New at SPARK: Golden Tickets & Live Auction Prizes

Every year before SPARK, we are so excited to announce the fabulous live auction packages available to our guests for bidding. Today, we are announcing the five prizes attendees will be able to bid on, plus a thrilling new way to experience SPARK!

Introducing the Golden Ticket

For the first time, we will be offering Golden Tickets to our community! Golden Tickets are a new way to participate in our favorite night of the year. There will only be 150 Golden Tickets sold, so you know what your chances of winning are! If you purchase a Golden Ticket, please make sure that you have selected your prize at the time of purchase. Winners need not be present to win. Each Golden Ticket is $100, and the prize is something special!

The winner of our Golden Ticket drawing will get to choose from the live auction prizes before any bidding even starts! If you win the raffle, you will receive the prize you choose at time of purchase, and that prize will be removed from the live auction. Are you ready to find out your options?

SPARK 2019 Live Auction Packages

From golfers to travelers to art lovers, we have a winning package for anyone’s interests. Don’t miss out on your chance to secure the package you know you want – get your Golden Ticket today! And if you don’t win, there’s still a chance to win your item in the live auction. Check out the live auction prizes today.

Golfing With A Pro

You and a friend will join Hans Larson, PGA head professional, at Westmoreland Country Club, accompanied by member Jim McClure. Your day on the course will include 18 holes of golf, caddies, tips & playing lessons from Hans, and lunch. Date to be mutually agreed upon among all parties.

Magnificent Views in Costa Rica

Enjoy a weeklong vacation at Villa Vista Magnifica in Costa Rica, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and gorgeous beaches Playa Prieta and Playa Penca. Villa Vista Magnifica is a 5 bedroom, 5.5 bath villa staffed with 2 full-time employees. You and 9 of your friends can relax in luxury with such features as an outdoor shower, a private patio, an infinity edge pool, and an upstairs terrace view. Airfare not included; average airfare to Costa Rica is $450 per person. High season is from May through July.

Dinner With Easter Seals Vice President
Please join our Executive Director Ann Sickon & 8 other guests for a four-course gourmet dinner with fine wines in a newly renovated 1882 row house in Little Italy on a Friday or Saturday night this summer. Our hosts Tom LeClair and Carlyn Berghoff will prepare an amazing evening that also includes lively conversation on trending topics in the world of disabilities.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Four seats to your choice of two 2019 games decided upon in conjunction with the donor. These seats offer an extraordinary opportunity to experience Wrigleyville’s favorite team from premium seats only 10 rows behind home plate.

Rob Larson’s Water Lilies

Inspired by Claude Monet’s use of color and expressive brushstrokes, our own Rob Larson has created his own rendition of Water Lilies. Using oil on canvas, the painting celebrates the beautiful relationships found in nature through reflections in the pond and the flowering water lilies.

What Are You Waiting For?

Group enjoying games at Evanston fundraising event, SPARKTickets are on sale now! Early bird prices are available until March 31st, and then all ticket prices will increase by $25. While you’re getting tickets to SPARK, you can also purchase your Golden Ticket and Heads or Tails glamour glasses. Don’t forget to indicate which prize you’d like if you bought a Golden Ticket, and let us know your dinner choices too!

We can’t wait to see you at SPARK and start igniting dreams together!

Save the Date: SPARK 2019

Are you looking for a local Evanston fundraising event to support your community? Join on at the Hilton Orrington on Friday, April 26th for our signature spring event, SPARK!

What to Expect at SPARK!

4 individuals gather around an orange chair at SPARK.

At our annual spring party, we use this opportunity to celebrate our whole community, including Center for Independent Futures participants, families, employees, donors, and community partners. That means there will be dancing, dinner, and a lot of opportunity for fun!

The evening begins with reception and the chance to bid on some of Chicago and Evanston’s favorite stores, restaurants, and experiences, followed by dinner and a live auction. At last year’s live auction, winners took home a safari trip, concert tickets to Ed Sheeran and Elton John, a Chicago-style St. Patrick’s Day package, and more! Plus, you won’t want to miss our favorite game, Heads or Tails. Finish the evening by dancing your heart out to a favorite of ours, Euphoria Band!

