PHILANTHROPY

AWARD WINNERS



We founded Make It Better to connect and help our audience amplify their philanthropic efforts. We found this leads to more connections and ideas, a heightened feeling of community, more money raised by good people, and better business for everyone. It’s a virtuous circle.

To amplify this feeling of good will, we established our annual Philanthropy Awards. An impressive group 
of judges—thoughtful, strategic philanthropists all—choose winners from applications submitted online.

Their prizes include videos and articles that bring to life their missions and demonstrate that donated dollars are well spent.

Our sincerest congratulations to the inspirational and innovative winners, and to the dedicated employees and volunteers who keep these nonprofits going strong. Click on each winner’s name below to learn more about the organization and watch their video.

4th ANNUAL AWARD WINNER VIDEOS

Education
This award recognizes the best in education programs including programs that encourage teacher excellence, charter schools with innovative models, literacy interventions, after-school homework assistance programs, executive and study skills training programs, and earliest intervention programs for young developing minds.

ACADEMY FOR GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP

The Academy for Global Citizenship is a jewel nestled amid urban blight. A nonprofit Chicago public charter school, the Academy for Global Citizenship is making waves in elementary education, working to create a class of scholars that care about their community as much as their grades. Founded in 2008 by Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, a Cambridge graduate and […]

Health

FRESH START CARING FOR KIDS FOUNDATION

A newcomer to Chicago, Fresh Start Caring for Kids Foundation is devoted to making a difference in the lives of children with physical deformities. The Foundation provides no-cost medical services to children ages 1 through 17 through surgery weekends and follow-up medical care. A majority of the surgery hours and follow-up care are donated by a […]

Human Services
This award recognizes the best human services organization in Family, Youth and Child services as well as Social Services in and around Chicago.

GIGI’S PLAYHOUSE

Walking into GiGi’s Playhouse you are immediately met with a wave of smiles, giggles and most of all, an exuberant energy. Such a spirited atmosphere, however, stands in stark contrast to the sterile room Nancy Gianni first attended following her daughter’s Down syndrome diagnosis. “There were great support groups but they always took place in […]

Human Services
This award recognizes the best human services organization in Family, Youth and Child services as well as Social Services in and around Chicago.

HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES AND MAINTENANCE FOR THE ELDERLY (H.O.M.E.)

Nicknamed Chiberia for its extreme cold during the winter, Chicago can be a hard place to live, especially for the city’s low-income elderly. With little money to allocate for home maintenance and upkeep, many low-income seniors have a tough time enduring. That’s where Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly comes in — H.O.M.E. for […]

Social Justice
This award recognizes the best in social justice. Programs that assure every person has fair and equal opportunity access to a society’s economic resources, political and legal systems will be considered.

JAMES B. MORAN CENTER FOR YOUTH ADVOCACY

Founded more than 30 years ago, the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy (once the Evanston Community Defender) works to provide low-income Evanston youth and their families with integrated legal and social work services. The school-to-prison pipeline is the biggest worry of those who work at the Center for Youth Advocacy, 4th Annual Philanthropy Awards […]

Arts

SNOW CITY ARTS

It all starts with a knock on the door and brief question, “Do you want to make art today?” At Snow City Arts(SCA), teaching artists aim to educate and inspire hospitalized children through one-on-one instruction in the visual arts, creative writing, music and film making. To the teaching artists, they are students, not just patients. […]

3rd ANNUAL AWARD WINNER VIDEOS

Athletics
This award recognizes the best in organizations that promote athletics and athletic development among youth. This includes organizations that equip and train recreational youth and future athletes, as well as those that promote self esteem, self care and positive social interaction through sports-related training.

CRUSHERS CLUB

Crushers Club is a most improbable and quite remarkable story. Mother of three Sally Hazelgrove moves her family to Englewood—one of the most challenging neighborhoods in the country—because she feels called to help. Gang banging and shootings abound there; opportunities to escape that life do not. Hazelgrove asks young males loitering on street corners what […]

Audience Choice
Help us find and celebrate an outstanding nonprofit by voting for our new “Audience Choice” Award Winner.

HORIZONS FOR YOUTH

Horizons for Youth is an organization that believes that every child, no matter his or her academic ability or socioeconomic background, can graduate from college and successfully pursue a career. They believe the key is the right personalized support. “People come to our program with a wide variety of academic abilities and personal experiences,” says […]

Education Nation
This award recognizes the best in education programs including programs that encourage teacher excellence, charter schools with innovative models, literacy interventions, after-school homework assistance programs, executive and study skills training programs, and earliest intervention programs for young developing minds.

PHALEN LEADERSHIP ACADEMIES

Phalen Leadership Academies (PLA) is a dream come true for parents in underserved urban Indianapolis. This nonselective charter school partners closely with parents and provides an outstanding, differentiated grade school education to a student population that is largely eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. The curriculum includes art, music, physical fitness and significant use of technology. The school […]

Human Services
This award recognizes the best human services organization in Family, Youth and Child services as well as Social Services in and around Chicago.

