2015 Chicago Charity Challenge Award Winners



Chicago Charity Challenge Awards Grand Prize to Kolcraft and its Charity Partner March of Dimes for Exceptional 2015 Giving Partnership

Chicago, IL—February 29, 2016 — The Chicago Charity Challenge, (www.chicagochacha.org) the nation’s foremost charitable organization that makes giving a team sport, named the winners of the 2015 Charity Challenge during its second annual awards ceremony on February 26, 2016, honoring the generous employees from 23 Chicago-area companies for donating the most money and volunteering the most hours to their favorite local charities.

The Charity Challenge’s Grand Prize Give Back Award was given to Kolcraft and its charity partner, March of Dimes for Kolcraft’s exceptional achievement in engaging employees and advancing the mission of March of Dimes.

Other winners in this first-of-its-kind citywide initiative include:

  • Issue Impact Award: Latham & Watkins – Do the Write Thing
  • Community Impact Award: Mesirow Financial – Brighton Park Neighborhood Council
  • Philanthropy Award: Chicago Fire Soccer Club – Chicago Fire Foundation
  • Helping Hand Award: Associated Agencies – The Jarrett Payton Foundation

(See details of each Challenger team’s efforts below).

In 2015, more than 4,500 employee philanthropists from 23 businesses, collectively raised more than $14 million and volunteered 46,000 hours to aid critical causes impacting Chicago. The 2015 teams raised twice as much money and contributed twice as much time as 2014 teams.

“We are overwhelmed by and deeply grateful to all the Challenge teams for what they accomplished in 2015. Their generosity, dedication and compassion shone through as they gave their all to build healthier, safer and stronger Chicagoland communities,” said Stacey Rago, Executive Director, Chicago Charity Challenge. “I can’t wait to see how our teams raise the bar in the 2016 Charity Challenge!”

In 2015, Challenge teams addressed issues such as hunger, homelessness, violence, education, health, and youth and family services. “The Charity Challenge presents an uncommon opportunity for coworkers to grasp an issue, collectively build a multi-tiered relationship with a nonprofit, and make a deep impact. Employees are invested together for a common cause. It’s all about teamwork, and it’s fun,” said Rago.

Challenge awards are determined, in part, by team data collected using GiveTrak™, a proprietary measurement tool that allows companies to track and report their employees’ volunteer time and donations in real time. The winning teams’ charity partners received prize money, made possible thanks to the generous support of Chicago Charity Challenge sponsors:

  • Call One
  • MB Financial Charitable Foundation
  • BKD, LLP CPAs & Advisors
  • Mandell Menkes, LLC
  • The Foster Charitable Trust

Chicago Charity Challenge Winners’ Achievements

Grand Prize Give Back Award – Kolcraft and March of Dimes

Kolcraft performance stood out from the crowd, as they spread awareness for the March of Dimes’ mission, raised money to support research to prevent prematurity and birth defects, and volunteered to improve the plight of families caring for critically ill newborns.

Its Twitter parties to spread essential information on how to maintain a healthy pregnancy touched over 80,000 followers, increasing the March of Dimes online reach by eightfold. In addition, Kolcraft’s 71 employees also raised over $41,000 for the March of Dimes in its Lakefront Walk and through a variety of creative in-office events, including a carnival-themed internal competition. The company and employees donated another $300,000-plus to other organizations dedicated to the health and safety of babies, including the Jackson Chance Foundation and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Kolcraft not only had 100% employee participation in Challenge activities, but also doubled their volunteer hours as compared with 2014’s competition.

Community Impact Award – Mesirow Financial and Brighton Park Neighborhood Council

For the greatest impact on a low- to moderate-income geographic community, Mesirow Financial employees worked as a group to cultivate deep, broad-based initiatives and to nurture genuine relationships with the residents served by Brighton Park Neighborhood Council. Devoting 855 hours and more than $50,000 to the Council, Mesirow’s team donated school supplies to 500 students, sponsored an art contest for 150 middle schoolers, gave theater tickets to 100 youth, provided Thanksgiving meals for 45 families and led a Field Day for 250 campers.

Issue Impact Award – Latham & Watkins and Do the Write Thing

For the greatest impact on a social issue, 316 employees at Latham & Watkins worked to build stronger families by addressing violence and other barriers to education and well-being through their partnership with Do the Write Thing, an organization that works with inner city students to examine, through writing, the impact of violence in their lives and to make personal commitments to help reduce violence in their communities. Employees donated $9.25 million in money and the value of their services, and contributed 13,560 volunteer hours as well. Additionally, members of Latham’s IT department spent 400 hours creating a new website for this primary initiative of the National Campaign to Stop Violence.

Helping Hand Award – Associated Agencies and The Jarrett Payton Foundation

For the most time per employee volunteered for their charity partner, suburban insurance agency Associated Agencies contributed an average of 4.4 volunteer hours per employee to help The Jarrett Payton Foundation spread its anti-bullying message. Founded by the son of the late great Walter Payton, the Foundation’s mission is to protect young people from the trauma of bullying and to teach students to honor their differences. Associated Agencies employees, including Jarrett’s wife Trisha Payton, participated in and helped run every fundraiser, including a golf outing, their Strike Against Bullying bowling event, and a Bag the Bullies bean-bag tournament.

Philanthropy Award – Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Chicago Fire Foundation

For the most money per employee raised for their charity partner, the staff of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club raised $301 qualifying dollars per employee and a total of $160,000 for the Chicago Fire Foundation. Each member of its 65-person staff contributed either time or money to the Foundation’s efforts to enhance the lives of disadvantaged youth through holistic sports-based initiatives. Its donations funded programs like U.S. Premier Skills, a soccer program that operates on the border of two rival gang territories in the Little Village neighborhood. By reclaiming public space to promote healthy group activity, research showed the area nearby benefited from a 50 percent drop in crime.

Special Recognitions

In addition to the sponsored awards offered as part of the competition, the staff at the Chicago Charity Challenge also decided to honor four additional teams that, while not meeting the criteria necessary to win, still stood out from the crowd.

Contributing $1.6 million and 7,800 hours to nonprofits in 2015, Paul Hastings law firm supported its charity partner Christopher House, and proved to be excellent skills-based volunteer advocates for some of Chicago’s most vulnerable residents.

Harley Davidson Financial Services also received special recognition for the strong and supportive relationship built with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless since the inception of the Chicago Charity Challenge in 2014.

Two teams tied as the Challenge Rookie of the Year: Astellas Pharma and charity partner Have Dreams, and Deloitte and charity partner Anixter Center. Both joined the Charity Challenge for the first time this year and quickly made their mark on vulnerable populations being served by the Chicagoland nonprofit community.

Register Now for 2016 Chicago Charity Challenge

The Chicago Charity Challenge is enlisting more corporate teams for the 2016 Challenge. Join us by registering your company today at https://www.chicagochacha.org/sign-up/sign-up-challenge/.

To request interviews with the participating company teams about how the Chicago Charity Challenge has made a difference to the community and Chicagoland employees, or for a list of all Challengers and their charity partners, email jill@michelledamico.com.

About Chicago Charity Challenge

The Chicago Charity Challenge is a nonprofit volunteer and fundraising competition that teams businesses with charities to motivate, support, and reward employee giving. Employees work together throughout the year to support causes and win monetary awards for their charity partner.  Sponsors include Call One, MB Financial Charitable Foundation, BKD CPA’s & Advisors, Mandell Menkes LLC, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, the Chicago Tribune and Michelle Damico Communications. For more information, go to http://www.ChicagoChaCha.org or follow Chicago Charity Challenge on Twitter @ChicagoChaCha, on Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo.