5 Wonderful Reasons To Give For Independent Futures

As the holiday season approaches, we are reflecting on a year of growth at Center for Independent Futures. Looking back on the year, we want to thank each of you for your support and suggest five reasons to add us to your year-end giving. Thanks to community members like you, the lives of more individuals with disabilities have been enriched and the reach of our community has expanded.

#1: We Combat Isolation & Exclusion

Individuals with disabilities face social isolation at a much higher rate than others. Through our Change Champions project, we partner with public and private organizations like public libraries and YMCAs to create cultures of inclusion. Over the last year, this program has introduced several community institutions to the strengths that individuals with disabilities bring to the table.

#2: We bring Innovation into Classrooms through My Full Life™ 

woman leaning over to help student at a computerWe dream of a future where all individuals can share their gifts with the community of their choice. My Full Life™ is our innovative online solution to help teachers identify how students can reach their goals. With your continued commitment, educators access our innovative online curriculum to train life skills and identify the strengths individuals can bring into their communities.

#3: Our New Futures Initiative™ brings Hope to Hundreds

Challenges concerning housing and independent living support persist for individuals with disabilities everywhere. Our family-guided New Futures Initiative™ housing approach gives hope to groups across the country. From California to Canada, you help us make a difference in hundreds of lives.

#4: We Strive to Fill the Gap

In the state of Illinois, opportunities for people with disabilities continue to be underfunded year after year. The need for community-based solutions is greater than ever. With your help, we hope to help fill the gap that is created by diminishing state funding. Our robust activities and events calendar provides support for individuals with a variety of interests, including our whole community.

#5: We Are Committed to Person-Centered Solutions

Since our founding in 2002, Center for Independent Futures has been focused on the individual. We have always started at square one by asking each participant, “What are your hopes & dreams?” Thanks to supporters like you, we continue to be leaders in person-centered approaches today.

Adam poses with friends he has made through Center for Independent Futures

We have a lot to look forward to in 2019, including welcoming more family groups to New Futures Initiative training and sharing My Full Life™ with more schools and agencies throughout the country. We are dedicated to helping families live with greater peace of mind and sharing our resources with community leaders. With such a big year coming up, we know we will need your help. Please consider making a year-end contribution to Center for Independent Futures today.

#GivingTuesday and #ILGive a Success!

At Center for Independent Futures, we feel honored to be part of such a generous community, especially after #GivingTuesday and #ILGive! Because of each of you spreading the word and donating, we were able to surpass our donation goals!

#GivingTuesday and #ILGive

Giving Tuesday image of woman laughing in purple striped shirtOn Tuesday, November 27th, countries around the world celebrated #GivingTuesday. In Illinois, we also participate in #ILGive, an initiative from Forefront that hopes to show Illinois is one of the most generous states in America. This year was a big year for their #ILGive project: registered Illinois nonprofits raised $1,720,107 in just 24 hours from 6,902 donors!

While #GivingTuesday was a very big day for nonprofits across the world, it was also a huge success for Center for Independent Futures. Our community helped us raise $24,038 from just under 100 contributors! We not only surpassed our $20,000 goal – we also raised about $8,000 more than we have in previous years.

The funds raised through #GivingTuesday contribute to the services and activities we are able to provide to our participants, like heARTwords, where members are encouraged to express themselves through writing prompts. Activities and services like heARTwords provide a sense of community to this community that too often feels lonely and excluded. Your support truly makes a difference and helps us continue providing a sense of belonging to our participants.

Matching Grant for #GivingTuesday

Man smiling in a baseball cap with bracelets on with #GivingTuesday and #ILGive imageryAs if raising more than $24,000 in one day wasn’t exciting enough, we were also offered a matching grant opportunity. For every donation of $175 or more, we received an additional $175 thanks to the Coleman Foundation. As a result, Center for Independent Futures will receive an additional $10,000!

With your help, we raised a total of $34,038 on November 27th! That makes this year our most successful #GivingTuesday yet, and it is all thanks to you, our wonderful community. We cannot thank you enough for your generosity during this giving season.

There Is Still Time To Give!

Did you forget to give on #GivingTuesday and #ILGive? That’s okay! There is still time to give this year. If you want to make a year-end gift to Center for Independent Futures, please contact Niki Moe Horrell or call our office at (847) 328-2044.

Funds Raised By New Trier Cross Country Team

For the past couple of years, the New Trier Cross Country boys team has hosted a fundraiser benefitting Center for Independent Futures. For this fundraiser, the team reached out to their families and friends for pledges based on their running. By the end, the team raised $6,023 for full, independent lives!