Watch For More News

Group enjoying games at Evanston fundraising event, SPARKGo ahead and mark your calendars for SPARK today! Event invitations and online ticket sales will be available in early March. For more event information and updates, RSVP to SPARK on the Facebook event page.

All proceeds from SPARK, our largest Evanston fundraising event of the year, directly contribute to programming, services, and sustainability. If you are interested in supporting SPARK as a donor, sponsor, or partner, please contact Niki Moe or call (847) 328-2044 today!

Top 10 Hope-Filled Moments in 2018

2018 was a big year at Center for Independent Futures! From fun and glamorous events like SPARK to meeting new people at conferences around the country, this last year held a lot to be celebrated. Join us in remembering our top 10 moments of 2018!

#1: New Partnerships in CaliforniaLogo for Club 21 in red with blue and green people illustrations to the left.

Club 21, a California non-profit, asked us to present at their Tools For the Journey conference. It was exciting to get out of the chilly Midwest for a few days to share our tools & resources with the Club 21 community.

#2: Hosting Activities in Highland Park

We conducted a meet and greet session with Highland Park community members in March. Since then, we have started including the village in our activities calendar through monthly Gab and Grub dinners. It is exciting to meet members of new communities, and we can’t wait to continue!

#3: A Beautiful Evening at SPARK

5 friends dressed beautifully pose for group photo at SPARK.

In April, our annual gala event was a shining evening! Join us again this year on April 26th at the Hilton Orrington! We will have more live entertainment, the annual Awesome Awards, delicious food, and wonderful auction items for all.

#4: Dream Team Biked the Drive

A group of Bike Club members participated in Bike the Drive again this year! They raised almost $7,000 through their fundraising efforts and had a good time biking in the cloudy weather. We can’t wait for next May to ride Lake Shore Drive again!

#5: Presented at National Down Syndrome Conference

Chrissy & Cynthia at the National Down Syndrome ConferenceChrissy & Cynthia went down to Dallas, Texas, in July to present at the National Down Syndrome Conference. They rocked the presentation and made new connections! We appreciated having this opportunity to present to industry experts and families alike.

#6: Held 2 Summer Camp Options for Transition House Students

Our schools team hosted the annual Life Skills Camp in mid-July, in addition to a new summer camp opportunity. Thanks to the Evanston Community Foundation, we were able to provide a Transportation Camp for Evanston Township High School transition students.

#7: Guided Biggest Marathon Team Through Finish Line

On a rainy Sunday, 18 members of Team CIF completed one of the greatest challenges: completing 26.2 miles throughout the neighborhoods of Chicago. Thanks to our community and team, we raised over $16,000 through the Bank of America Chicago Marathon!

#8: Created Community Connections at Housing Conference

At our housing conference in October, we shared our New Futures Initiative and housing resources with over 100 people dedicated to change. We are thankful for each of our presenters, including our panelists, endnote speaker, and keynote speaker, Micaela Connery of The Kelsey. Watch for video of the day coming soon!

#9: Delicious Food & Good Times at Something’s Cooking

We ate to our hearts’ content at the Woman’s Club of Evanston in early November. Thank you to the 25 wonderful food, dessert, and beverage sponsors for supporting our annual fall favorite! We hope to see you all next year!

#10: Turned Hopes Into Reality on #GivingTuesday

Thanks to all of you, we surpassed our $20,000 #GivingTuesday goal! We also met the requirements to receive the full $10,000 match from the Coleman Foundation. That means we raised a total of over $34,000 with your help!

We are deeply grateful for our caring, generous community after such a big year! 2019 looks like it will be even bigger, so we hope that you will continue on this journey with Center for Independent Futures. If you would like to be part of our story, sign up for our monthly newsletter today and make a year-end gift to support inclusive communities in Evanston!

#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.

Something’s Cooking Celebration Highlights

5 volunteers smile at camera with orange table in foreground at Something's Cooking celebrationThank you to everyone who came to support Center for Independent Futures at our sixteenth annual Something’s Cooking celebration! From the music to the laughter – and, of course, the food – we enjoyed every last minute of the evening, thanks to all of you.

