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Dear Supporters, Partners, and Friends:

Message From The CEO

Like most organizations, our work has been dramatically impacted by the challenges of 2020. These unprecedented times call for an extraordinary response. Medical professionals, essential workers, and countless others have stepped up to support the growing needs of our country and world during this time. For the millions in Illinois impacted by job loss, we’re proud to support your efforts to get back to work, and know a job is essential. During 2020, Skills has remained open for business and is working harder than ever to support the growing and changing needs of both the unemployed and business community.

The pandemic has exacerbated challenges unemployed community members on Chicago’s south and west sides were already facing, creating even more barriers to employment. Racial injustices permeating our society have been elevated to the surface and must be addressed. Skills’ mission to provide equitable access to jobs is critical during this time of extreme inequalities, and employment must remain part of the solution as we work to close the racial wealth and access gap our society faces.

Our focus remains on the Power of a Job, the impact of being employed. Jobs are transformative and it is thrilling to see that despite the tribulations of 2020, Skills surpassed 8,000 people placed into jobs since we started in 2012. Jackie, Jasmine, Gerome, Irey, Yakela, the list goes on to hundreds of more people who were able to find a piece of hope to hold onto during 2020 because they were able to get a job and support their families.

The critical piece to making that list of people whose lives have been changed because of a jobs even longer is you. If all of us -- the committed corporate community, the nonprofit community, funders, civic leaders, and government -- lock arms and find holistic solutions to address the present and historic challenges our neighbors in Chicago and across the country face. Together we can do this.

As we focus on 2021, we hope you will join us as and bring the power of a job to more individuals who need it most. Thank you for your support.

Equity is our Focus

Black people are being systematically murdered, and continue to be the victims of violence and racist acts – the list of names is painfully too extensive to list.  This has never been acceptable, and must stop now.

Racism, oppression and violence against African-Americans cannot continue to be met with silence or a lack of action.

As an organization, we exist to level the economic playing field by closing the access gap and ending unemployment - a pervasive challenge that especially plagues communities of color.  We are committed to action, and are fueled by a desire for equity, inclusivity, economic opportunity and justice. Together we can all work together to create more inclusive ways to change the economic trajectory of unemployed job seekers.  We must never go back to the way things were.

To learn more about racial inequality's effect on economic opportunity, we've created an interactive site full of insights for your convenience.


Our Mission and Vision

Our Mission – Create demand-driven solutions for employers to get the unemployed and underemployed to work.

Our Vision – Continuously meet employers’ talent needs to create economic opportunity for the unemployed and underemployed.

Puzzle Piece

Methodology: Jobs-First; Driven By Demand

We bring a consultative approach to the unique hiring demand of individual business partners. By starting with the job first, we recruit talented, unemployed and underemployed job-ready candidates from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Inclusive and equitable hiring allows for direct impact on individuals seeking employment and the companies hiring talent.


Skills' core focus remains set on reducing barriers to employment and increasing access to jobs for unemployed and underemployed community members across the Chicagoland area. The data below tells the story of that impact.

Cumulative Impact

0 +
Placed Job Seekers
0 +
Employer Partners
More earned by Skills Placements per year
Skills' 2-year ROI

2020 Placements & Job Seeker Insights


Placements into Jobs


$ M
Annualized Wages of Placements


Pre-Employment Services


Average Age: 29 %
25+ years old





2020 Placements by Neighborhood

Heat Map

Top 10 placement locations

Austin 58
South Shore 57
North Lawndale 32
Near West Side 28
Auburn Gresham 27
Chatham 27
Greater Grand Crossing 27
Roseland 24
East Garfield Park 24
Humboldt Park 23


In response to COVID-19, Skills developed two new programs to fill the gap created by newly laid off and furloughed workers in need of guidance on where to take their career.

Career Navigator

The Career Navigator program was developed to help those who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a goal of helping them pivot their careers into in-demand fields. We help participants become competitive job seekers by mastering interview skills, developing a tailored resume, creating an attractive LinkedIn, and practicing interview skills with real recruiters. In addition to training, there is also a stipend for participants who complete the program of $599. Upon completion, participants work with the program manager to find the next step in their career path whether that be a job, further education, or additional support from a community organization.

Layoff Intake Center

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, many employers were forced to layoff a large number of staff. Employers forced into layoffs could use Skills as a resource for their laid-off staff. This program provides the skills and resources necessary for newly laid-off job seekers to avoid long-term unemployment, interview successfully, and rejoin the workforce quickly. 

