Why These 10 Chicago Leaders Support the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago (and You Should Too)

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago has been supporting communities across Metropolitan Chicago for nearly 150 years. This year, in particular, the organization has more than just its impactful history to celebrate. They’ve just opened a new 60,000-square-foot, $22.5-million West Loop headquarters that will also serve as a research lab furthering the mission to foster academic readiness, character development, violence prevention and fitness for children, adults and families. And on Oct. 27, the organization will hold the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago 2016 Recognition Dinner, further supporting the diverse programs and services that also advance their mission. We asked 10 Chicago leaders why they’re so excited about supporting the YMCA. Here’s what they had to say.

The YMCA gives kids and families roots and WINGS.

Rita Canning, founder of domestic violence shelter Women In Need Growing Stronger (WINGS) and recipient of the “YMCA So Much More Than A Leader Award”

It’s “Nu” strategic philanthropic investing at its best — the new West Loop Center collects data on all programs, which will be carefully analyzed to create maximum impact going forward.

John Amboian, Nuveen Investments non-executive chairman and strategic advisor, and event chair

This new living laboratory of innovation and growth is a Crown-ing achievement not just regionally, but also nationally.

– Steve Crown, general partner at Henry Crown and Company, chairman of the YMCA Board from 2009-2012, and event chair

It’s a Sage investment in the future. 

– Vince Foglia, co-founder of Sage Products, significant supporter of Foglia and Sage YMCAs, recipient of “2015 So Much More than a Leader” Award, and event chair

This Y helps overcome the otherwise up-Hill battle, which underserved kids face in school and life, through its outstanding early childhood programs.

David Hiller, president and CEO of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, which received the “2015 So Much More Than a Partner Award” and has made a transformative three-year commitment to the  Y Essentials Quality Initiative in Early Learning

There is no “Nittpicking” about this, when you join the Y, you join something big, bold and powerful. Across the region, it supports and transforms entire communities, as well as individual lives.

– Peter McNitt, vice chairman of BMO Harris, which provided lead funding for the Learning Institute at the new West Loop facility, (he is accepting the “2016 So Much More Than a Partner Award” on its behalf), and chairman of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago Board

The Y distributes support across 34 sibling facilities and camps, “Holding the Keyes” to one of the largest and soon to be even more effective human service programs in the region.

– J. Christopher and M. Jude Reyes, siblings, co-chairmen of Reyes Holdings, which distributes food and beverages and is one of the largest privately owned companies in the country, and event chairs

There is more than one way to have “Skin” in the transforming lives game. The best ones always promote and adhere to good values — like the Boy Scouts, our USA military and this YMCA.

– Sam Skinner, former U.S. Transportation Secretary and White House Chief of Staff under George H.W. Bush, former president of ComEd, Of Council Attorney for Greenberg, Traurig LLP, serving on numerous corporate boards, and event chair.

Even the Y’s robust entertainment and sports programs serve individuals, families and the community very well indeed.

LeeAnn Trotter, entertainment reporter for NBC5 and event host

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago 2016 Recognition Dinner will be held Oct. 27, 2016, at 6 p.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, 120 East Delaware Place. Tickets start at $500. To purchase tickets or for more information, click here.

 

Prayers for Crushers Club Please

As you know, we love creating powerful virtuous circles of support for the most impactful nonprofits at Make It Better. This is why we started our Philanthropy Awards. We’re particularly proud of supporting Crushers Club with one of these awards. Please watch this short video to understand why:

Cubs Manager Joe Madden and Cubs Charities joined forces with Crushers Club soon after the organization received our award too. Please see Joe and Connie Falcone of Cubs Charities in action here:

Perhaps our favorite success story though is that Sally Schneiders and her family found a calling to support Crushers Club because of our award. And now she asks for one more powerful thing for it: Prayers. Please see Sally’s heartfelt plea below and add your prayers too. Thank you.

Hi-

Just a few minutes ago, I was half way out the door on a run, but my phone rang. It was Sally Hazelgrove.

I picked it up, thinking she was going to confirm with me what time I would be arriving at Crusher’s today. I had butter softening on the counter in the kitchen, for the cookies I was going to bake and bring out to Englewood, along with donations for “carbo fests” from a couple of you (thanks!)

Sally had a hard time talking so I knew something was up, but I wasn’t prepared for what she was going to say. So many magical things were happening at Crusher’s — so many stories and so many kids powerfully impacted by her love and faith in them. Her “program”!

