1876 - 1900


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


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



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.

1901 - 1950


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


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


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


YWCA Programming was expanded to many neighboring Chicago suburbs.


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

1951 - 2000


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


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


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


Counseling to rape and domestic violence survivors began.


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

TL-women with YWCA

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.


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


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

TL-Racial Justice

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


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

TL-3 faces

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


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


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


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."


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

2001 - Present


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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

Pramaggiore bw

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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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


The YWCA partners with the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Federal VA to launch Tiny Boots. The program provides quality, state-licensed childcare at no cost while Illinois Veterans attend scheduled medical or counseling appointments; or job interviews.


The YWCA partners with non-profit investment manager and ETF issuer Impact Shares to create the Impact Shares YWCA Women’s Empowerment Exchange Traded Fund (Ticker: WOMN) which launched on the New York Stock Exchange.


The YWCA holds a re-dedication ceremony for the Laura Parks & Mildred Francis Center in Woodlawn, along with the grand opening of the Bertha McMorris Innovation & Technology Institute.


The YWCA acquires Voices for Illinois Children, Streetwise, World of Money, and Partners in Community Building (PICB).

YWCA Metropolitan Chicago launches the Until Justice Just Is racial justice campaign.


YWCA Metropolitan Chicago merges with YWCA Lake County.


Nicole Robinson becomes the new Chief Executive Officer.