REFUGEEONE

Imagine fleeing your home because of war, terror or persecution, only to find yourself in a foreign land with few resources. For the many refugees who come to the Chicago area each year, RefugeeOne provides crucial assistance during that difficult transition. The Chicago-based resettlement organization helps refugees find housing, acclimate to American culture, develop computer skills, […]

Education
This award recognizes the best in education programs including programs that encourage teacher excellence, charter schools with innovative models, literacy interventions, after-school homework assistance programs, executive and study skills training programs, and earliest intervention programs for young developing minds.

SITSTAYREAD

Almost everyone likes dogs—the cuddling, the love. SitStayRead, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the love of learning and improving literacy proficiency for at-risk kids, capitalizes on that idea. Dogs allow SitStayRead (SSR) to tackle the sobering issue of childhood literacy with a positive spin: they address reading fluency in a fun way by incorporating reading […]

Most Improved Fundraising
This award recognizes the continual improvement of NFP fundraising efforts at the local and national levels. We are looking for effective fundraising growth from one year to the next, or one program run to the next.

SKIN OF STEEL

Susan Steel was given a timestamp of 12 months on her life in January of 2008. She was battling melanoma, and at the time she had already completed three years of intensive treatment at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. It is the world’s largest and top-funded melanoma clinic. Steel is a now a […]

Social Justice
This award recognizes the best in social justice. Programs that assure every person has fair and equal opportunity access to a society’s economic resources, political and legal systems will be considered.

SOLIDARITY BRIDGE

In much of the United States, access to health care is often taken for granted. But in many South American countries, that access is far from a given. That’s where Solidarity Bridge comes in. Their mission is to train, equip and empower the medical communities in Bolivia and Paraguay to serve the most needy. This […]

Environment
This award recognizes the best in environment programs for advocacy, research and education that improve environmental quality and protect our natural resources.

TREES THAT FEED FOUNDATION

Growing up in Jamaica, Mary McLaughlin often ate breadfruit, which she describes as tasting like a bagel when it has been baked or roasted. Today, McLaughlin, along with her husband, Mike, and a team of volunteers, is using that same breadfruit to combat hunger and environmental issues around the world through the Trees That Feed […]

2nd ANNUAL AWARD WINNER VIDEOS

Education
This award recognizes the best in education programs including programs that encourage teacher excellence, charter schools with innovative models, literacy interventions, after-school homework assistance programs, executive and study skills training programs, and earliest intervention programs for young developing minds.

BERNIE’S BOOK BANK

In 2005, golf instructor Brian Floriani decided it was time to make a career change. Drawn to the idea of becoming an elementary school teacher, he took a job as a reading paraprofessional. He soon realized there was a need to get books into the hands of children who did not have their own, or […]

Athletics
This award recognizes the best in organizations that promote athletics and athletic development among youth. This includes organizations that equip and train recreational youth and future athletes, as well as those that promote self esteem, self care and positive social interaction through sports-related training.

BEYOND SPORTS FOUNDATION

Beyond Sports Foundation (BSF) is in the business of creating superstars.   Its holistic approach to mentoring high school student athletes has allowed graduates to advance to competitive collegiate athletics, with many moving on to successful professional careers. And for the more than 70 graduates of its high school program, BSF is a ticket to […]

Most Improved Fundraising
This award recognizes the continual improvement of NFP fundraising efforts at the local and national levels. We are looking for effective fundraising growth from one year to the next, or one program run to the next.

GARFIELD PARK CONSERVATORY

Fleurotica isn’t your average fashion-show fundraiser. The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance (GPCA) puts on a stunning annual fashion show featuring attire made from natural plant materials by local designers to create a world of wonder. The wearable art raises money so that the Conservatory can continue its arts and other community-enrichment programs in the beautiful […]

Arts

LITERATURE FOR ALL OF US

Literature for All of Us reaches out to these troubled young adults and provides a safe place where they can develop communication, literacy and critical-thinking skills alongside their peers. Since 1996, when Executive Director and Founder Karen Thomson organized the first book group, thousands of young people have been served using her innovative, holistic literacy […]

Health

MIDWEST PALLIATIVE HOSPICE & CARECENTER

There is a reason why the Chicago Tribune named the Midwest Palliative Hospice & CareCenter a top 100 workplace in 2012.   Perhaps it’s the sheer dedication they have to their patients, ensuring that every bit of their experience is tailored to individual needs. They respect and honor each patient’s religious, cultural and personal choices […]

Human Services
This award recognizes the best human services organization in Family, Youth and Child services as well as Social Services in and around Chicago.

