Our History

Our Inspiration:

It all began with a simple phone call. Our co-founder, Marybeth Lernihan had just returned from visiting a friend in Cincinnati, Ohio, who was President of an organization called Impact 100. Marybeth was intrigued with the simple, effective concept of this all-volunteer women’s organization that collectively pooled its member’s $1,000 contributions to fund high-impact $100,000 grants to local non-profits. Even more intriguing was the women’s intimate involvement in the decision making; working together to determine which worthy organization they would support; building connections to their community and each other in the process. Marybeth immediately called her two friends, Nonie Brown and Michele Polvere, and ran the idea past them. They both loved the idea and in 2010, Impact 100 Chicago was born. We are one of at least 48 independent organizations around the world who have modeled the concept of Impact 100, which was started in Cincinnati in 2001.

The Chapter Model:

Because Chicago covers a large geographic area, Impact 100 Chicago planned, from the beginning, to create local chapters to allow members to participate on committees that are close to where they live and work. Our dream of creating geographically-designed chapters became a reality in 2012 with the formation of a chapter servicing members in the city of Chicago. Through seven grant cycles and rapid growth, Impact 100 Chicago Suburban and City Chapters collectively awarded over $2.5 million of grant funds.

Impact 100 Chicago Today:

In 2017, a group of Impact 100 Chicago City Chapter members formed a new 501(c)(3) organization. Their plan is to follow the Impact 100 model of collective-giving and focus on funding needs only in the city of Chicago, which differs from our geographic funding preferences. In light of this, Impact 100 Chicago will consolidate and operate without chapter designations beginning the 2017/2018 grant cycle. Members joining Impact 100 Chicago will continue to learn about and support non-profits providing services throughout the Chicagoland area, and we will continue to provide opportunities for members to participate on committees that are close to where they live and work. We are proud of the grant-making success of our chapter launched in 2012, and will continue to explore new opportunities to expand our philanthropic mission in Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will County in the State of Illinois.

2016 Chart