Why Center for Independent Futures

New Trier Cross Country team holds up New Trier flagDave Wisner has been Head Coach of the Varsity team for twelve years. In that time, many students with intellectual or developmental disabilities have been part of his cross country team. Dave said that the team always benefitted from having a diverse group of students participating, but they wondered what happened to students with disabilities when they aged out of transition programs at age 22.

Team captains Charlie Forbes, Cameron Chang, Graeme Lane, and Luke Wisner looked into where their teammates went after they aged out, and they discovered Center for Independent Futures. Captains discussed options with the team. The team ultimately decided to donate the money they raised to us because we are a local organization, and they can see the direct impact their hard work had in the community.

The funds raised by the boys New Trier cross country team are designated for our scholarship funds. These funds are used to broaden access to our programs, like life skills tutoring, which helps individuals with disabilities live independently in the community.

Matching Donations for Scholarships

Thanks to a major supporter and a longtime believer in Center for Independent Futures, these funds are being met with a matching grant. This generous donor has committed to a $25,000 matching grant for funds earmarked for our scholarship funds. All donations designated for scholarships will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000.

For more information about the New Trier cross country fundraiser or the matching grant, please reach out to Niki Moe by email or at (847) 328-2044.

Congratulations to Chicago Marathon Team!

About a year ago, eighteen members of our growing community signed up for the challenge of a lifetime: running the Chicago Marathon. On Sunday, October 7th, our charity team completed this challenge, bringing home their medals and accomplishments. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon charity team raises funds for their respective charities in return for guaranteed entry to the race, and Team CIF did not disappoint!

Race Day Nutrition: Pasta Party

On Friday before the race, we hosted a pasta party for our runners. Courtesy of Olive Garden at Lincolnwood, the runners were able to fill up on pasta, breadsticks, and salad in order to carb load before the big day.

Several members of the marathon team joined us, including some families, and we were joined by staff, Community Builders, and participants as well. We love hosting this pasta party for just this reason. It’s the perfect opportunity for the runners to meet our loving community and see who their fundraising supports.

Charity Block Party Cheer Team

On Sunday, while the team got ready to run, six participants and a few staff members got ready to cheer them on! We set up a tent and made signs for the runners on mile 14 along the Charity Block Party.

As runners passed, we offered them carbs in the form of pretzels and mini bagels, plus sugary energizers like gummy bears. When our team members ran past, we cheered as loud as we could! It was a long, rainy day in Chicago, but we didn’t let that stop us from supporting our wonderful 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon charity team!

Still Time to Contribute to Team CIF!

The team set a goal of raising $1,000 per runner, and by Monday morning, they had raised $13,657! That’s 76% of the team’s $18,000 goal! But you can still help push them over the edge. The team has until November 30th to raise the last bit of their funds. You can donate to the team on their CrowdRise page.

We also have one more team fundraiser this week! On Tuesday, October 9th, you can visit Potbelly from 5:00-8:00 to donate 25% of your purchase to Team CIF. All you have to do is go to the Potbelly at 630 Davis St. and tell your cashier you want to support Center for Independent Futures.

Always Wanted to Run a Marathon?

Part of 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon charity team waves as they pass the Charity Block PartyYou’re in luck! Team CIF has been granted another 18 slots for our 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon charity team! We walk our marathon team through each step of the process, including monthly check-ins throughout the year and tools for fundraising. Plus, you get access to our team pasta party, a group of folks cheering you on, and the opportunity to be part of this wonderful community.

Contact Connor Larsen at clarsen@independentfutures.com or (847) 328-2044 to learn more.

Find Out How to Celebrate Giving Tuesday!

Two light-skinned hands holding a red heart against a dark grain wood backgroundDid you know Center for Independent Futures takes part in Giving Tuesday? Find out how to celebrate Giving Tuesday with us this year!

Thanksgiving week is packed with great opportunities to treat yourself these days. Starting with great meals and lots of family time, Thanksgiving kicks off a week of fun. Next, many of us enjoy Black Friday for the deals, and local shoppers celebrate Small Business Saturday. On Monday, we search the web for more deals, and then we can all turn to our community on #GivingTuesday.

How to Celebrate Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, November 27th, we are participating in #GivingTuesday through #ILGive. This is an initiative by Forefront to make Illinois one of the most generous states in the U.S. Donate to Center for Independent Futures on November 27th to show your support for Illinois nonprofits!

With your support, we know we can meet our goal of $20,000 on #GivingTuesday.

Bold word "Give" centered in photo near glasses and pencils. Plus, The Coleman Foundation will donate $175 for every gift of $175 or more! That means that if you donate $175, your gift is worth $350 for Center for Independent Futures. If you donate $500, your gift is worth $675! However, all gifts eligible for the matching dollars must be donated online.

Every dollar donated in honor of independent futures means we can continue to support individuals with disabilities and their full lives. You can help us create a future where individuals with disabilities have equitable access to the opportunities of a full life.

