Chicago is known for its large activist community. Here are 12 non-profit organizations that could use your help.
Here at Secret Chicago, we care about giving back to the community, so we put together 12 non-profits doing great work in Chicago. We encourage you to donate to or volunteer at any of these great organizations or another cause you care about.
1. Howard Brown Health
Howard Brown Health is an LGBTQ+ focused healthcare organization with multiple clinic locations across Chicago. The nonprofit provides quality, affordable care to Chicagoans who might not be able to access it otherwise. Some of these services include primary care, AIDS/HIV care, reproductive healthcare, transgender and gender nonconforming healthcare, counseling, and much more. They also have a community center for homeless teens and youth, the Broadway Youth Center, which provides a number of important services to LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. You can support this organization by visiting howardbrown.org.
2. Assata’s Daughters
Assata’s Daughters, named after the civil rights activist Assata Shakur, is a Black women-led organization that mentors and organizes young Black people in Chicago to fight for Black liberation. Its programs provide political education, community organizing training, and assistance with everyday problems faced by the community including food insecurity, mental health resources, and career services. Assata’s Daughters also does public speaking, host events, and organizes direct actions to create positive social change. Its website has a myriad of resources on issues such as police brutality, community organizing, curriculums for teachers, and more. You can support this organization by visiting assatasdaughters.org.
3. Alliance for the Great Lakes
The Alliance for the Great Lakes works to preserve and protect the Great Lakes and its ecosystem. This organization has a number of projects all aimed at taking care of our lakes for today and years to come. In addition to raising awareness of water pollution and cleaning up beaches, the nonprofit has been successful in championing a federal ban on microbeads in personal care products, releasing important reports on the Lakes’ welfare, and fighting to keep Great Lakes water in the lakes. Last year, nearly 15,000 volunteers participated in the organization’s “Adopt-a-Beach” program! You can support this organization by visiting greatlakes.org
4. Greater Chicago Food Depository
The Greater Chicago Food Depository provides food to families and individuals struggling with food insecurity. The nonprofit has a number of food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters across Cook County to ensure that nutritious meals are available 365 days a year. GCFD also does community outreach to SNAP-eligible residents to make nutritious meals accessible to those who need it most. This organization is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic as many Chicagoans are experiencing a higher rate of food insecurity. You can support this organization by visiting chicagosfoodbank.org.
5. Chicago Public Library Foundation
Public libraries are one of the most important public services in the nation and Chicago’s 80-branch system is one of the best in the world. Chicago Public Libraries not only offer free books to check out, but also provide important services like job hunting, safe public spaces, language resources, free digital media, printing services, children’s programming, study rooms, and more!
Despite their importance, library funding is constantly on the chopping block. That’s where the Chicago Public Library Foundation comes in. They fund important programs and day-to-day operations of libraries with the help of donor contributions. You can support this organization by visiting cplfoundation.org.
RefugeeOne is an organization that helps refugees resettle in the US. The nonprofit offers immigration assistance, English language training, job hunting aid, and wellness programs. Every year, RefugeeOne helps more than 2,500 refugees and immigrants who are fleeing their homes due to violence, persecution, and war. The largest resettlement agency in IL, RefugeeOne is with refugees every step of the way from the moment they arrive at O’Hare International Airport. You can support this organization by visiting refugeeone.org.
7. American Indian Center
The American Indian Center is a community center that provides resources and programming to Native people living in Chicago. The AIC is the oldest urban-based native community organization and was founded in 1953 to help Native people cope after the Indian Relocation program transported thousands of Native Americans to Chicago, a city that did not have a large in-state reservation. Today the AIC provides academic, cultural, health, and social services to Native people as well as hosts a number of cultural events throughout the year. You can support this organization by visiting aicchicago.org
8. Transformative Justice Law Project
The Transformative Justice Law Project provides free legal services and educational resources to transgender and gender non-conforming Chicagoans. The nonprofit’s main focus is providing affirming, holistic criminal legal services including criminal defense, criminal record expungement, and advocacy for trans prisoners. TJLP also provides assistance with legal name changes and gender marker changes as part of its Name Change Mobilization program.You can support this organization by visiting tjlp.org.
9. PAWS Chicago
PAWS Chicago is a no-kill animal shelter and animal advocacy organization. The nonprofit not only assists with pet adoption and advocates for no-kill shelters, but it also provides resources to prevent animal homelessness, make spay and neutering accessible, and provides crisis aid. PAWS has multiple locations across Chicagoland. You can support this organization by visiting pawschicago.org.
10. Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless advocates for the wellbeing and advancement of those experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. Their main focus is fighting for public policies to eventually end homelessness such as increasing accessibility to public education, health care, public housing, and job opportunities. CCH also provides free legal services, community outreach, and college scholarships for students who do well in school despite their living situation. You can support this organization by visiting chicagohomeless.org.
826CHI is a chapter of 826National and is dedicated to inspiring ages six to 18 through creative and expository writing. 826CHI works in 114 Chicago schools, serving 48 zip codes with a staff of 287 volunteers. Its programs include a Teen Writing Studio, 826 Digital resources, field trips, afterschool tutoring, and student publications. You can support this organization by visiting 826chi.org or by shopping at the Secret Agent Supply Co in Wicker Park.
12. Meals on Wheels Chicago
Since 1987, Meals on Wheels Chicago has delivered food to seniors and those with disabilities. Many of the people the nonprofit serves face challenges that make food security difficult, such as mobility issues and/or lack of access to transportation. Meals on Wheels makes sure food is accessible regardless of age or ability. You can support this organization by visiting mealsonwheelschicago.org.
Thank you for taking the time to support nonprofits in Chicago. Do you have a favorite we didn’t list here? Let us know about it by tagging us on social media.
Feature photo by Kat Yukawa on Unsplash