1876    

A group of 13 women formed the Chicago YWCA to address the plight of the growing number of single women arriving in Chicago

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The YWCA offered physical and educational programs
during lunch and breaks to women who worked in factories.
Photo circa early 20th century.

 

1877

A dispensary provided medical needs and personal care in the homes of the sick. This work was the forerunner of the Visiting Nurses Association. The first of nine YWCA female residences was established.

1915

The YWCA established a residence and services to meet the needs of young African American women.

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Women learned a trade in an “ever-popular
millinery class” in 1921 at the YWCA Indiana
Branch, 3541 Indiana Avenue.

1930

The YWCA pioneered its work in race relations. By the early 1940s, all leadership and services were racially integrated.

1946

YWCA Programming was expanded to many neighboring Chicago suburbs.

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YWCA Clubs were the nucleus for a variety of programs
for women and teens through much of our history.
Photo circa 1940s. 

1965

Modern child care began with a Head Start program at the King Center.

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YWCA Operation Head Start programs for
preschool children, like this one at 436 E. 39th
Street, began in the mid-1960s
.

1966

The Chicago YWCA changed its name to YWCA Metropolitan Chicago to reflect its geographic outreach.

1971

Counseling to rape and domestic violence survivors began.

1972

The YWCA held the first Leader Luncheon to honor the accomplishments of working women.

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Members of the YWCA-West Suburban Area posted
signs on the front and rear of their offices to make YWCA
services better known and used by all women who may need them.
Photo 1981.

1983

The YWCA focused it programs in three service programs-services to women in crisis, child care and community services.

1991

The Racial Justice Award was established to recognize the YWCA’s commitment to eliminate racism.

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Julia Stasch, President of Stein & Company and first
recipient of the YWCA Racial Justice Award in 1991.

1997

The YWCA began a multi-year expansion of services to Latino and Asian populations, people with disabilities, the gay-lesbian-bisexual-transsexual communities.

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YWCA offers counseling services that address
the unique needs of the LGBT community.
 

1998

The Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline was established with 24-hour, toll-free counseling support and referral services.

2000

The RISE Children’s Center for sexually abused children and teens opened.

2003

In February of 2003, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago moved its corporate headquarters to the historic London Guaranty Building at 360 N. Michigan. This move was part of the YWCA’s strategic plan “to become Greater Chicago’s recognized leader for the empowerment of women and a driving force for racial justice by 2008.”

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Chicago’s London Guaranty Building and YWCA headquarters.
Courtesy of the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

2004

In 2004, YWCA US launched a bold new brand that is a powerful representation of who we are today. We have always been committed to eliminating racism and empowering women-now our vision is ‘front and center’ as a part of our core identity. The launch of the new brand not only places our vision at the forefront of our story, it also challenges us to reinforce the elimination of racism and the empowerment of women in everything we do.

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YWCA launches new logo and branding campaign to focus on core issues of the agency’s mission.

2005

The YWCA honored its first Promise Award winner, Nicole Truog, at Leader Luncheon. The Promise Award continues to be given annually to a woman under 30 with sufficient community service and professional success to indicate her potential for extraordinary leadership and service.

2006

YWCA Metropolitan Chicago celebrated 130 years of serving the Chicago community.

2007

October 2007 launched the first major fundraising campaign in over 40 years. Inspire. Believe. Thrive. The Campaign for the Model YWCA is a $6.5 million effort to raise money for new programs and new community centers. In December of 2007, the YWCA opened the first of five new Model YWCA Centers, The YWCA Metropolitan Chicago Laura Parks, Mildred Francis Center, to serve the Cottage Grove community.

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YWCA launches its first campaign in more than 40 years, Aspire. Believe. Thrive. The Campaign for the Model YWCA. 

2008

The YWCA opens the Laura Parks and Mildred Francis Center, the first Model YWCA Center, in Greater Grand Crossing on Chicago’s South Side.

2009

Stephen Mack becomes the first male Outstanding Leader honored at YWCA Leader Luncheon in the “Mentor” category, created to acknowledge individuals who help support the professional developments of women.

2010

The YWCA opens the Patterson and McDaniel Family Center in the western suburb of Glendale Heights.

2012

The Transformative Leader Award created to honor women for their exceptional achievements in leadership.

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Anne R. Pramaggiore becomes first recipient of the YWCA Transformative Leader Award at the 40th annual Leader Luncheon event.

2013    

In order to position the organization for future success, the YWCA embarked on transformation from social service agency to social enterprise, launching new programmatic initiatives through strategic partnerships, including Developing Digital Diversity (3D), the CONSTRUCT program, and Business and Entrepreneurship Services.

2014    

The YWCA implemented a digital engagement strategy for constituents and created a new logo that speaks to the holistic nature of YWCA service provision.

2015    

The YWCA launches YShop, a proprietary e-commerce site, in partnership with local businesses.

2015

Uber and the YWCA launch a multi-dimensional partnership whereby the YWCA recruits women for flexible, meaningful earning opportunities and in turn, Uber provides free transportation for YWCA participants, reducing transportation barriers to employment.

2015

The YWCA opens a new location in Logan Square, the Cynthia Lafuente Center.

2015

The Trailblazer award is created, and honors Christie Hefner as an activist, corporate executive, and philanthropist.

2015    

The YWCA opens a new location in the North Lawndale community, the Julian Grace Innovation and Technology Institute.