She told me in halting tones there are serious death threats against her … She is not sure why but thinks Facebook, or ‘cyber gangbanging,’ is the root of all of this. Sally has spoken out against the gangs, and certain members “hate on her.” 

Sally is often impervious to death threats with her faith in God, but this time she feels very human, and very scared for herself, her own children, and her Crusher’s kids.

She told me it was too dangerous for me to go out there today. So now what? Those kids need her, they need me, they need a lot of people to care about them. How do we do it without going out to Englewood?

For now, she asked me, please pray. And get others to pray for all of this to pass. She believes profoundly in the strength of our combined prayer and so I am asking you to do this. Please pray for Sally Hazelgrove and all of the kids in Englewood. 

I do not know what else to do!! Thanks for all of your past support and I PRAY I can go out there again soon — bring cookies and see them spar, make music, laugh, free to be themselves.

Thanks again!

Sally S.

Better Money for You and Others

Great news. Median household incomes in America surged up 5.2 percent last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This is record-breaking growth — the largest increase since the government started keeping track in 1967. According to The New York Times, not only did household incomes grow, but poverty fell, health insurance coverage increased and years of stagnation ended.

Wow. That’s a lot of happy money news. Our economy is getting stronger and raising families up on all rungs of the economic ladder. Hopefully, this includes yours.

I’m delighted to report that Make It Better has even more good financial news and opportunities for you too — special opportunities and deals that will help you stretch your (hopefully) growing income further. We think of this as “Better Money.”

$500 Hubbard Woods Design District Fashion and Home Décor Shopping Spree  

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It’s always a pleasure to shop in the beautiful Hubbard Woods Design District stores. Now there is extra incentive — when you stop by you can enter a raffle to win a $1,300 home or $595 fashion shopping spree there too. Entries close Oct. 1; so please visit in September. Learn more here.

$30 Off and Dinner Made Better By Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon 

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Photo courtesy of Marley Spoon.

There’s a new meals-at-home delivery service in town — Martha & Marley Spoon. Marley Spoon launched to great success in Canada. Martha Stewart likes the concept so much that she now provides the recipes and a USA partnership.

Place an order here and use code BETTER16 to get $30 off your first box, as well as free delivery. According to our millennial friends, this is cheaper, easier and tastier than doing all of the grocery shopping and preparation yourself. SCORE!

Pomegranate Margaritas That Benefit American Cancer Society and Breast Cancer Research 

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Depot Nuevo’s Pomegranate Margarita (Photo by Erica Barraca.)

Our favorite tequila, Wansas, created the tastiest and most beautiful margarita ever — the Wansas Pomegranate Margarita. We love it so much that we put it on the cover of our recent Entertaining Guide.

Four-time Make It Better Best Of winner Depot Nuevo kindly offered to donate $1 from every sale of this drink for the next six months to the American Cancer Society to fund breast cancer research. As my dear friend and ACS Lakeshore Division Senior Market Manager Maryann Rasmussen says, “You can’t beat cancer alone. We need everyone in the community to mobilize to make it happen.” We’re all in to beat cancer with this fabulous cocktail.

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Alex Gonzalez, Director of Mixology, Wansas Tequila; Rob Garrison, owner of Depot Nuevo; Luis Monzalvo, Director of Mexico Operations, Wansas Tequila

As you know, Make It Better loves creating virtuous circles like this. Win for ACS and breast cancer research, win for Wansas and Depot Nuevo, win for you because you enjoy a tasty night out with a real winner and contribute to those working toward a cure.

Help Victims of Domestic and Financial Violence Through Allstate’s Purple Purse Campaign

Since 2005, hometown corporate favorite Allstate Insurance has helped more than 800,000 women who are victims of domestic violence (which often results in financial abuse too) through its Allstate Foundation Purple Purse program.

If you are reading this, you are likely more fortunate than the women served by Allstate’s generosity. For the next few weeks, you can pay this blessing forward and stretch your philanthropic dollars even further by donating to the Purple Purse program. Allstate will match every dollar you donate to this campaign.

Learn more here.

More happy news. According to Allstate, a collection of handbags are being specially created by Tory Burch, Christian Louboutin and other designers to benefit the foundation. Emmy-nominated actress Kerry Washington has also joined the campaign as its ambassador.

Because we’re all fans of Kerry and designer bags, we look forward to supporting this virtuous circle in development too.

