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Spotlight on organizations serving Chicago women

by Aida Kajs

This year, to kick off Women’s History Month, we wanted to highlight some organizations in Chicago which do a great job at serving women and their unique, often overlooked needs. If you have the time, we hope that you follow the links below to learn more about these organizations.

Since 2003, A Long Walk Home has been working to develop the next generation of leaders in gender equity and racial justice. Co-founded by sisters Salamishah and Scheherazade Tillet, the organization has partnered with the likes of Gloria Steinem and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Focusing on immigrant communities, Apna Ghar is working to end gender violence through their approach combining services for survivors, advocacy, and community outreach. With a staff that speaks a combined 20 languages, Apna Ghar even operates a 24-hour crisis line.

Founded by Chicago engineer and entrepreneur Kimberly Moore, Calculated Genius provides STEM enrichment for high school students in the Chicago area, as well as the STEMinist Scholarship for young women from the Chicago area majoring in engineering.

The Chicago Abortion Fund provides comprehensive support to people seeking abortion care, working towards an ultimate goal of ensuring bodily autonomy for all. In addition to operating a helpline and providing financial support, their website contains a wealth of resources for those pre- and post-abortion.

Focusing on the three key issues of work and economic security, freedom from violence, and access to health, the Chicago Foundation for Women fundraises for initiatives that serve women throughout the Chicago area.

Chicago Women’s Health Center provides health services and health education to women, trans people, and young people on a sliding-scale payment model. They offer primary care, trans health services, gynecologic care, and more to people who may not be able to access it anywhere else.

CWIT aims to help women succeed in skilled trades typically dominated by men, offering training programs in both construction and welding. Through helping funnel women into these higher-paying trades, CWIT hopes to help close the gender pay gap.

For 35 years, Deborah’s Place has worked to provide housing for unaccompanied women experiencing homelessness in Chicago. Deborah’s Place works towards the goal that “once a woman comes to Deborah’s Place, she will never be homeless again.”

Founded in 2011, GirlForward focuses on the development of young women displaced by conflict and persecution in Chicago and Austin. They aim to serve this particularly vulnerable population through mentoring, education programs, and the creation of safe spaces.

This Girl Scout council serves more than 50,000 girls, providing opportunities for young women to grow into go-getters, innovators, risk-takers, and leaders (G.I.R.L.) Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is a part of Girl Scouts of the USA, in turn a part of the largest voluntary movement for girls in the world, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Part of a national network of Girls Inc. organizations across the country, Girls Inc. of Chicago works with girls from elementary through high school, utilizing research-based curricula to equip girls with the tools they need to succeed in today’s world.

The Midwest Coalition provides support for those traveling to, from, or within the midwest to access safe and legal abortion. As a practical abortion fund, MAC assists with difficulties such as travel costs or lodging which can present as barriers to abortion.

Offering a wide variety of programs serving Chicago Latinas, Mujeres Latinas en Acción has been active since 1973. They stand out in their outreach with this community that represents almost 30% of Chicago’s women.

From humble beginnings of founder Ellen Kogstad Thompson distributing formula and diapers to young mothers in her community in 1983, New Moms has grown to provide housing, family support, and job training for young moms in Chicago. With their “2-generation” approach that sees mothers and their children as partners, they aim to keep young mothers in the “driver’s seat.”

Providing assistance to women experiencing homelessness, Sarah’s Circle is increasing focused on finding women permanent housing solutions. As stated on their website, “women become homeless for different reasons than men,” so they focus on gender-sensitive, trauma-informed care.

With programs in Chicago, Dallas, New York, and Los Angeles, Step Up connects women professionals with young women with big aspirations in need of mentorship. Providing support for young women up to the age of 25, Step Up focuses their efforts on working with girls living or going to school in under-resourced communities.

For almost 50 years, Women Employed has been working to improve the workplace for women and families. With initiatives running the gamut from college bridge programs to activism in favor of paid family leave, Women Employed works tirelessly for economic equality in Chicago and beyond.

For 25 years, WP+D has provided a professional network for women in the fields of planning and development. They offer professional development and networking opportunities in a space that allows for honesty about the challenges women face in this male-dominated field.

Founded in 1876 in the aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago works towards a goal of “eliminating racism and empowering women.” Part of the national YWCA USA network, the Chicago area is also home to YWCA Evanston/North Shore, YWCA Elgin, and YWCA Lake County.

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