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10 People Giving Back in Chicago

The Editors | November 1, 2016 | Feature Features

If charity starts at home, we are all lucky to live here. Few cities have as robust a philanthropic community as the one in Chicago, which has thousands of individuals working to improve the lives of millions. Meet some of the people that make this city—and the world—a better place.
OFF THE ICE Blackhawk Duncan Keith gives back with @properties.

@Gives Back
A real estate firm has fun doing good.

Established in 2009 by @properties co-founders Thaddeus Wong and Michael Golden, @gives back was created to inspire charitable outreach among @properties brokers and to support local organizations. And it comes as no surprise, given the brokerage firm’s playful marketing and lively corporate culture, to find that everyone has a great time while giving back. Each year, the organization partners with a different charitable group. Last year, it raised $110,000 for The Noah’s Arc Foundation, a nonprofit founded by former Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah and his mother, Cecilia, and this year, it joined the team at Keith Relief, Chicago Blackhawk Duncan Keith’s charity, culminating their efforts with a country music party this fall that raised $100,000. “We’re proud to work with one of Chicago’s hardest-working athletes on such a great cause,” says Golden. Wong agreed: “We are blown away by the support we’ve received,” he says. “We surpassed our fundraising goals.”

Working in the Schools
A true hands-on initiative marks a quarter century.

Twenty-five years ago, Joanne Alter and Marion Stone befriended a teacher at a public school in Cabrini-Green who told them her students needed more one-on-one reading time. The two women rolled up their sleeves, read with children in the classroom and founded Working in the Schools, a nonprofit that today serves 8,100 elementary school students in 89 Chicago public schools, and mentors teachers through the Rochelle Lee Teacher Awards. “We stand on the shoulders of these visionaries who answered and addressed these needs,” says Brenda Palm, CEO of WITS. “And we also propel ourselves forward into the next 25 years, thinking of how we can be part of the equation in giving our students everything they need.” 25th Anniversary gala Nov. 5, 6pm, tickets from $500, Revel Fulton Market, 1215 W. Fulton Market, 312.269.4514,

Camp Out for Kids
An indelible summer lives on.

In his college years, Marc Lifshin worked at a mountain camp in Northern California where he watched the director personally sponsor kids who were underprivileged. “I saw firsthand how much of an impact it made,” explains Lifshin, a partner in LG Development Group. “And since that moment, I was committed to finding a way to do the same thing myself.” In 2008, along with partners Brian Neiswender and Barry Howard, Chicago-based Camp Out for Kids was born. The program, managed day to day by Ashley Proctor, Lifshin’s wife, works with a great variety of camps—from Chicago Park District day camps to the Digital Media Academy at University of Chicago—and has to date raised more than $800,000. Its goal is simply “to ensure as many children as possible have the opportunity to experience camp,” says Proctor.

The Art of Giving

The goal is to act as an artistic mouthpiece,” says David Weinberg, who, along with his wife, Jerry Newton, transformed his longtime Near North photography gallery, Weinberg/Newton, into a dedicated not-for-profit exhibition space for artists and organizations focused on social justice issues. Over the past two years, the avid philanthropists have curated powerful shows in partnership with organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Center on Halsted and Human Rights Watch. “[The gallery] works to help make people aware of issues that they might not already be aware of,” says Newton. “We give them the voice to galvanize and be a part of making a difference.” 300 W. Superior St., Ste. 203, 312.529.5090,

Living Legend
A family synonymous with the city keeps giving.

What’s in a name? If you’re Marshall Field V, it’s five decades of service to The Field Museum, which was established thanks to the largesse of ancestor and department store founder Marshall Field. “I came to Chicago when my father died,” he says. “He had been on the board of The Field Museum, and they said, ‘You’re the only Marshall Field around,’ so I inherited the seat.” That was in 1966, when Field was just 25 years old. For the past 50 years, Field has been not just a namesake but a leader on the board, championing causes that pique his interest. Of course, the Field isn’t the only Chicago institution that has benefited from Field’s leadership: The long list includes the Art Institute of Chicago, Rush University Medical Center and Lincoln Park Zoo. “I’ve enjoyed it,” he says. “It’s a mutual scratch routine. I love fundraising and having a real say in the direction a project is going.”


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