A sad day for Chicago with the rapid closure of Hull House last week.
Chicago Commons enjoyed a long history of cooperation with Hull House.
Graham Taylor, Commons’ founder, was a friend of Hull House’s Jane Addams and served on their Board over a century ago.
Hull House and Chicago Commons both have been leading social service organizations over the past 25 years — expanding pre-school opportunities in neighborhoods with highest poverty, creating highly successful adult education programs for the unemployed, and establishing a presence in troubled public housing developments.
The two organizations even discussed a merger in 2005, ultimately deciding the time was not right.
The closure of Hull House does not mean that the day of neighborhood based charities is over. To the contrary, it is as vital as ever.
Hull House’s financial struggles were the result of heavy reliance on State of Illinois funding and lack of focus.
Chicago Commons had its own financial struggles a few years back. Our key to success was FOCUS. We were able to right the ship by focusing on specific neighborhoods with highest needs and deepening our work in those neighborhoods. This sense of focus on neighborhoods and services has helped strengthen our finances by clarifying what is most important and allowing us to simplify our organization.
The legacy of neighborhood based social programs is alive and well in Chicago!