Have you ever wondered how a Chicago Cares program starts? All programs start with an idea about how Chicago Cares volunteers could serve an organization and their clients. Next is a site visit where Chicago Cares staff meet with community partners to discuss their needs and figure out how Chicago Cares volunteers can help address those needs through an ongoing program. From that point, all programs need help from donors and volunteers in order to get them started. Children’s programs in particular require a large amount of support to get them off the ground.
At a visit with a potential children’s education site, we may learn that the community partner is unable to offer any structured programming to students, and we are able to meet this need by developing an academic or extracurricular program to encourage and inspire children as they grow into young adults. Or, we might be able to free up a couple hours of the activity director’s time twice a month by leading the after school activity for that day, so that he or she can concentrate on a grant proposal or developing a new program for clients.
For all of our children’s programs, we rely on volunteer leaders to facilitate the programs we develop and volunteers to provide individualized attention for the children. What we also rely on are the generous donations from volunteers, our corporate partners, and foundations. This funding helps purchase cooking supplies for Healthy Start, books for Read-with-Me, or a volleyball net for Sports League. It helps us purchase watercolors for Young Artists, magnifying glasses for Science Sleuths, and even helps us program coordinators travel to and from the sites we work with as we continuously meet with our community partners to learn how we can make our impact even greater.
Funding to Chicago Cares is far reaching. A donation’s impact does not end at the project it funds. Donating through our I Care campaign is a great way to support the programs where you volunteer. Chicago Cares projects are part of the after-school and wraparound services provided to students that have shown an increase in student attendance, academic success, social development and improved attitudes and behaviors. Chicago Cares is proud to be even a small part of the great successes our partners have had from enrichment programs and partnerships at their sites.
This year, Chicago Cares volunteers logged over 5,500 hours serving more than 1,000 children at our community partners. From tutoring to reading to art and games, Chicago Cares volunteers provide essential individual attention, support, and encouragement at a variety of programs. Please consider making a contribution to children’s programs at Chicago Cares so that we can continue to turn our site visits into successful ongoing education programs.