Essential Hiring During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Supporting the Rapid Hiring Needs of Essential Businesses

At the onset of the COVID – 19 Pandemic, Skills pivoted it's focus to key industries and employer partners that were vital to the health and wellness of the Chicagoland area. These businesses in essential front-line industries: healthcare, supply chain management, and essential retail needed hundreds of new staff to support the needs of the community.

These employers accounted for 72% of the hires through the first wave of the pandemic.

Rapid Hiring


At the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Skills saw business clients stop hiring, begin layoffs, furloughs, and reduce the hours of their workers. To combat this growing gap in the opportunity we were able to pivot and onboard new employer partners within industries that were seeing an increase in demand due to the pandemic, and as the economy began to rebound in the later half of the year, expand to support the needs of our long-time hiring partners.

A Safe Haven
East Bank Club
Freedman Seating Company
Levy Restaurants
Ssp America
City of Chicago
Ulta Beauty


Job Readiness Training, Career Pathways, and College to Career Programs

Beyond direct job placement services, Skills provides Chicago's youth and adults opportunities for career pathways and gives access to training and certifications all with the guidance and support of our career coaches.


Job Readiness Training

This program has evolved from a job readiness curriculum taught to high school juniors/seniors into a full suite of job readiness offerings for all ages. We have adapted and expanded the program to include high schoolers, college students, and employed youth.

876 Job Seekers Served | 140 Hours of Virtual Training | 10+ Participating Organizations

Pivot To Success

Career Pathway Programs

Career Pathways provide individuals a job paired with education and/or certification attainment, supported by mentoring services. This program sets participants up for immediate success in their role and a long-term career path. 

30 Job seekers Placed | 4 Employer Partners | 4 Educational Partners

U 2.0

College to Careers

U2.0 is focused on accelerating the careers of Chicagoland’s recent college graduates and helping them avoid underemployment by aligning their skillset with the current climate of business demand.  

18 recent college grads placed into jobs


Gerome UCM-1

Gerome Jackson | Housekeeping Assistant, UChicago Medicine

Gerome Jackson enjoyed his career at a shared workspace company until the early effects of COVID-19 caused many of the businesses in the building he serviced to shut down leading him to unemployment. His two-month job search brought him to Skills for Chicagoland's Future though he recalled initially discovering Skills close to 7 years ago, through a job fair.  Once he reconnected, he was selected for a group interview with one of the Skills recruiters and recommended for the Housekeeping role with the University of Chicago Medical Center all within a matter of 2 weeks. After completing the required background check, he excitedly accepted an offer, despite his family’s initial fear of the potential health risk he would be facing.

Less than two months into his role, Gerome exceeded all expectations and has been promoted.

"I enjoy my job and appreciate the opportunity to work at the University of Chicago"

Irey Kirby

Irey Kirby | Store Associate, Jewel Osco

Irey Kirby, a resident of Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood, was out of work for several months after parting ways with his role as a delivery driver.  Though he was looking for work,  he was unable to land a job, and  COVID –19 made this process even harder. “My unemployment benefits were about to run out,” he remembers, and he was starting to get nervous about where to turn. Irey initially used traditional online job boards and career websites in hopes of finding something that would work for him. Unfortunately, most of his searches would lead to dead ends. Then, in late March, he came across Skills for Chicagoland’s Future.  He recalled it only took two weeks from the time he discovered Skills that he had been offered a permanent position with Jewel Osco. Skills’ team prepared Irey and helped him through the interview process with Jewel Osco.

"I'm happy to have a permanent position with a company that cares about my health and safety given the current times."


Yakela Hall | Bank Teller, Wintrust Bank

Yakela Hall is no stranger to the world of financial services. She started her journey working with other major banking institutions but wanted more for herself. She had hopes of moving closer to Chicago to take advantage of all the opportunities the city has to offer. After seeing positions promoted by Skills on Indeed, she decided to apply for a role with Wintrust Bank and was promptly connected with a Skills recruiter. Resume and interview coaching gave her the confidence and excitement she needed to make a positive impression and ultimately received an offer as a Bank Teller at Wintrust Bank.

"I love that I'm apart of a communal, friendly culture here and overall give my experience with Skills 5 stars!"


2020 Referring Partners

At Skills we are a proud part of the workforce ecosystem of the Chicagoland area. The relationships and partnerships we have with local CBOs (Community Based Organizations) were further reinforced and strengthened and solidified in 2020 amidst the pandemic and drastic increase in need of our collective services. Below is a list of organizations that referred job seekers to Skills for job placement in 2020.