Wonderful Space and Support

This year’s fundraiser was our second being hosted by the Woman’s Club of Evanston. Their beautiful, historic building kept us sheltered from the rainy weather outside and made the evening a definite success. We couldn’t have had such a wonderful evening without the help of their amazing staff!

Exciting Prizes to Take Home

Board member and a volunteer draw names for raffle on stage at Something's Cooking celebrationInstead of a silent auction, we held a raffle this year, featuring eight grand prizes. From hand-painted Adirondack chairs and brand new bicycle to a weeklong stay at a cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains, these raffle prizes were items we definitely wished we could take home ourselves! After all, there’s nothing like a great Cubs game in Chicago or a relaxing, therapeutic care package.

Congratulations to each of the fabulous winners! Of course, thank you to the support of all who purchased raffle tickets to play along with us on Sunday as well. Your support never goes unnoticed!

Good Food and Great Company

Celtic Knot Public House employees serving food and waving at cameraLast, but certainly not least, we want to thank all of our phenomenal restaurant, beverage, and dessert sponsors. Something’s Cooking could not happen without all of you donating your delicious food, drinks, and time.

Did you miss Something’s Cooking? Check out what these restaurants provided below, and make sure to mark your calendars early next year!

See You Next Year!

We are already looking forward to next year’s Something’s Cooking celebration when we get to spend another lovely Sunday afternoon with our favorite people! For now, we are getting ready for #GivingTuesday and helping our community give back. To join us, learn more at bit.ly/CIF2018GT.

Restaurant List

Bagel Art Cafe: Assorted Bagel Bites

Celtic Knot Public House: Mini Shepherd Pie

Edzo’s Burger Shop: Nutella Shakes

Farmhouse: Baked Mac-n-Cheese

Firehouse Grill: Burger Bites, Veggie Sloppy Joe’s, Chicken & Waffle Sliders

Flat Top Grill: Chilled Edamame, Pot Stickers

Gigio’s Pizzeria: Sausage, cheese, and veggie pizzas

Koi: Vegetable Maki with Mango Sauce

La Macchina Cafe: Vegetarian and Meat Lasagnas

Lulu’s: Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles

Peckish Pig: Bacon Wrapped Dates

Table to Stix: Truffle Pecorino Smoke Pickle Onion Salmon

Taco Diablo: Corn Esquite with Queso Fresco and Chilipiquin

Ten Mile House: Vegetarian Mediterranean Bruschetta

That Little Mexican Cafe: Shrimp Empanadas, Pork Taquitos

Trattoria D.O.C.: Orecchiette con Spinaci

Join Chicago Marathon Team – 5 FAQ

A Team CIF runner smiling on the Chicago Marathon course 2018On October 13, 2019, thousands of dedicated runners will line up at Grant Park, ready to take on the Chicago Marathon course. Out of the thousands of runners, there are hundreds of generous marathon participants who sign up for guaranteed entry by choosing to support a charity team.

We have put together a frequently asked questions blog about our Chicago Marathon team. If you’ve ever thought about running a marathon — or know someone else who has — take a look! Even if this opportunity isn’t for you, please help us spread the word! Forward this blog to your friends, family, and coworkers to let them know about this chance to be part of a Chicago tradition.

What is the Chicago Marathon?

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is an opportunity for runners around the world to achieve a remarkable feat: running 26.2 miles through many of Chicago’s unique neighborhoods. Runners sign up in late October and November, and then they train hard to complete the course in under 6.5 hours.

Can My Family and Friends Watch Me Run?

Of course! There is room for spectators along the whole course, but Mile 15 is really where the party’s at. At Mile 15, there is the Charity Block Party, where cheerleaders from charity partners like Center for Independent Futures will be waiting to cheer on our team — and all the other runners, of course! Your friends and family are always welcome to join us at the block party!

What Are the Team Requirements?

At Center for Independent Futures, we only ask that our Team CIF runners meet the minimum fundraising amount required by the Bank of America Chicago Marathon organizers. That means each runner will be asked to raise $1,250 to support the hopes and dreams of individuals with disabilities.

What Team Supports Do You Offer?

