A donation of $1,000 to a nonprofit may not seem like a huge contribution. But, if 500 women get together and they each donate $1,000, they can make a really significant difference for organizations doing important work in the community. That is exactly how Impact 100 Chicago operates.

The organization is made up of 500 women who each donate $1,000 annually. At the end of each year, they award $100,000 “transformational impact” grants to deserving nonprofits.

“Each year I ask myself, how are we going to top that?” says Michele Polvere, co-founder of Impact 100 Chicago. “But each year it gets better and better.”

When Impact 100 Chicago started in 2010, the women’s first project was to build a greenhouse in Cabrini Green. Impact 100 Chicago has also worked to help fund shelter improvements for crisis centers such as A Safe Place in Lake County and Crisis Center for South Suburbia in Tinley Park.

No money is ever wasted. This year, with the increased membership, the suburban chapter was able to award the four non-profits who were runners-up for the high-impact grant with grants of $18,000 each. The Chicago chapter was able to award three high-impact grants of $100,000 each.

The suburban chapter awarded its high-impact grant to the Albany Park Theater Project (APTP). Based in Chicago, APTP not only inspires kids through art, but also teaches them the importance of social justice.

“This group mentors kids and will also let them explore urban education in Chicago,” Polvere says.

The theater project’s upcoming production “Learning Curve” focuses on the plight of urban education in the city of Chicago. In his acceptance speech, David Feiner, APTP artistic director, said he and all of the staff at APTP were honored to be the first-ever cultural organization to receive the chapter’s Impact Grant

“We promise that your investment in Albany Park Theater Project will truly make a difference in the world and we can’t wait to share ‘Learning Curve’ with you in 2016,” Feiner said.

Photo courtesy of Y.O.U.

Photo courtesy of Y.O.U.

Youth Organizations Umbrella (Y.O.U.) was one of the runners-up to receive a grant for $18,000. The youth development agency helps to provide out-of-school programs for kids and assist families.

Accepting the grant on behalf of Y.O.U., Executive Director Seth Green thanked the women of Impact 100 calling them thoughtful and invested.

“Thanks to their grant, we are building a new headquarters and youth center, plus a demonstration kitchen so kids can learn about cooking and nutrition skills,” Green said.

As Impact 100 continues to expand, the group is considering establishing a chapter the northern suburbs, where many of its current members already reside. If you are interested in becoming a member, visit www.impact100chicago.org.


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