  • Above and Beyond
  • By the Hand Club for Kids
  • Cara Chicago
  • Centers for Changing Lives
  • Chicago Scholars
  • Chicago State University
  • The Community Builders
  • Free Lunch Academy
  • Growing Home Inc.
  • Heartland Alliance
  • Housing Opportunities for Women
  • Housing Forward
  • Instituto del Progreso Latino
  • Lift Chicago
  • Lyte Collective
  • Loyola Arrupe College
  • MAAFA Redemption Project
  • Moraine Valley Community College
  • Metropolitan Family Services
  • Mercy Home
  • Mercy Housing
  • My Block, My Hood, My City
  • National Louis University
  • North Lawndale Employment Network
  • New Life Covenant
  • Noble Network
  • Preservation of Affordable Housing
  • North Lawndale College Prep
  • Roosevelt University
  • St. Sabina Employment Resource Center
  • UCAN
  • Urban Alliance
  • Youth Guidance
  • YWCA

In 2020, Skills placed over 300 job seekers from a cluster of communities in and around Englewood under the Skills Neighborhood Link initiative. Though unable to meet in person in 2020, our southside office is primed a ready to open its doors once it is safe to do so in 2021.

Englewood Community Residents are Now Employed by:

East Bank Club
Levy Restaurants
Ultr Beauty
A Safe Heaven


Over 500 people attended Skills for Chicagoland’s Future’s 6th Annual Employment Champions Breakfast on October 30th to discuss these solutions. The majority of guests viewed the program virtually and an exclusive group of 25 leaders gathered, socially distant, at the Hyatt Regency. Ulta Beauty, the Chicago Urban League, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois were honored for their tremendous work throughout the year. This year’s breakfast raised over $1 million.

Join us for the 2021 Employment Champions Breakfast on October 5th!


Champion for the Unemployed

Urban League

Advocate for the Unemployed


Champion for Community Impact

Thank you to our 2020 Sponsors!



Since Skills’ creation, there has always been a desire to scale our model nationally once it was proven to be successful in two vastly different sites - Chicago and Rhode Island. In 2020, Skills doubled down on our expansion plans and, due to a generous gift from an anonymous board member, hired a Director of National Expansion to drive and implement the strategy.

Vertical White
Direct Hire Placements
Placements Through Training Programs
$ +M
Annualized Wages

Economic Opportunity Challenge

Skills for Chicagoland’s Future was honored to be selected as a finalist for the Lever for Change Economic Opportunity Challenge, a national competition for funding to improve economic opportunity for low-income individuals within the United State. Lever for Change, an affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, chose Skills’ plan for national expansion to be a top-five finalist out of 160 applicants. As a finalist, Skills received $100,000 to help fund national expansion plans and the anonymous donors are excited to help Skills secure additional funds. As a finalist, Skills is now featured in the Lever for Change Bold Solutions Network to expose new funders to our work.


Interested in the Skills Model?

Learn more about how the impact a jobs-first model can bring to your city or region.


Skills is keenly aware that the COVID-19 crisis has led to an unemployment crisis, leaving many Chicagoans struggling to make ends meet. Funding support from government organizations, corporations, foundations, and individuals has made it possible to respond swiftly to the needs of the region during these unprecedented times.


$500,000 +
  • City of Chicago, Department of Family Support Services
  • JPMorgan Chase Foundation
  • McDonald's
$100,000 - $499,999
  • Anonymous
  • Chicago Community Trust: Bridges to Brighter Futures
  • International Youth Foundation
  • Lever for Change
  • Motorola Solutions & Motorola Solutions Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation
  • Pritzker Traubert Foundation
  • Walgreens
$25,000 - $99,999
  • A Better Chicago
  • Accenture
  • Aon Hewitt
  • AT&T
  • Bank of America Foundation
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
  • CDW
  • Crown Family Philanthropies
  • Exelon
  • Finnegan Family Foundation
  • Grosvenor Capital Management
  • Hyatt Hotels
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Mayer & Morris Kaplan Foundation
  • Paul M. Angell Foundation
  • Sanmina Corporation
  • Stand Together Foundation
  • The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
  • UL / Underwriters Lab
  • Ulta Beauty
  • United Way of Metro Chicago
  • ValueAct
$10,000 - $24,999
  • A.N. and Pearl G. Barnett Foundation
  • AIM Specialty Health
  • ARCO Murray
  • Ariel Investments, LLC
  • BMO Harris Bank
  • Cariloop
  • Challenger, Gray, and Christmas
  • CLA Foundation
  • CNO Financial Group
  • Deloitte
  • DLA Piper LLC
  • ECMC Foundation
  • EY
  • Freedman Seating
  • GoHealth
  • Goldman Sachs
  • HUB International
  • Ingredion inc.
  • ITW Foundation
  • James Hardie
  • Jewel Osco
  • KPMG
  • McKinsey & Company
  • Morningstar
  • NorthShore University Health System
  • Owens Family Foundation
  • Supply Hive
  • The Duchossois Family Foundation
  • UKG
  • University of Chicago & University of Chicago Medicine
  • Walmart
  • Wintrust
$500 - $9,999
  • Anonymous
  • Associated Bank
  • CBRE
  • Chicago Community Trust
  • Grainger
  • Huntington Bank
  • Kin+Carta
  • LOUD Capital
  • Manulife Investment Management
  • Mayer Brown, LLP
  • MetLife
  • Midway Partnership
  • ORBA
  • Plexus Groupe
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Protiviti
  • Prudential
  • Shaker Recruitment Marketing
  • TrueBlue
  • Unum
  • Voya
  • Weiss, Sugar, Dvorak & Dusek, LTD.


