Don’t hate…debate

This year over 1500 Chicago Public School students from 59 high schools and 14 middle schools from across the City of Chicago will compete in academic debates. The students’ contests are characterized by evidence-based argumentation, detailed policy analysis and direct refutation of their opponents’ policy positions. Debaters spend an average of 440 hours of out-of-school time researching and reading source materials to gather evidence. Their topics are complex and include issues such as transportation infrastructure, military policy and poverty.

Emmitt Bowles, a former high school debate and current insurance and retirement company owner at Bowles and Bowles Insurance, serves as a volunteer judge and coach for the Chicago Debate League (CDL). Emmitt says that he utilizes the skills he learned while debating in his personal and professional every day and he feels that his experience as a volunteer helps him to provide opportunities to students that would otherwise have been unavailable.

“Our students have big dreams. Nothing gives me more joy than hearing a student vocalize their dreams and aspirations. To play a small role in helping these students realize the potential and greatness that they have within themselves is both a humbling and good learning experience” said Emmitt.

Clinton McClure, who currently volunteers as a judge CDL judge, promotes that the opportunity gives him a chance to help debaters hone their craft just as debate helped him in high school.

“Whether I work by day designing improvements for transportation systems as a civil engineer, or critique speeches as a judge, I value the opportunity to help make connections so that people can move to new and better places,” Clinton said.

The Chicago Debate Commission (CDC) is the non-profit private partner to Chicago Public Schools in the administration of the Chicago Debate League. The CDC has been helping transform the lives of public school students in Chicago since 1995.

To become a volunteer judge or coach visit The Chicago Debate Commission profile on One Good Deed Chicago’s website



Register for the National Conference on Volunteering and Service June 18-20

Thousands of leaders will descend on Chicago for the 2012 National Conference on Volunteering and Service in a little more than three months.

The annual event convened by the Points of Lights Institute is the world’s largest gathering of volunteer and service leaders from the nonprofit, corporate and government sectors. Featured speakers include Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Craig Newmark (yes, that Craig), former first lady Barbara Bush, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Co-Founder of Groupon Brad Keywell and many, many more.

One Good Deed Chicago’s fearless leader Jenné Myers serves as a Host Committee co-chair, so I’ve been able to see the planning of this event behind the scenes! I’m excited to take part in important conversations about service, learn from others’ expertise, and see Chicago showcased as a bright spot in the world of service and philanthropy.

To learn more about the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Chicago June 18-20, visit There are discounted registration fees available for students and National Service volunteers, such as AmeriCorps members.

See you then!


Volunteers make a difference at Bookamania

Volunteer Chicago Public School Bookamania

Volunteers work with Chicago Public School children at Bookamania 2011.

by Ruchi Ray, Intern, Leap Learning Systems 

I cannot wait to tell you about a successful volunteer event Leap Learning Systems has had in the past! Each year, Leap Learning Systems partners with After School Matters and Chicago Public Schools to implement a career and college readiness program in the Austin community.  Participating students volunteered at the Harold Washington Library’s Bookamania event on November 19, 2011. This event was a free celebration of children’s books for children ages 3 to 10 and their families. Our students had the opportunity to help and interact with the younger children and their parents. 

I can say that for some of these teens, this was their first trip to the main library.  Not only were the ASM teens thankful for the opportunity to work with the children, socialize with other teens from around the city, and give back to their community, they also felt very accomplished after the overall experience. Leap is always curious to know feedback on the turnout of volunteer events like these; here is one from Ms. Robin Willard from Harold Washington:

 “Last year our Events staff estimated that there were approximately 7,000 guests on Saturday – the largest crowd we have hosted in Bookamania history – and we know we could not have made it as successful as it was without the help of volunteers, such as those from Leap Learning Systems.  It was a pleasure to work with the many teens who came from Chicago’s Austin neighborhood to represent Leap with their mentors and program facilitators”. 

–      Robin Willard, Young Adult Specialist, Chicago Public Library 

This semester, the students in the Beverage Industry: Products and Profits After School Matters program will be involved with a service event for young children.  We focused this session of ASM on Dairy.  The teens will provide literacy support and activities based on their knowledge of the Dairy industry to students at Goldblatt Elementary School.  The students will also participate in a fundraiser on April 1 at the Oberweis Dairy Store in Oak Park.  They will be marketing, advertising and working the all day event.  Come out and support the students of ASM! 

Leap Learning Systems is committed to delivering cutting-edge language and literacy development programs to educators, students, and their families across Chicago and beyond, particularly those in underserved communities. We look forward to future endeavors in similar After School Matters programs.

Interested in helping further Leap Learning’s mission? Visit for more information and search volunteer opportunities.

