In 1919, Club One in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood provided a safe place for a young man who had just lost his father as World War I came to an end in Europe. 96 years later, a female high school student at Club Two finds a place to safely assert herself as a leader among her peers through community service and a young boy at our Barreto Club feels safe and free to pursue his interests.
This all became possible due to the initiative of 43 members of the Union League Club of Chicago who saw that there were neighborhoods with young men that were being overlooked by society and in need of programming to foster their development. On December 26, 1919, they charted the Union League Foundation for Boys’ Clubs. Each of the founding members donated $1,000 (which today, roughly translates to $15,000). They quickly raised enough money to purchase and renovate a building to house the first Club, which opened its doors in May of 1920. It did not take long for the community to feel the impact of the Club’s presence and programming.
Over the course of a century, additional Club location were established, young women were welcomed as Club members, and programming expanded and evolved. For 100 years, we have continued the vision of the initial 43 founders to build brighter futures for Chicago’s youth, and we excitedly look ahead to the next 100!