Chicago200: Cultivating Tomorrow’s Leaders, Today

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Boundaries are everywhere: between sectors, geographies, generations, backgrounds and beliefs. Chicago is replete with boundaries that are old, and create fear and uncertainty, even among those courageous enough to approach, touch and attempt to transcend them.

Chicago will not reach its true potential if our city does not break through these boundaries by convening the next generation of leaders to establish diverse relationships, facilitate crucial conversations and collaborate around future solutions.

The Chicago200 initiative can transcend these boundaries.

Chicago200 is an annual leadership program that convenes young diverse leaders from across the Chicago region to address the question, “What will we make our city known for by its 200th birthday in 2037?”

Chicago 200 will connect individuals of different economic status—our North Side and West Side residents with our South Side and Downtown residents, our young people with our established adults—all to chart the course for a more equitable Chicago by 2037.

A group of people stand in a row, smiling for the camera at a restaurant table
Chicago200 Milestone: On February 8, The Chicago Community Trust’s president & CEO Helene Gayle hosted 15 emerging leaders from organizations like Social Works, Save Money Save Life, My Block My Hood My City and more. Over dinner they discussed young leaders’ work in communities and how the Trust can amplify the voices of the next generation.


During the inaugural program in April 2019, participants will meet with city and neighborhood leaders to brainstorm, test, refine and present their visions for the city over four days. They will investigate key issues, hold difficult conversations and collaborate around tangible solutions for Chicago.

Then, On the Table 2019 will accelerate the momentum. As a follow up to Chicago200, participants will host an On the Table discussion focused on how to implement solutions emerging from Chicago200.

Beyond 2019, the goal is that a diverse alumni group of 2,000 leaders will emerge from the program over the next ten years. As advisors to established leaders in the city, these young leaders will express their vision for the city and help shape Chicago’s future. By 2037, ten big ideas will have emerged, which these leaders will help make a reality.

A group of people stand in a circle facing a speaker holding a microphone
Chicago200 Milestone: On March 1, the Chicago200 planning and civic engagement team convened emerging leaders to discuss how they are driving change in the city, and leaving their legacy.


The 2019 inaugural pilot of Chicago200 is supported by the Trust in partnership with Common Purpose, with support from Chicago Public Media, University of Chicago, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago Votes, Northern Trust, 1871, Civitas Child Law Center of Loyola University and Window to the World Communications, Inc. (WWCI), parent organization of WTTW and WFMT.