A cool Chicago morning, April 22, 1991. A group of 50 friends gather in Lincoln Park to celebrate Earth Day by doing volunteer clean-up.

With this initial project, Chicago Cares was born.

A collaboration between Leslie Bluhm and Mary Prchal, Chicago Cares began as a way to connect volunteers to meaningful service in the city of Chicago. Their goals for creating volunteer opportunities were simple:

  1. Make it easy
  2. Make it realistic
  3. Make the biggest impact

Armed with a donated office space, their backgrounds in law and advertising, and a few contacts in the Rolodex; Leslie and Mary began to craft the vision of Chicago Cares. Now, 20 years later, Chicago Cares is building stronger communities through our unique approach to volunteerism.

Chicago Cares co-founder, Leslie Bluhm with Mayor Daley; Serve-a-thon 1997

What began as a few friends gathering to celebrate Earth Day, has blossomed into an organization that supports more than 215 original group volunteer projects each month; serving children, adults and seniors in need, as well as the environment.

We engage tens of thousands in service to meet Chicago’s critical needs, creating group programs where volunteers learn about the issues in their community and play an active role in address them. Through volunteer service, Chicago Cares enables, educates and inspires people to make Chicago a better community for everyone.

We’re excited to celebrate this milestone with our staff, board, sponsors, community partners and volunteers. We thank each of you for using your skills and resources to improve the lives of countless Chicagoans.

Twenty years of service is a big accomplishment, but we know that there is still more to be done! That’s why, as we look forward to the next 20, we’re enhancing our efforts by giving volunteers a better understanding of community issues in order to inspire and enable more service leadership to address critical issues throughout Chicago.

At Chicago Cares, we’re grateful for where we’ve been and we’re excited about where we’re going. We hope you’ll join us in looking ahead, to a bright future for Chicago!

You can make a difference in Chicago.
Visit www.chicagocares.org to find out how.