Changing Worlds: A Success Story

A student works with a volunteer at Changing Worlds. Changing Worlds is one of One Good Deed Chicago's VolunTEAM partners.

by Jo Posselt, VP, Marketing & Development, Executive Service Corps

Changing Worlds is an educational art nonprofit whose mission is “to foster inclusive communities through oral history, writing and art programs that improve student learning, affirm identity and enhance cross-cultural understanding.”

One Good Deed Chicago connected Changing Worlds with the Executive Service Corps (ESC) of Chicago in September 2011 as part of the VolunTEAM program. ESC is a volunteer corps of nearly 300 men and women who use their skills and knowledge from long and successful careers to help other non-profits thrive.

The project is scheduled for completion in May, but the results to date are already a noticeable and satisfying success story on many levels for everyone involved, including the volunteers, the program staff and of course the children who benefit from these programs. 

Identifying needs

Changing Worlds Executive Director Mark Rodriguez points out that it was critical to the project’s success to create a clear direction at the beginning.

“We needed to be able to create an infrastructure for our volunteer program as well as a system and a process that would be sustainable when the project is over,” he said.

Patti Pangborn, Changing Worlds manager of office operations, finance and program support, said “we had a database we weren’t using, a wonderful core group of volunteers and no system or anyone on staff who could coordinate the volunteer experience or make it truly satisfying for the volunteer.  We weren’t fully utilizing our volunteer strength”

The ESC project management team, David Marienthal and Estelle Holzer, worked with Patti and Mark to evaluate specific needs. They then began identifying lasting solutions and immediate changes that could be readily implemented without additional workload burden or cost.  Both David and Estelle brought more than 20 years of experience in project and program management to the assignment and were able to make recommendations that produced immediate results.

Marienthal describes the process.

“We met every three weeks or so and tracked our progress together to ensure we had the solutions we needed,” he said. “First, we recommended the addition of a volunteer ‘volunteer coordinator’ position!  This focused more dedicated attention to an area of need and removed the additional workload burden from staff while we set up a process and procedures to get a structured volunteer management program set up.”

Seeing results

“Claire Gilbertsen is our new volunteer coordinator, a volunteer herself with lots of experience, who comes in two days a week to concentrate on this program,” Pangborn said. “We added a volunteer management module to our database to better track volunteer experiences, and we have begun putting together a handbook of policies and procedures and an orientation and recognition program for our volunteers.”

Rodriguez says “we value our volunteers and hope, through this project with ESC and One Good Deed, to advance our three primary goals toward 1) greater public awareness of our programs, 2) recruitment and retention of volunteers and, 3) fundraising to support our programs.”

As the economy struggles, as money from state and local governments dries up, and as donations and foundation monies shrink, non-profits are facing the perfect storm. Demand for their services is increasing dramatically, just as revenue sources are dwindling. The need for non-profits to improve their organizational performance is as important as it ever was. It’s ESC’s mission to help them.

To learn more about the Executive Service Corps of Chicago or apply to be an consultant, visit the ESC Website at  For a list of all 19 nonprofits currently in the One Good Deed Chicago’s VolunTEAM program, go to

Why volunteering makes sense, from a human resources professional

Volunteering can help you find your career path.

by Tony Rea, 20/20 HR LLC

There are many good reasons to volunteer your time and energy to a worthy cause. Volunteering can be rewarding whether you are currently employed or even if you are looking for work.

One of the strongest reasons to volunteer is the sense of fulfillment one gets from giving back to the community served by the nonprofit organization. You may volunteer because you are drawn to the mission of a particular nonprofit or because someone in your personal circle was helped in some way by that nonprofit.

You could volunteer you time assisting the nonprofit in their operations. A good example is the bell ringers during the holidays for the Salvation Army.

Another way to volunteer is to contribute your personal and / or professional expertise. Many nonprofits seek out this type of assistance which can be provided on a pro bono consulting basis or by serving as a board member. Board membership is typically built around having the right combination of business, marketing, accounting, legal and other professional level skills to lead the organization.

For those who are looking for work, this represents a “win-win” for both the individual and the nonprofit organization. What a great way to stay active and connected to your profession by giving back. For new graduates and those considering a career change, it is also a great way to break into a desired or new field of interest.

Volunteer experience looks good on a resume and can be helpful in covering employment gaps created by a period of unemployment. If you give of your professional skills, it will keep you sharp and also show initiative to any prospective employer. It also shows that you are resilient and respond to adversity in a positive and proactive way.

Volunteering can help improve your visibility through networking with people throughout your community. While most likely not a direct path to a position at the respective nonprofit, you will have the opportunity to meet and work with people within the nonprofit, those served by the nonprofit and possibly even influential board members.

While I don’t believe in spiritualism, I do believe that volunteering brings good karma!

Tony Rea is a human resources professional at Orland Park-based 20/20 HR, LLC.


This is part of a guest blogging series highlighting good deeds and volunteerism. If you have a story to tell, we want to hear it! Email alexandra.baird[at] for more information.