Final Stretch for Marathon Runners

Collection of photos of past runnersOf most common exercises, running can wreak the most havoc on a person’s body. As your feet strike the pavement, the shock of impact travels up your leg, affecting the delicate bones in your feet, putting stress on your knee joints, and invoking pain in your hips.

But that isn’t stopping our team of 18 Chicago Marathon runners. Mile after mile, our team members will be running for the hopes and dreams of individuals with disabilities who hope for a future where they can live independently. Our runners have been working hard all year to prepare for a 26.2 mile challenge. In the final stretch for marathon runners, they need your support.

Here’s How You Can Help

  • Help the team reach their fundraising goal of $18,000! This is our biggest goal yet, and our runners need your help! Go to CrowdRise and click the big red button on the right side to donate. You can also donate to individual team members by clicking on their name at the bottom of the page.
  • Let our runners know they have your support! If you have run a marathon before, or if you want to share encouragement, let the team know. Reach out to Connor, and she will pass on your words of encouragement to the team. Knowing you appreciate their hard work and dedication may be the boost they need to keep going!
  • Join us at the Charity Mile Block Party! Cheer on the team with Center for Join our support team during the final stretch for runnersIndependent Futures participants, staff, and Board members as our runners pass Mile 15. The Cheer Team enjoys breakfast and camaraderie – let Connor know if you want more information about joining us at the Block Party.

Ready to Join the Support Team?

If you have any questions or ideas about supporting the final stretch for Marathon team, call the office at (847) 328-2044 or email Connor today!

Buy Dinner to Support Chicago Marathon Team

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is coming at us fast! Our eighteen person team is busy training and fundraising their $1,000 minimum, but we want to help them as much as we can! So we are hosting two fundraisers at restaurants in Evanston! Read more for the details..

Chipotle Fundraiser

Chipotle fundraiser flyerFirst up, visit the Chipotle at 711 Church St. in Evanston on Tuesday, September 11th! From 4-8 pm, you can buy dinner for yourself and your family or friends. As an added bonus, a whole 33% of the proceeds will benefit our Chicago Marathon team!

Bring in your phone with this post to make sure the donation goes to Center for Independent Futures. Show the cashier this flyer, and they will take care of everything else!

Potbelly Fundraiser

Then, on Tuesday, October 9th, Potbelly will be hosting a fundraiser to benefit the team just after the Marathon is over.  25% of the proceeds will be donated to our Marathon team’s efforts from 5-8 pm. Visit the location at 630 Davis St. to participate!

Just mention the fundraiser, and you are all set! Potbelly will forward your support for our marathon runners!

What Other Ways Can You Support the Team?

Are you looking for other ways to support Team CIF? Check out this blog post where you can donate to our current team members, or put the Marathon on your calendar! We will be cheering on our runners from the Charity Block Party all morning, and we would love to have you join us!

If you are interested in running the 2019 Chicago Marathon, let us know! We will be looking for team members starting in late October or early November.

Want to find out more? Email Connor Larsen with your question, and she will get back to you as soon as possible.

Save the Date: Something’s Cooking 2018

Two participants attend Something's Cooking, smiling at eventOur favorite fall activity is just around the corner! On Sunday, November 4th, join us at the Woman’s Club of Evanston from 3:00-6:00 pm for Something’s Cooking. We will be joined by the North Shore’s favorite local restaurants, bakeries, and breweries for a tasty evening with delightful treats! Mark your calendars today to guarantee you won’t miss out on this fun fall favorite!

We are looking forward to the signature dishes available to sample, giving us all a taste of Chicago and the North Shore’s best offerings. From pasta to pizza and tacos to cupcakes, a ticket to Something’s Cooking provides you the opportunity to find some new favorites! Plus, don’t miss the event’s silent auction for the chance to place the winning bid on some excellent items.

How Can You Help Out?

Want to help us prepare at this fun event? Volunteers help us plan and run the event while taking part in all the fun! To learn more about available volunteer opportunities, contact Jamie Annenberg by email or call the office at (847) 328-2044. We are also seeking community businesses to support our silent auction. Contact Niki Moe Horrell or call the office number to learn more about this business opportunity.

Something's Cooking attendees smiling in front of barAs always, all funds raised at Something’s Cooking will go toward continuing to support our vision of a future where all people have access to the opportunities of a full, independent life. Watch for more blogs about Something’s Cooking to learn about our featured partners, restaurant partners at the event, and a link to buy tickets online in a new, streamlined format.

Thank you to our sponsors who make Something’s Cooking and our other events possible every year! Once again, we also want to thank our wonderful community for coming out to support the hopes and dreams of our participants every year.

Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund Created

Individuals with disabilities should have access to all the opportunities that a full, independent life offers. To achieve that access, many individuals need support from organizations like Center for Independent Futures. But what happens when a family can’t afford those services?

A Journey to Community Support

Arnie Schumer and his sister, Karen Berkowsky, could not afford the services provided by Center for Independent Futures, but they knew it was the right fit for Arnie. Through a scholarship fund, we were able to offer Arnie services that supported his needs and provided access to independent living. Before Arnie passed away last May, Arnie had been a part of our community since 2007.

Arnie was a caring, generous person, and Center for Independent Futures helped him further develop his existing skills and talents. Because of the impact this support had on her brother’s life, Karen decided the best way to honor him would be to help others get the support they need, too.

Karen started by taking Arnie’s story to a group called Women Giving Back. Each year, this group of generous women gathers to hear about three local charities three to four times. Then they vote on the story that they would like to support. The winning charity receives a donation from each voting member.

Ann & Megan receiving initial check from Women Giving BackWhen Karen presented her family’s story, it touched many hearts, and also received the most votes. The total donation received was a wonderful gift of $5,550. We will use the donations from Women Giving Back to start a hopefully long-standing scholarship fund in Arnie’s memory. The scholarship dollars from the Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund will be given to qualifying individuals with disabilities and families who need financial help to pay for Center for Independent Futures’ services.

How You Can Help Others Like Arnie

Along with Arnie’s sister, we are reaching out to our community to help provide the same opportunity that Arnie had to others who need it. If you want to donate to the Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund, you may write a check to Center for Independent Futures or donate online. To donate online, click the purple “Donate” button on our website. Once the Paypal Donation window opens,  enter the amount you want to donate and include “Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund” in the “In Honor of” box.

Everyone deserves access to a full, independent life. The Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund is one more step toward creating access for all.

Finding Community Through the Chicago Marathon

Elizabeth runs in the Chicago Marathon in a bright yellow tank top, waving at supporters near the Charity MileWhen running has been part of someone’s life for a long time, the next logical step might seem like completing a marathon — 26.2 miles of feet hitting the pavement and sweat dripping down your face. A ton of hard work goes into getting ready for a marathon. You might find yourself asking, “Why would anyone put themselves through a marathon?”

A familiar face many members of our community will recognize has an answer. Elizabeth Male began running at about age 10, and she completed her first half marathon in high school. She completed her first Chicago Marathon in 2012. This experience running leads you to believe she has always loved the sport, but Elizabeth used to hate running.

It wasn’t until she was in college that she started to enjoy running. “When I ran in college, it helped me balance my mental health and de-stress from classes,” Elizabeth says. This will be Elizabeth’s sixth time running the Marathon, partly because she enjoys the challenge but also because of the community she has developed.

Running the Chicago Marathon

In 2014, Elizabeth ran the Chicago MarathonElizabeth stands with another woman post-marathon in a heat sheet and running gear, demonstrating finding community. as part of Team CIF for the first time. The introduction of the lottery system meant she could secure guaranteed entry to the race by running for a charity. Luckily, Elizabeth had access to a great team at her fingertips. She took over planning for the team and decided to join the team to help with motivating other runners.

For Elizabeth, running as part of Team CIF is about the community she is part of. This year, she made the commitment to run the marathon before leaving her job at Center for Independent Futures. It has been an exciting way for her to remain involved after finding community. Elizabeth says, “I miss everybody, and I’m happy to be able to stay involved.”

Tips for Fellow Marathon Runners

One of the team’s most experienced runners, Elizabeth has advice for team members, plus anyone interested in joining next year. “The journey will be full of hard work, but it’s about achieving a challenging goal.” While having more experience running long distances might make this race less daunting, Elizabeth avoids falling into a trap by remaining motivated. No matter how many marathons she has run, Elizabeth needs to do the work like everyone else.

Elizabeth poses in front of Chicago skyline in orange tank top with her medal after Chicago MarathonAt the moment, Elizabeth is training for a race in July, and then she will begin preparing for the Chicago Marathon. She is looking forward to the race, especially getting to the Charity Mile, where our core group of participants and friends will be waiting to cheer on Team CIF! You can help Elizabeth meet her $1,500 fundraising goal by going to her CrowdRise team page and clicking the big red “Donate Now” button.

If you are interested in joining the 2019 team, reach out to Connor Larsen at (847) 328-2044 or by email. It’s never too early to think about your own hopes and dreams!

Success Stories

thu13dec6:00 pmthu8:00 pmAnime Club

fri14dec6:00 pmfri8:00 pmLadies' Night

sun16dec11:00 amsun12:15 pmBowling

mon17dec5:00 pmmon6:00 pmBook Club

mon17dec6:00 pmmon8:00 pmArt Club

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