#MakeItBetter

#BetterMoney

#VirtuousCircles

#GoTeam

Realizing the Dream — Chicago Botanic Garden’s Regenstein Learning Campus Perfect for All Four Generations of My Family

I love, love, love the Chicago Botanic Garden. For three decades it has been my favorite destination for a family outing, bicycle ride, walk with a friend, music under the stars, meditative moments and more. I enjoyed playing in the Rose Garden fountain just as much as my kids did. Then somehow (and much too quickly) I found myself hosting wedding events there for two of them. And of course, my mom and I look for every opportunity possible to visit CBG together too.

I also love that CBG has grown to provide values that are even more important and enduring than beauty and pleasure — particularly their world-class conservation, research and education. We need this more than ever in order to understand and act on the environmental imperatives that our children and grandchildren face.

We’ve proudly supported the development of research centers and university partnerships at CBG that make it possible for adults to earn degrees there and youth to learn about nature and agriculture at the main campus and other sites across Chicagoland. But I’m most excited by the opening of the Regenstein Learning Campus this weekend.

With this meticulously designed, light-filled, child friendly space that even includes a “Nature Preschool,” the next generation can be immersed in the importance and delight of an environmental education. I caught a sneak peak of it last night at the ribbon cutting and can’t wait to take my grandchildren there as soon as possible — to learn, play, delight together.

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Board Chair Bob Finke, Susan Regenstein and Jean Franczyk

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Nature preschool classroom

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Kids in the nature preschool

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Kitchen

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Bob Finke, Susan B. Noyes, Jean Franczyk and Francee Harrington

Photos courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden. 

 

What Saatchi & Saatchi’s Kevin Roberts (and Others in Media) Missed: Everyone Wins When Equality Reigns

As reported yesterday on the front page of the Financial Times and elsewhere in the financial press yesterday, Kevin Roberts, chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, part of the Publicis Groupe, was put on leave after saying that women employees lack “vertical ambition.” Roberts resigned Aug. 3.

This follows two recent incidents involving sexism in the media: Fox News’ firing Robert Ailes and advertising agency J. Walter Thompson replacing a male CEO also accused of making demeaning comments toward women with its first-ever female top boss Tamara Ingram.

The first woman in U.S. history has just been nominated by a major party to be President of the United States, and there are plenty of other signs indicating that woman power is on the rise — including the astounding success embedded in Make It Better’s list of The 25 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.

"Tonight, we've reached a milestone in our nation's march toward a more perfect union: the first time that a major party has nominated a woman for president. Standing here as my mother's daughter, and my daughter's mother, I'm so happy this day has come. Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. Happy for boys and men because when any barrier falls in America, it clears the way for everyone. When there are no ceilings, the sky's the limit. So let's keep going…until every one of the 161 million women and girls across America has the opportunity she deserves to have. Because even more important than the history we make tonight, is the history we will write together in the years ahead." —Hillary

A photo posted by Hillary Clinton (@hillaryclinton) on

The savviest media and advertising insiders understand gender dynamics and recommend the wisest way forward for advertisers and really, for the world. Let equality reign. Allowing women equal opportunities lifts everyone up. As Nicholas Kristof explains in his recent New York Times editorial, do not be afraid of women power, but instead embrace it with enthusiasm because when women win, men win too.

Yesterday’s USA Today offers another story that demonstrates how families win when parents feel parity. “As Saves Go, Marriage Takes Top Spot” makes stars of U.S. volleyball Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings and her husband and father of their three young children, Casey Jennings.

Contrast that with yesterday’s LA Times article about the South Sudan, “What Daughters Are Worth,” which explains that there are girls in parts of the world where women are not equal who are traded for cows.

The choice looks simple from our perspective. Treat women as equals and the economy and civil liberties expand. Don’t, and businesses and society stagnate.

Cheryl Berman, former chairman and chief creative officer of Leo Burnett USA, a legendary Publicis advertising agency, now runs her own agency, Unbundled, and consults for Rise Interactive. Both firms are flourishing. She offers a simple response to the Saatchi & Saatchi comments:

“To say women lack vertical ambition in the ad industry is an archaic, absurd and demoralizing observation,” Berman says. “It is true that there is a definite shortage of female leaders, but it is not due to a lack of ambition. It is due to male leaders like Kevin Roberts, who fail to realize that women make the majority of all purchases in almost every advertising category.”

Cheryl Berman

Cheryl Berman

Berman adds, “Women are also the proven leaders when it comes to sharing information on social media. So I believe we could factually prove more woman leaders could actually help revitalize agency brands like Saatchi and position them for a more productive future.”