Three great ways to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is Monday, Jan. 16. Instead of taking a day off, “make it a day on” and commit to a service project or special activity in honor of his astounding legacy. Here are a few great ideas to get started:

1. Hear Geoffrey Canada Speak at the University of Chicago Celebration

On Thursday, Jan. 12, Geoffrey Canada will be the keynote speaker at U of C’s celebration. Canada is the founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York and a passionate advocate for education reform. The celebration kicks off Black Heritage Month at the University. The event is at 6 p.m. and is free. For information, visit

2. Attend an African Dance class at the Joffrey Academy

Fun for all ages, the prestigious Joffrey Academy of Dance will present an African Dance workshop on Monday, Jan. 16 in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for his influence on human rights. The class will be held from 12:30-1:30p.m. in the third floor of Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph Street; the cost is $10. To register, email reception[at] or call 312-784-4600 with your name and the number of guests in your party by 5 p.m. Jan. 13.

3. Serve!

– Calling all crafters! On Monday, Jan. 16, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority will engage in an in-depth conversation over breakfast on the legacy of MLK and the continuing challenges. Then, the group will put their words into action and engage in a service project, Operation Lap Wrap. The group will create comfort quilts for wounded service members, new mothers whose husbands are overseas in the military, and service members’ families and children for their hospital visits. The event will be held at the AKArama Community Service Center- 6220 S. Ingleside Ave in Chicago from 8:45 a.m. – 1 p.m., and brunch will be served. To RSVP, email mbell0415[at] or call Martha Bell at 773-374-2932.

– Start your spring cleaning early! One Good Deed Chicago partner Instituto del Progreso Latino will host a clothing drive for its client families on MLK Day. In preparation, Instituto is accepting donations at its 2520 S. Western Ave. location from 9 a.m. to noon every weekday through Jan. 13. For more information, call Yvonne Nieves at 773-890-8020 or email y.nieves[at]

Just added: Alternatives, Inc. is also hosting a clothing and supplies drive. For more info, click here.

For more, visit this great post from the Case Foundation.

Do you have any great ideas to share? Post them in the comments section, or Tweet us @OGDChicago.

One Good Deed Chicago will be taking part in Chicago Cares’ Celebration of Service on Jan. 14 and City Year’s day of service on Jan. 16. Keep an eye out for photos and updates!


One Chicago Scholar sees ‘eye to eye with the stars’

[Note:This is part of a guest blogging series highlighting good deeds across Chicago. If you have a story to share, we want to hear it! Email]

by Chicago Scholars staff

During her sophomore year of high school in 2005, Isabel Juarez moved with her parents and six siblings from Guatemala to Chicago. Isabel’s family had filed a United States visa application two decades earlier, before Isabel had even been born.

Although adjusting to a new country was very challenging, Isabel was able to cope with these social and cultural changes by focusing acutely on her education at Schurz High School.

“Making friends was a little bit of a challenge,” she recalls. “Fortunately, the academics were not, and I could easily concentrate on my classes, which was one of the ways I dealt with any challenges that came culturally.”

Isabel envisioned pursuing a college education.

“I wanted to start looking at college programs,” she explains. “Although the guidance in my high school was directed toward encouraging students to attend community college and vocational programs, I was determined to be my own counselor and discover what other college opportunities were available.”

Isabel’s opportunity came in the form of a fellow student on the Schurz debate team, who told Isabel about Chicago Scholars.

“It sounded like a perfect fit,” she says. “Like many students accepted into the Chicago Scholars Foundation, I was the first one applying to college in my family.  Although my family supported my education, they did not have the resources or the answers to my college questions. Chicago Scholars was able to provide workshops and one-on-one college counseling that taught me to be a self-sufficient student.  They taught me not only how to apply to college, but also how to decide which school is right for me that can meet my educational and financial needs.”

Isabel has even brought what she has learned to an unofficial mentorship for her little brother, Pedro, who is now in the Chicago Scholars class of 2015.

After graduating from high school with a place in Pomona College, she spent a gap year with the international development program, Thinking Beyond Borders, where she traveled the globe and studied topics such as sustainable development, public health and education.

“After getting accepted into Pomona … I felt more compelled than ever to continue reaching and expanding my educational experiences,” she said. “I would not have had this confidence in my educational goals if it had not been for Chicago Scholars. This organization, this astronomical family, wants their scholars to literally be on top of the world and see eye to eye with the stars we are reaching for.”

Chicago Scholars continues to serve as a guide that not only provides options for their students, but gives them the opportunity to choose which option is right for them.

To learn more about Chicago Scholars and the opportunity to be a mentor, visit its profile on the One Good Deed Chicago site, or contact Linda Jamrozy at

Chicago Scholars is part of the One Good Deed Chicago Success Coaches program.