When you join Team CIF, you are becoming part of a community. We will help you every step of the way from working on individualized fundraising ideas to helping you remember important steps. Plus, you will have the chance to join the Chicago Area Runners Association at a discounted rate because you are running with us.

How Do I Sign Up?!

It’s easy! Just email team coordinator Connor Larsen and let her know you want to join the team! She will walk you through the two-step registration process and make sure you are registered to the team. Then Connor will help you get set up with fundraising tools and training tips throughout the following year to make your Chicago Marathon course successful. Don’t wait to claim your spot – there are only 15 left!

Opportunities for Continuing Education for Adults

Offering continuing education for adults is important to the growth of an inclusive community. That’s why Center for Independent Futures was proud to offer three opportunities to expand horizons last week. Together, we learned from an expert on sexual education and from individuals with disabilities, creating opportunities for new perspectives.

Changing How “Intelligence” Is Defined

On Sunday, October 21st, we were happy to offer a free screening of Dan Habib’s new film Intelligent Lives. On this crisp autumn day, we gathered with members of the Evanston community and beyond to share how we think of intelligence.

A father and son laugh together. The words "The IQ test told us nothing about my child's potential" are in front of brown background.There are nine different, commonly recognized types of intelligence. These different types range from traditional ideas of intelligence, like mathematical-logical thinking and linguistics. However, this idea also includes types of intelligence like interpersonal and existential intelligences.

Intelligent Lives tackles this idea by following the lives of three individuals with disabilities who have received low IQ test scores, yet they are able to thrive in their full, busy lives. Each of these individuals has a different type of intelligence that helps them succeed. Micah, for example, has high interpersonal intelligence and is great with people; Naieer has spatial intelligence that informs his art.

Many of the film screening attendees shared that they enjoyed the film. One young man left the film and, feeling empowered, he told us, “I could be like Naieer or Micah. I could go to school or live on my own like them.”

Reflecting on Sex Education for People With Disabilities

White letters on blue background says Know More. White text on black background says Stop Sexual Violence.Monday, October 22nd, Susy Woods joined us to discuss sexual education for people with disabilities in two separate workshops. Susy Woods has been a disability advocate for 36 years, serves on the ARC of Ilinois Board, is active in Illinois Imagines, and so much more. Over the course of her long career, she found that both parents and educators needed help figuring out how to include people with disabilities in sex education.

In two workshops, one for parents and the other for educators, Susy discussed real-world examples of sexual violence and the warning signs of sexual abuse. We are grateful that Susy took the time to travel from Springfield and share her knowledge. Stay tuned for video from the workshops!

Last week was a big one here at Center for Independent Futures! We all learned a bunch about intelligence and sexual violence prevention. If you are interested in learning more about either of these events, please email Connor Larsen or call (847) 328-2044.

Something’s Cooking Features New Evanston Restaurants

Two participants enjoy Something's Cooking with new Evanston restaurants.Have you heard? Something’s Cooking is heating up, and we have a bunch of great additions to this fall favorite! At Something’s Cooking, new Evanston restaurants are participating, plus you can look forward to raffle prizes and live music. Don’t miss this great event at the Woman’s Club of Evanston on Sunday, November 4th from 3:00-6:00.

Something’s Cooking New Evanston Restaurants

This year we have three new participating restaurants or beverage sponsors, and we are excited to welcome them into this fall tradition!

Firehouse Grill is a woodsy restored early 1900s firehouse, serving American standards. Get lunch or dinner seven days a week. With a new owner, a new menu, and new options, you’re in for a good meal.

Taco Diablo gives a respectful nod to Mexican cuisine, rooted in authentic Mexican cooking techniques. They serve traditional moles, freshly made salsas, and tacos in a lively and casual place.

Fruitbelt Sparkling Fruit Tonic is a wholesome, refreshing tonic made with sparkling water, a splash of Michigan fruit juice, a drop of honey, and a sprinkling of aromatic bitters. With only 60 calories and no artificial ingredients, this is delicious on its own or as a mixer.

Raffle and Auction Items Delight

Like always, we will have plenty of prizes to raffle off – and you do not need to be present to win! In addition to the raffle, you have the chance to take home some wonderful bottles of wine through the wine grab.