MOTHER’S TRUST FOUNDATION

For underprivileged youth in Lake County that depend on social services, having unmet needs can cause anxiety about the certainty of their futures.   This is exactly the point when the Mother’s Trust Foundation steps in. When Mother’s Trust receives a request from a qualified professional that cannot be met in full anywhere else, they […]

Most Improved Fundraising
This award recognizes the continual improvement of NFP fundraising efforts at the local and national levels. We are looking for effective fundraising growth from one year to the next, or one program run to the next.

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY SETTLEMENT HOUSE

Any day of the year you can find people happily engaged in helping others in NUSH’s historic facility on the north west side of Chicago.   Anyone in need will be warmly welcomed in the entry, which feels like a well-loved living room.  “Everyone who comes here is considered a neighbor, and we can make […]

Education Nation
This award recognizes the best in education programs including programs that encourage teacher excellence, charter schools with innovative models, literacy interventions, after-school homework assistance programs, executive and study skills training programs, and earliest intervention programs for young developing minds.

THE POSSE FOUNDATION

For The Posse Foundation, forward movement started with just one sentence.   In 1989, Founder and President Deborah Bial was working with talented young people from impoverished urban areas in New York City. She watched these ambitious students leave for college, only to see them return before the semester was through, having dropped out of […]

Human Services
This award recognizes the best human services organization in Family, Youth and Child services as well as Social Services in and around Chicago.

YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS UMBRELLA

Youth Organizations Umbrella (Y.O.U.) has been bringing it’s particular brand of magic to the Evanston community since 1974.   Having served more than 15,000 youth in the past 40 years, their success is undeniable. Y.O.U. provides academic assistance; life-skills education; social-skills development; recreational, athletic and artistic activities; parental support; crisis intervention; mentoring; case management  and […]

1st ANNUAL AWARD WINNER VIDEOS

Most Inspiring Mission (LOCAL)

A SAFE HAVEN

A family with resources facing a crisis has a vastly different experience than a family with limited economic means. TheiNeli Vazquez-Rowland, co-founder and president of A Safe Haven, discovered that first hand. “My husband returned from military service, and as is common for many veterans, he had a bout of alcoholism, and fortunately we had […]

Lives Make Better

BY THE HAND CLUB FOR KIDS

It really does take a village. Fact—kids do better academically, socially, spiritually and emotionally when they are surrounded by a support system invested in their development. By The Hand Club for Kids is just that—a program in some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods that raises kids out of poverty and helplessness toward a solid future. Why […]

Education
This award recognizes the best in education programs including programs that encourage teacher excellence, charter schools with innovative models, literacy interventions, after-school homework assistance programs, executive and study skills training programs, and earliest intervention programs for young developing minds.

DANIEL MURPHY SCHOLARSHIP FUND

The Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund gives economically disadvantaged students financial and educational assistance so they can succeed. The fund not only works with schools to identify and provide scholarships for 100 students each year, but they also provide critical support to their scholars, including: Bridge to Excellence: intense academic and organizational preparation the summer before […]

Most Inspiring Mission (LOCAL)

GIRLS IN THE GAME

To see a young girl believe in herself—well, there’s not much more inspiring than that. Chicago-based Girls in the Game aspires to make that moment happen for more young girls. “(Girls in the Game) inspired me to be a lawyer, because you have to be brave and strong,” says Paula, a participant for six years. […]

Most Improved Fundraising
This award recognizes the continual improvement of NFP fundraising efforts at the local and national levels. We are looking for effective fundraising growth from one year to the next, or one program run to the next.

GREAT LAKES ADAPTIVE SPORTS ASSOCIATION

GLASA’s Annual Twilight 5K Run, Walk and Roll isn’t your average race. Those with physical and visual disabilities are able to race side-by-side with able-bodied athletes and compete to achieve something they might not have thought possible. GLASA‘s motto, after all, is “Let No One Sit on the Sidelines.” Thanks to the hard work of […]

Education Nation
This award recognizes the best in education programs including programs that encourage teacher excellence, charter schools with innovative models, literacy interventions, after-school homework assistance programs, executive and study skills training programs, and earliest intervention programs for young developing minds.

INNOVATIONS FOR LEARNING

Student literacy is important to Seth Weinberger, executive director of Innovations for Learning, but he thinks it should be important to everyone. “It’s horrifying, the odds of you going to jail are just so incredible if you don’t learn to read by third grade,” he says. “We are dooming millions of kids every year by […]

Fundraising Innovation

PROJECTMUSIC

ProjectMusic was founded by the Michelson family of Glencoe—Dan, Kim, Emma (12) and Ian (10)— to raise money to fund summer camp experiences for LYDIA Home Association orphans. One hundred percent of the funds are raised by an annual concert and from other efforts are spent on camp fees. “We are motivated by the Martha […]

Most Inspiring Mission (NATIONAL)

SPARK PROGRAM

In junior high, you might not have known what path your career would take, but chances are, you had adult role models you could emulate. But what if you had never met an architect, lawyer, chef or production designer? That’s where Spark comes in. They take kids from underserved communities and match them with an […]