By the way, if you had any doubts about Berman’s aptitude, Peggy Olsen, the young female account representative in the TV show “Mad Men” is based on Cheryl Berman. Advertising executive and Berman’s former employer Leo Burnett was an early and visionary equal rights proponent who consistently promoted winning ideas.

What worked for Burnett will work for the world. Equal voice for equal talent. Nobody demeaned. Everybody wins.

Elon Musk Continues to Innovate and Amaze

Yes, Elon Musk is the Benjamin Franklin of our generation. Possibly, he is also the real Iron Man, like the movie character played by Robert Downey Jr. And yes, I am his fan.

His Master Plan, Part Deux, for Tesla, revealed today only ratcheted up my enthusiasm for his determined, bold plans that blend sustainable with cool and smart in order to make Earth better. Bloomberg did a deep dive into the master plan and took a look at Tesla’s future too.

Thanks to RelayRides founder and current CEO of Peers Shelby Clark for bringing Musk’s Master Plan to our attention.

If you aren’t yet a believer, I recommend Musk’s biography to you — “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceEx and The Quest For A Fantastic Future.”

Tesla Model S (Photo courtesy of Tesla.)

Tesla Model S (Photo courtesy of Tesla.)

I also recommend that you test drive a Tesla and compare it to all the other luxury electric cars recommended in our Make It Better article: Luxury Cars Go Green.

Yes, we can all change the world for the better by choosing greener and cooler. Elon Musk is showing us how.

Moms, Millennials, Money, Values and Impact

If you’ve followed the evolution of Make It Better Media, you know that we started as a small community website for North Shore moms more than nine years ago. Fortunately, we caught powerful rising tides of influence that helped make us what we are today — the internet, women, millennials, money and social impact.

Now we are well-established with a print magazine, vibrant social network, events and awards. Because of our mission, values and quality content, we are trusted by both women and men.

Make It Better grew up to be a small but mighty full-service media company.

Please pause with us and give thanks for those “rising tides of influence.” They not only helped Make It Better grow, but they also suggest that a better future for everyone is possible, and perhaps even likely.

WOMEN, THE INTERNET AND MONEY

Women control most consumer dollars. Increasingly, they control or share decision-making authority with their partners for family investment and philanthropy decisions too. Given that, on average, women live longer than men, trillions — not just billions — of dollars are or will soon be under female control.

Women meeting

The really good news is that 92 percent of educated, affluent women, like our original target audience and the founders of Make It Better, are likely to change their brand loyalties if they think it will make the world a better place. The more money that is aligned with that statistic, the faster our world changes for the better.

Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to make monetary choices based on research and values. It’s also easier than ever to connect and share ideas and decisions with others. Social network shares are like rocket fuel for a good cause or a good deal. Increasingly, an ever-expanding group of consumers and investors expect a double bottom line — a good deal that also does good in the world.

Many women enjoy working collaboratively to improve the world — think giving circles and service clubs. Social media exponentially amplifies the power of those collaborations. Women are far more likely than men to share on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

As women control more money and spend or invest it according to their values, all while sharing information online, it creates a tidal wave of social impact for the better.

THE WOMEN OF MAKEITBETTER.NET

Julie Chernoff is not only Make It Better’s dining editor, she was one of the original founders of makeitbetter.net. She also is a great example of the talent and community leadership represented by the group that launched our site on May 1, 2007.

Chernoff is a Yale grad who worked on both coasts in theater and the culinary arts before settling in Evanston to raise two great kids with her husband. She rises to leadership positions in every organization she joins. She served on the Evanston/Skokie District 65 Board of Education, ran a catering business and cooking school out of her historic Daniel Burnham-designed home, and has chaired numerous fundraisers.

In short, Chernoff serves her community — your community, too — with love and a phenomenal skill set. She’s the prototypical North Shore Wonder Woman.

Chernoff’s values reflect those of the entire makeitbetter.net founding group. Those values are embedded in Make It Better’s DNA.

From the beginning, every Make It Better article and activity has reflected an educated common sense, a gratitude for (and affectionate exasperation with) family, a love of community and support and amplification of philanthropic best practices. We offer entertaining and thoughtful solutions — not angst or luxury lifestyle trivia — that connect our audience to the best local and national resources.

Our 2007 launch was so early in the internet era that other media referenced our endeavor as a “weblog” instead of a website or online community. Fast-forward to today though, and Make It Better thrives because people understand and embrace the power of online community.

Make It Better Mission

We’ve honored our mission to be the most-trusted, easiest-to-use community resource that helps make your life and the lives of others better. You’ve responded with passion for our brand and content. (Thank you very much!) In the process, we’ve helped a lot of worthy organizations and businesses, which also makes our hometowns and Chicagoland stronger.

MEN LIKE AND RESPOND TO MAKE IT BETTER TOO

A funny thing happened along our publishing journey. Men joined us too. Turns out they want to know about and connect with what is best for their family and community too. They want to make the world a better place. They also yearn for trustworthy, easy-to-use media.

Charles Tillman. (Photo courtesy of the Cornerstone Foundation. )

Charles Tillman. (Photo courtesy of the Cornerstone Foundation. )

The savviest men and women have created powerful careers because they reflect the Make It Better values addressed by Wharton professor and bestselling author Adam Grant in his book “Give And Take: A Revolutionary Approach To Success.”

Grant’s research proves that the most successful people are givers, not takers or matchers. This proves to be true for entrepreneurial publishers, as well as those climbing a corporate ladder.

WOMEN POWER IS ON THE RISE

Glance at the number of college graduates, postgraduate degree holders, new hires and the members of the U.S. work force under 40, and you’ll see that women are outpacing men in most categories and professions. Note that the majority of TV talking heads in that age group are women, and more commercials than ever are geared towards women — even during the Super Bowl. According to Forbes, 2016 will see more support and growth of entrepreneurial women than ever before.

Also notice that more men than ever are the parents standing outside the kindergarten doors, and they’re grateful for the opportunity. Men and women are doing a better job than ever of sharing parenting and domestic responsibilities and supporting each other in career choices too.

In many cases, women have to fight less for equal rights today (though there is still much room for progress on this front). Oh yeah, and absent a catastrophe or a dramatic remake of Donald Trump’s character, a woman is about to become our next president.

In the digital era, collaboration rather than competition is the fastest way forward. As mentioned above, many women seem to be particularly adept at this too. As women power is on the rise, the potential for women to foster change for the better elevates correspondingly too. Fortunately for Make It Better, the power of women-owned media is also on the rise.

MILLENNIALS EXPECT MEANING

Educated and affluent moms like Julie Chernoff helped raise millennials (the generation born between the early 1980s and early 2000s) with great values. According to PEW research, millennials are the largest generation in U.S. history. Intriguingly, they expect and demand to make the world a better place. Period.

Unlike any prior generation, millennials expect meaning and social impact with their time, talents and money. They choose Toms shoes, Whole Foods and Starbucks because of the values embedded in those brands. They say no in record numbers to the kind of jobs that offer big pay, but poor lifestyles which long attracted most young talent before this generation.

Social impact investing is another example of this generation’s effect on our country and economy. Millennials with money to invest choose investments with a double bottom line. The companies they invest in have to create social impact as well as deliver profits.

A recent survey by U.S. Trust showed an astonishingly high 93 percent of millennials with assets in excess of $3 million said that a company’s social and environmental impact was key to their investing decision.

Millennials likely drive the growth of B Corporations too. These are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

Needless to say, millennials also are internet natives. They grew up googling their choices online. Their sensibilities, choices and clicks will continue to fuel the growth of the internet and business in general, creating greater positive impact.

TURNING OFF THE BAD, ACCELERATING THE GOOD

It should surprise no one that affluent Americans have turned away from the traditional media’s relentless barrage of bad news and biased reporting.

This opens a wide door for media people trust that provides information and solutions that help. In recent years, as national broadcast news numbers plummeted, TED Talk views soared. This helps explain the growth of Make It Better too.

That’s not to say we’re “Pollyanna.” We know inequities exist. The escalating violence between the police and blacks, and the sometimes stupefying presidential election dynamics are two examples. As Scott Turow said in our interview a few years ago when discussing the difference between the ‘60s and now:

“There are still massive differences between rich and poor, a lot of it focused on race. But we’ve come such a long way.”

Scott Turow

Scott Turow

“There are millions and millions of people in this country whose lives are not only better [now than they would have been in the ’60s], they can now achieve their full potential. This also is true for women and for gays who don’t have to hide who they are any more … We’re not done. But please, let’s do stop and smell the roses here.”

Fortunately, there are examples of individuals who care, and there are resources to help that are growing. Most people really do want to help, especially if you make it easy for them to do so. This is Make It Better’s specialty — making it easy to help yourself and others, while growing a trusted and powerful network of good people, good organizations and good communities.

We’re grateful for these trends. They helped grow Make It Better Media. More importantly though, they will also grow a much better world for all.

Make It Better Philosophy