Chicago in the late 1800’s saw an explosive growth in immigration along with increasing prosperity of Chicago’s middle and upper classes. 13 educated and influential women, excluded from important careers at the time, began to use their talents to realize a powerful force for change in their communities.
Cook County Hospital 1946
Cook County Hospital 1946
LaSalle Street Station 1946
In 1890, they began their work with a modest sewing circle, creating garments for the children of the Stock Yards and the University Settlement.
By 1894, the women were fully incorporated as “The Service Club,” and their motto, “No one is greater than the service she renders the world,” was adopted.
Soon the sewing circles were abandoned, and The Service Club’s focus became giving stipends to individuals and families, especially immigrants. Bazaars, the sale of a Service Club cookbook, and an annual revue helped fund these first grants.
KEEPING COSTS LOW
In the early 1920’s many charity organizations became professionalized. However, the members of The Service Club of Chicago stayed true to their roots, continuing as an all-female, all-volunteer organization. Low operating costs continued to ensure that the money raised would reach the most people possible.
FOCUS ON POLICY
In the following years, The Service Club’s Philanthropic Committee consciously shifted their focus and began giving grants to social service, medical and educational organizations to address root causes rather than small gifts to many individuals. This shift allowed Service Club to reach more people than ever before.
In 1938, The Service Club had grown to over 300 members, and reincorporated under the current name, “The Service Club of Chicago.” In the second half of the 20th century, The Service Club of Chicago once again expanded their reach and added cultural organizations to this list.
FUNDRAISING AND PARTNERSHIPS
In the early years, supporters were often first introduced to our mission through “fun”draising events such as the Bal Musique featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Stadium Spectacle with the Harlem Globetrotters. Today, fundraising has expanded to include Individual Giving, Institutional Giving and Legacy Gifts.
Since 1890, The Service Club of Chicago has allocated thousands of grants to Chicagoland agencies. The goals, determination and mission have not changed in over 130 years. Today, The Service Club of Chicago continues to play a major role in the life of the city, and our grants directly impact approximately one million lives locally every year.