At last month’s 1915 Society Luncheon, Trust Senior Philanthropic Advisor Bob Eichinger invited attendees to appreciate the dramatic lakefront view that stretched from Buckingham Fountain to Navy Pier.
“I want you to see the effects of planning and philanthropy on this city,” he said. “Now we want to see that happening throughout the city.”
Members of the 1915 Society gathered at Venue SIX10 Michigan Avenue, coming together for the first time since 2019. The event celebrated members’ vision and commitment to making a lasting impact through philanthropy.
Attendees also learned more about The Chicago Community Trust’s progress in addressing the region’s racial and ethnic wealth gap and supporting Chicago’s post-pandemic recovery.
In one year, We Rise Together: For an Equitable & Just Recovery—a collaborative of individual donors and corporate and philanthropic funders housed at the Trust—has invested $30 million in target neighborhoods. This strategic investment has generated more than $290 million worth of new community development projects and is projected to create 8,000 jobs, noted Gloria Castillo, director of We Rise Together.
Among them are projects like the North Austin Community Center, which We Rise Together supported with a $1.5 million grant. When it opens in early 2023, the center will bring 250,000 visitors to Austin each year for amateur sports events, a business model that will fund free programs for 400 area youth each year. These visitors will also create a new market for surrounding local businesses. We Rise Together additionally granted funding to workforce development and small business development nonprofits to ensure people in the community are prepared for jobs and local business owners are prepared to take advantage of the new traffic the center will attract.
“We Rise Together believes in a future for once-disinvested communities to see new and rehabilitated buildings delivering services and amenities on par with Chicago’s economically advantaged neighborhoods,” Castillo said. “These communities will be places where residents can earn a living that supports their families, and where local businesses can grow and thrive.”
Trust President and CEO Andrea Sáenz noted the essential role that estate gifts have played in ensuring the Trust has the flexibility to support the region in critical moments—from providing unemployment benefits during the Great Depression to stepping into action as soon as it became clear that COVID-19 would have a profound effect on the region.
“Gifts to the endowment ensure that the Trust will be here forever for Chicago,” she said.
Anne Ladky, a member the Trust’s executive committee and former CEO of the nonprofit Women Employed, said it was an easy decision for her and her wife Karen Fishman to bequeath a portion of their estate to the Trust.
“First of all, because the Trust is making such an impact on the issues of equity and opportunity that have been my passion throughout my career,” Ladky said. “Secondly, we have great confidence in the Trust’s ability to manage our resources carefully so that we can have the biggest impact possible with the funds we leave.
It’s very satisfying for us to know that what we leave will continue to benefit the vital organizations that are working to make our region a place where everyone can thrive.”
To learn more about We Rise Together or other Trust initiatives, start the conversation with your Philanthropic Advisor, or contact Adele Nandan, interim director for resource development.