC Joins Big Shoulders Fund for Give Back Day
- Ronald McDonald House
- Greater Chicago Food Depository
- Lincoln Park Community Shelter
The committee’s wide offering of projects, times and locations make the Junior League of Chicago’s ongoing service in the community possible. For additional information or to apply for DIAD assistance, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Freeing Individuals from Human Trafficking
The Junior League of Chicago introduced a new signature issue in 2016 – Human Trafficking. Freeing Individuals from Human Trafficking (FIHT) formed to support the fight against Human Trafficking in Chicagoland with boots on the ground. The FIHT committee works with organizations across Chicago to help support the community effort against human trafficking. In addition, FIHT explores opportunities for how the JLC can get more involved as well as educate JLC members about the human trafficking both in Chicago and beyond.
JLC partners with Second Presbyterian Church in Chicago’s South Loop to tutor 25 neighborhood children Wednesday evenings during the school year. The children are in grades 2-8 and bring their homework for assistance by JLC members as well as an educational activity and nutritious snack.
Journey to Healthy Living
Journey to Healthy Living works closely with its community partners, including LYDIA Home Association and The Michaels Organization, to provide access to health and wellness programming to women and children living in the near north and west sides of Chicago.
Programming is targeted toward the specific needs of the individuals at these partners – for example, one month, a volunteer may teach a participant self-defense move, and the next month, a volunteer might lead a discussion about stress management. This project fills an important need to have consistent monthly programming focused on serving the needs of the community partners.
Kids in the Kitchen
Kids in the Kitchen is a nationally recognized health education program that empowers youth to make healthy lifestyle choices and help reverse the growth of childhood obesity and its associated health issues.
The Junior League of Chicago’s Kids in the Kitchen mission is to impact the lives of area children for healthier lifestyles through hands-on events throughout the year. By providing fun, family-oriented solutions to healthy living, kids and youth are encouraged to be active participants in their own health and well-being.
Logan Square Neighborhood Association
Logan Square Neighborhood Association is a community-based organization advancing diversity, leader development, and models for engagement as the catalyst for social justice in the Logan Square neighborhood, spanning across ages and background. These programs offer basic life skills and opportunities for family bonding. Family nights include: “Learning How to Give Back No Matter How You Give,” “Staying Active Rain or Shine,” and “5 Tips to Healthy Cooking.”
The Mad Hatters promote literacy throughout Chicagoland by providing high-energy, interactive, storytelling-based performances geared toward children ages 3-9 and their parents. Primarily held in branches of the Chicago Public Library, these fun-filled story time shows feature children’s books, poems, and songs which demonstrate to children how much fun reading can be, while encouraging parents to read to their children at home. Originally founded by the Junior League of Chicago in 1921 as a children’s theater, the Mad Hatters have been promoting children’s literacy for nearly 100 years.
Teen Exodus serves at-risk teenage girls ages 12 to 17 in the Near North Side, Washington Park, and Uptown neighborhoods of Chicago with the goal of providing the young women with activities that foster both self-esteem and leadership growth. The JLC manages this project in collaboration with the non-profit organization Chicago Youth Programs.
JLC members mentor the teens most Saturdays throughout the school year and provide the participants with a fun, educational activity and a hot lunch. JLC members structure each event to expose the teens to experiences and activities such as hip-hop dance class, healthy cooking and theatre performances while addressing prevalent issues within the teens’ communities, such as nutrition, college and career aspirations, and teen pregnancy prevention. Since the project’s inception over ten years ago, approximately 200 young women have participated in the events and benefited from mentoring relationships with JLC volunteers.
Women’s Treatment Center
JLC has partnered with Women’s Treatment Center in the West Loop for over 25 years to help women who are undergoing the final stages of therapy for substance abuse develop the skills they need for an independent, sober life. Weekly events and programs are planned by JLC members on topics such as job interview prep, expert relationship and parenting advice, and health and wellness. By organizing family-oriented excursions and educational events as well, JLC members help the women have wholesome fun with their families and create healthy connections to their young children.