Beautiful photo of Great Smoky Mountains with orange sunset over mountains covered with evergreen trees.Plus, the event features some amazing auction items, like a 7-night stay at Blue Smoke Cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Nights at the cabin typically rent at $196-$346 per night. The cabin is surrounded by spectacular mountain views featuring Mount LeConte and Greenbrier Pinnacle. In the cabin, you will find a pool table, foosball, a vintage arcade game console, and large screen TVs featuring premium movie and sports channels. And if that isn’t enough, there is also a hot tub overlooking the mountains to enjoy after a long hike.

Get Down with Van Go Go

Van Go Go performs under stage lights in front of silhouetted crowd.If you were at Something’s Cooking last year, you probably saw Van Go Go putting on a show for us. Van Go Go is a group of individuals with and without developmental disabilities creating fun, foot stomping music! Come to the Woman’s Club of Evanston to enjoy the music with our wonderful community of supporters.

Buy Something’s Cooking Tickets Now!

Ready to find out what our favorite Something’s Cooking new Evanston restaurants have to offer? Don’t wait any longer! Buy your tickets online today. Tickets are $75, and you can even buy your raffle tickets online. For more information, contact Niki Moe at nmoe@independentfutures.com or (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.

Something’s Cooking Features Evanston Restaurants

Photo of two women smiling at Something's Cooking featuring Evanston restaurantsIn two months, Center for Independent Futures’ community will be at the Woman’s Club of Evanston enjoying the culinary standouts in our neighborhood. We are joined by fifteen Evanston restaurants, five local bakeries, and four unique beverage suppliers. Join us from 3-6 pm on Sunday, November 4th to partake in the delectable tastes of Evanston! Get tickets online now!

Our Friendly Little Neighborhood

We are excited to be joined at Something’s Cooking by some neighbors near our office. These Evanston restaurants know us and our program participants, and they support Center for Independent Futures’ mission throughout the year.

Firehouse Grill

This woodsy restored early 1900s firehouse is a restaurant and bar, serving American standards. Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, plus Sunday brunch, Firehouse Grill has a new owner, a new menu, and gluten-free menu options. Make sure you try out the new offerings at Something’s Cooking!

Gigio’s Pizzeria

This Evanston staple has been serving the community since 1968, making it the oldest pizza place in Evanston. Gigio’s specializes in New York style thin-crust pizza, and their menu offers burgers, hot dogs, Italian beef & sausages, tacos, burritos, salads, and homemade soups. Gigio’s supports Center for Independent Futures throughout the year with fundraisers and participation in this event.

Table to Stix

Photo of woman with child at past Something's Cooking eventTaking pride in the simple things like great food, service, and atmosphere, Table to Stix Ramen aims to bring all of these important elements to the table with good old-fashioned ramen. Don’t miss the chance to try some of this great Asian cuisine!

Full List of Something’s Cooking Participants:

Bagel Art Cafe

Blind Faith Cafe

Celtic Knot Public House

Edzo’s Burger Shop

Eli’s Cheesecake

Farmhouse

Few Spirits

Firehouse Grill

Flat Top Grill

Fruitbelt Sparking Fruit Tonic

Gigio’s Pizzeria

I Love Sweets

Koi

La Macchina Cafe

Lulu’s & Taco Diablo

Misericordia Hearts & Flour Bakery

Nothing Bundt Cakes

Peckish Pig

Sketchbook Brewing Company

Table to Stix

Temperance Beer Co.

Success Stories

mon18nov4:00 pm5:00 pmYoga

mon18nov5:00 pm6:00 pmBook Club

mon18nov6:30 pm8:00 pmSexuality & Safety - Women's Group

tue19nov1:30 pm2:30 pmWalking Club

wed20nov4:00 pm5:15 pmVolunteer Club

Volunteer your time and talent

Regardless of your expertise or experience, giving of yourself can change lives for the better and create new possibilities for those with disabilities.

Volunteer »

Give the gift of independence

Your tax-deductible contributions help us provide life-changing services, develop innovative solutions, and increase community education and outreach.

X
X