$50,000 - $100,000
  • Dennis and Joan Berger
  • Greg and Anna Brown
  • Mark Hoplamazian and Rachel Kohler
$10,000 - $49,999
  • Mike & Cindy Bonds
  • John & Rita Canning Foundation
  • Chris Corley
  • Andy Eichfeld & Nancy Crowe
  • The Chez Family
  • Rich Floersch
  • Mark and Pam Kendall
  • Hunter Philbrick
  • Joe and Elizabeth Pomerenke
  • Nicholas and Susan Pritzker through their donor-advised fund, The Scorpio Rising Fund, at Vanguard Charitable
  • Margot and Thomas Pritzker Family Foundation
  • The Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation
  • Michael D. Scimo Family
$5,000 - $9,999
  • Patrick Beharelle
  • Jeffrey Bilek
  • Joseph & Stacy Blasko
  • Carolyn Booth
  • Michele Carlin
  • John Challenger
  • Jeff Childs
  • Brian Cook
  • Bevin Desmond
  • Yvonne Franzese
  • Mark Hacker
  • Joseph High
  • Elizabeth Hofstetter
  • Seema Kathuria
  • Julie Loeger
  • William Luehrs
  • Marie & John Lynch
  • Kelly Manthey
  • Kristin Oliver
  • Terry Peterson
  • Jennifer Scanlon
  • Glenn Tilton
  • Kathleen Wilson-Thompson
$1,000 - $4,999
  • Amy Best
  • Hillary Bochniak
  • Sharon Brady
  • William Broderick
  • John Compall
  • Bill & Betsy Cook
  • Gillian Darlow
  • Mary Dillon
  • Derek Douglas
  • Margaret Egan
  • Craig Freedman
  • John Hildy
  • Faiyaz & Mahrukh Hussain
  • Sudi Bjornstad Korba
  • Eileen & Jim Mitchell
  • Malaika Myers
  • Nazneen Razi
  • Eric Stevenson
  • Michael Trzupek
  • Manika Turnbull
  • Marc Ugol
  • Michael & Michelle Warner Family Fund
  • Kenyatta Young
$250 - $999
  • Melissa Berscheid
  • Jill Bishop
  • Frank Burke
  • Michael Chiappetta
  • Liz Connelly
  • Frederick Dearborn
  • Paul DeSousa
  • Evelyn Diaz
  • Melissa Donaldson
  • Ryan Feeney
  • Sikita Grayson
  • Rob Grubka
  • The Herlihy Charitable Foundation
  • Shawn Hajek
  • Matt Johanson
  • Carol Lobbes
  • Cailyn Mittur
  • Brian Montgomery
  • Tracey Morgan
  • Carolyn Nopar
  • Sammy Patel
  • Mary Ellen Schopp
  • Ramesh Siripuram
  • Peter Tobin
  • Maria Toliopoulos
  • Susan Wilson
  • Audrey Williams-Lee
  • Casey Zgutowicz
$100 - $249
  • Allison Angeloni
  • Jordan Buller
  • Tiana Carter
  • Daniel Cervantes
  • Sarah Cigrang
  • Clarence Ewing
  • Teresa Farias
  • Karen Freeman-Wilson
  • Vanessa George
  • Jacqueline Gomez
  • Meredith Grogan
  • Andrea Helms
  • James Hommer
  • Ashley Joyce
  • Patricia Kendall
  • Lauren Killeen
  • Thomas & Linda Lynch
  • Kathleen Madigan
  • Nikki Massey
  • Molly McCabe
  • Rob McCloskey
  • Thomas McMahon
  • Sherrie Medina
  • Ethan Moore
  • Steve Ogo
  • John-Paul Paonessa
  • Anita Ryan
  • Clarita Santos
  • Daniel Sasu
  • Alyssa Shaw
  • Michael Simanek
  • Tanille Smith
  • Rob Sorum
  • Michael Walsh
  • Erika Weiman
  • Susan Wilson
  • Laura Anderson
  • Anonymous
  • Virginia Aylesworth
  • Christine Binotti
  • Sarah Black
  • Shannon Bradford
  • Jai Brown
  • Ben Bundy
  • Elizabeth Byrne
  • Kyle Clauss
  • Daniel Coster
  • Brenda Cranmer
  • Emily Day
  • Fred Fedewa
  • Felipe Fisher
  • Bonnie Fong
  • Matt Gilmore
  • Jon Greenfield
  • Daniel Hao
  • Vanessa Hernandez
  • Kelly Holmes
  • Ruth Ann Horbaczewski
  • Kevin Irvine
  • Courtney Johnson
  • Carrie Jost
  • Nicole Jovicevic
  • Matthew Kmiec
  • Melissa Knowski
  • Matt Leonard
  • Jack Lynch
  • Maureen Margalus
  • Theo Marshall
  • Mara Martini
  • Daniel Matuszewski
  • Meredith McLuckie
  • Emily Mike
  • Nicole Moore
  • Mariella Palacios
  • Trisha Payne
  • Larry Pevnick
  • Kristen Pitzen
  • George Poulos
  • Kirsten Powers
  • Dalia Rocotello
  • Mary Ann Roeser
  • Lorrie Rose
  • Colin Sanders-Estrada
  • Joan Schaper
  • Jackie Schulz
  • Fran Scott
  • Meghan Selz
  • Cristian Sirera
  • Alexander Small
  • Sasha Srain
  • Meredith Stevens
  • Deborah Teska
  • Matthew Towson
  • Eugene Trzupek
  • Eric Uebelhor
  • Kim Urso
  • Constantine Vutsas
  • Franziska Weber
  • Kevin Wilson
  • Beth Young
  • Doris Young


