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Impact Stories

Each and every day, JCC Chicago programs inspire people in our community. Don’t take our word for it, let our program participants tell you more!

JCC Camp Chi

“Many, many years ago I received a scholarship from JCC to attend Camp Chi out of Chicago. It was a special time I still remember vividly. I was 16, the oldest camper there, and now I am 87….the year was 1943. My parents were immigrants from Europe (what is now Ukraine) and had no funds to send me or any of my siblings. This small donation is sent with heartfelt gratitude.”

-Camp Chi Alumna

Early Childhood

“On the mission statement of the JCC it says “to strengthen the Jewish identity and imbue the Jewish spirit into Chicago families.”

Sounds good but last week I actually experienced what that statement actually means. I was walking the halls after morning drop off on a rainy morning and in front of me Michelle had her two year old class in the buggy singing “its raining its pouring” after the first verse I hear a little voice say “No we want to sing Dayenu because it is almost Passover.” I stopped and told Michelle she must be doing something right.

It is these moments that I stop and appreciate how special JCC is. You have created an exceptional program that not only fulfills the mission of the JCC but does it in a way that each child can appreciate and understand it at his unique stage of development.”

-Early Childhood Parent

Theater Programs

“The theater program at JCC has brought so much joy to my son’s life (and mine) over his entire childhood. Not only has he learned theater skills, but he has gained wisdom and life skills that he wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. He learned to be part of a team, to follow direction, to collaborate, to be courageous. He became social with kids who were a lot like him, kids who accept and adore each other without judgement or criticism. For a kid who wasn’t “at home” on a sports field or at school-based extracurriculars, the JCC provided him a place to be himself.”

-Theater Parent

Young Adult Programs

“Sidney N. Shure Kehilla has provided me (and many others) with a well-organized but flexible means of preserving and strengthening the important place that Judaism has in my life, during a time when it almost got lost.”

-Sidney N. Shure Kehilla Participant

JCC Camp Chi

“The program made me believe I could change people’s opinions about Israel and if I go, I think I will learn even more.”

-Modern Israel History Program Participant

2nd Fridays

“We typically don’t celebrate at home. 2nd Fridays gives us a chance to relax, celebrate and recognize Shabbat.”

-Building Jewish Connections Program Participant

Apachi Day Camp

“This being our daughter’s third summer at “the big Apachi,” I knew she was going to have a fabulous summer! But with each summer, I wonder how it could get any better…but it did! The Camp Director out-did herself from her staff to the activities, from swimming to field trips, and even from the simple things like music and parent interaction. Our daughter was given so much love and in return loved her group of friends and the counselors. The counselors and staff that she interacted with were so caring and took such a personal interest in her well-being. Our daughter keeps asking me how she is going to get to be a pioneer but at the same time go to sleep-away camp because she just loves being a camper and doesn’t want to miss out on anything! Are you sure we can’t extend Apachi for another week???”

-Day Camp Program Participant


Donor Impact

JCC Chicago PresenTense

JCC Chicago PresenTense offers socially-minded young adults support for their community-minded businesses, projects or programs, and the opportunity to test the feasibility of their ideas with the benefit of a supportive network and structured process. Over the past three years, with steadfast challenge funding from an anonymous partner, more than 40 fellows realized their talent and hundreds of volunteers have invested their energy to foster the next generation of social innovation. This year, support from the Jacob J. Fink Foundation enabled JCC Chicago to start an intrapreneur cohort for our own staff to meet the needs of the agency with innovative solutions and to further encourage bright, young minds to create change from within. And, looking ahead, a three-year commitment from the Crown Family Philanthropies is enabling exploration of both additional agency partners and a high school cohort.

Very special thanks to Crown Family Philanthropies, Jacob J. Fink Foundation, Anonymous Partners

Camp Scholarships

275 donors. 556 scholarships. $579,438 awarded. Countless friendships, memories and connections. Each year, the JCC Women’s Auxiliary conducts their annual Summer of Smiles Campaign to support scholarship assistance for day and resident camp programs, and Camp Chi joins the effort with the long-standing Send a Kid to Camp campaign. The response from our community is overwhelming. As is the need. For many children, JCC summer camp is their only connection to Jewish life. For others, it is a meaningful way to embrace Jewish life beyond school and home. Regardless of circumstance, enabling access to Jewish summer camp is critical. Thank you.

Very special thanks to JCC Women’s Auxiliary, JCC Camp Chi Alumni and all camp scholarship donors

Garoon Gateway to Science

“My family was motivated to build the Gateway in an effort to instill in children a love of science,” said Philip Garoon. “We believe the world we live in today is a rapidly changing one, and our country can only remain great if it fosters in future generations an interest and curiosity in science and technology.” The Garoon Gateway to Science is an example of synergy between mission and philanthropy. Located at the Lake County JCC, the Gateway enjoys a dedicated space and welcomes thousands of visitors every year as the only Jewish outdoor science park in North America. While JCC Chicago camps visit Gateway during the summer months, the park also hosts school children who do not have access to hands-on science exploration in their home districts. The reach and scope of the facility is significant and impactful—as was the vision of Philip Garoon.

Very special thanks to Philip Garoon and Family


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