3 Organizations Making a Difference in Chicago

The Chicago Ideas platform is designed to elevate ideas to inspire action. We have been thrilled to partner with the Alvin H. Baum Family Fund this year, which is committed to bettering the lives and work of people who live in the Chicagoland area.

As part of our efforts to highlight organizations who are making an impact in Chicago, we are excited to highlight Alvin H. Baum Family Fund grantees, who have each contributed their time and energy to changing the lives of Chicagoans.  

Read more about the grantees below. Share on social which ideas motivate you to make positive change in the world.

Aspiritech: Empowering Lives Through Technology

Founded in 2008, Aspiritech was the first company in North America to recognize that the strengths of autism can be a vocational asset in the technology field. Aspiritech trains and then directly employs qualified individuals on the autism spectrum in the areas of software testing and quality assurance.

Aspiritech currently employs 61 individuals with autism with seven more in training. Eleven others used their training and experience at Aspiritech to transition into competitive employment in IT. Aspiritech leverages the unique abilities of these analysts to offer high quality, competitively priced, onshore software testing services to a growing number of companies.

As a leader in the field of employing individuals with autism in technology, Aspiritech is a founding member of Neuroworx, a global alliance to accelerate the employment of individuals on the autism spectrum in STEM.

To learn more or to get involved, visit:


Design for Dignity: Empowering Lives Through Design  

Since their founding in 2000, Design for Dignity (D4D) has re-deployed over $7.5 million dollars worth of furnishings and materials into 150-plus nonprofit organizations throughout greater Chicago. They have impacted the lives of 640,000 individuals, both clients and staff, at these non-profits by harnessing pro bono design talent of hundreds of designers.

D4D has been hallmarked as a “recycling program for designers” and has propelled a movement for all types of design/ build professionals to come together for the same cause. D4D has chapters in Chicago, as well as New York and is soon to be opening in San Francisco.

To learn more or join the movement, visit:


Merit School of Music: Empowers Lives Through Music  

Merit School of Music has committed itself to giving the Chicago youth access to high-quality music education since 1979.  Merit’s primary goals are to help young people transform their lives and experience personal growth through music by removing barriers to participation.

With over 1oo dedicated teaching artists, Merit engages over 5,000 students annually. For over 30 years, Merit has achieved a unique pathway for its students with its programs, which award need-based financial aid or scholarships. More than one-third of

Merit’s budget is allocated to student support, with nearly 70 percent of students receiving direct financial assistance. Merit also has a virtually 100 percent success rate amongst its graduating students, who all move towards a conservatory, college, or university.

To learn more or to donate, visit:

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