Mark S. HoplamazianChair
President and Chief Executive Officer, Hyatt Hotels Corporation

Elizabeth HofstetterVice Chair
Human Resources Business Partner Executive, JP Morgan Chase

Marie Trzupek LynchPresident & CEO
Skills for Chicagoland’s Future

Michael BondsTreasurer
Former Executive Vice President, Human Resources & Labor Relations, United Airlines

Elizabeth Adefioye, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Ingredion Incorporated

Patrick Beharelle, President & CEO, TrueBlue Outsourcing Solutions

Dennis Berger, Chief Culture Officer, Suffolk

Amy E. Best, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Exelon Corporation

Jeff Bilek, Partner, Central Talent Leader, EY

Hillary Bochniak, Managing Director, Human Resources, Accenture

Carolyn Booth, Head of Distribution, US Personal and Business Banking, BMO Harris Bank

Heidi Capozzi, EVP, Global Chief People Officer, McDonald's

John Challenger, CEO, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Jeff Childs, Chief Human Resources Officer, Ulta Beauty

Christina Corley, Chief Commercial and Operating Officer, CDW

Gillian Darlow, Chief Executive Officer, Polk Bros Foundation

Bevin Desmond, Head of Talent and Culture, Morningstar

Melissa Donaldson, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, Wintrust Financial Corporation

Derek Douglas, Vice President, Civic Engagement, University of Chicago

Andy Eichfeld, EVP, Chief Human Resources & Administrative Officer, Discover Financial Services

Rich Floersch, Senior Strategic Advisor, HR Policy Association

Yvonne Franzese, Chief Human Resources Officer, CNO Financial Group, Inc.

Craig Freedman, CEO, Freedman Seating Co.

Mark Hacker, Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Chief Administrative Officer, Motorola Solutions

Seema Kathuria, Managing Director, Russell Reynolds

Mark Kendall, Executive Vice President, Hub International

Sudi Bjornstad Korba, Vice President of Sales, Ultimate Software

Hillary Leisten, Chief Human Resources Officer, Walgreens

William Luehrs, Chief Human Resources Officer, NorthShore University HealthSystem

Kelly Manthey, Group Chief Executive, Kin + Carta Americas

Eileen Mitchell, President of AT&T Illinois, AT&T

Malaika Myers, Chief Human Resources Officer, