Chicago Urban League


  • What sets the organization apart:

    To address these disparities, the League has adapted its services and facilities through the years to meet the changing needs of the time, including advancements in technology. With hundreds of individuals visiting the League each week, we serve as a resource to the community, not only for clients of our programs, but also for community organizations that host meetings and workshops in the space. While a number of organizations provide services in one or more areas in which the League works—youth education, housing, workforce development, leadership development, entrepreneurship support, and policy advocacy—no other entity encompasses all of these areas and specifically focuses on Chicago’s African American community. The League takes a holistic approach to addressing the challenges of the city’s African Americans and frequently partners with other organizations to deliver services. For instance, a number of major employers that seek to hire from African American neighborhoods use our facility as a convenient location to recruit and interview people in the surrounding community.

  • Mission Statement

    The Chicago Urban League works for economical, educational and social progress for African Americans and promotes strong, sustainable communities through advocacy, collaboration and innovation.

  • Execution summary of the impact of the organization’s work in 2019

    "FY19 Chicago Urban League Key Highlights Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation helps African Americans launch, grow, and sustain businesses.  Served 1,054 clients through our Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.  Businesses receiving support created 121 new jobs, developed 16 new businesses, and obtained $35.5 million in new contracts. Center for Student Development provides a continuum of educational programming to promote academic success among students in middle school through college freshmen.
     Served 464 students and 166 parents.  100% of high school senior participants graduated and were accepted into college to enter in the fall of 2019.  100% of middle school and high school participants were on-track for high school graduation.  CFSD senior participants obtained over $3.5 million in scholarships.Housing & Financial Empowerment Center assists African Americans to build wealth and increase economic security through financial literacy, homebuyer, and foreclosure prevention programming.  Over 2,000 clients received one-on-one financial coaching and first-time homebuyer or mortgage delinquency counseling.
     750 clients lowered their debt and 750 increased their credit score.  10% of clients who were ready to purchase a home became homeowners, and 7% of clients experiencing foreclosure retained their home. Human Capital helps youth reduce involvement with the criminal justice system, and improve academic performance and socioemotional competencies among high-risk male and female youth.  Served 885 male and female participants.  87% of students improved academic performance in core courses  93% of participants attending school reduced the number of disciplinary infractions, and 94% of participants did not have new involvement with the criminal justice system.
    IMPACT Leadership Development Program prepares mid-career African American professionals for positions of higher representation and responsibility in Chicago.  Supported over 170 Fellows since the program launch in 2014.  More than 110 corporations, nonprofit, and government entities have sent executives through IMPACT.  97% built confidence in their leadership abilities, 94% increased their knowledge of leadership skills, and 100% increased their awareness of key issues impacting African Americans.
    Research & Policy Center provides research, landscape analyses and pragmatic, evidence-based recommendations for issues that disproportionately affect African Americans. Partners with policymakers and other organizations to support educational and legislative efforts designed to lessen the impact of policies and practices that disadvantage African Americans.  Published two key reports: The 2019 State of Black Chicago and Money and Power: The Economic and Political Impact of the 2020 Census on Illinois.  Supported 43 pieces of legislation to address inequities in education, jobs, public health and safety, and democracy and justice. Workforce Development Center raises African American employment and income levels through job training and placement services, career exposure, career advancement support services, coaching and long-term retention strategies.  Hosted 94 onsite “Featured Employer” events, which resulted in more than 500 hires.  Organized a successful Citywide Job Fair with 75 employers and over 2,300 attendees.
     Served over 1,000 youth and adults through Center activities and services, which more than 700 obtained employment."

  • Established/Founding Date

    December 1, 1916

  • Organization’s History

    Organized in 1916, the Chicago Urban League was one of the first affiliates of the National Urban League. The Urban League movement aimed to address the needs of African Americans migrating from the rural South to northern cities in unprecedented numbers at the dawn of the 20th century. Founded by an interracial group of organizers, our League met individuals at Central Station as they arrived in trains from the South and connected them with housing and jobs. Before the end of World War I in 1918, the League had found jobs for more than 8,000 Black Chicago residents. The organization was active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and in the 1970s was especially active in education, employment and voter registration. The League continues to support and advocate for educational, economic and social progress for African Americans by directly addressing the issues that stem from racial inequity.

  • CEO/Executive Director

    Karen Freeman-Wilson

  • Size of Organization’s Staff


  • Diversity of Staff

    More than 50%

  • Current Operating Budget


  • Education Level of Primary Target Population

    No HS Diploma, High School Diploma/GED, Some College, No Degree, College Grad


Contact Information

  • Address
    4510, South Michigan Avenue, Washington Park, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, 60653, United States of America
  • Phone
  • Website
  • Zip/Post Code

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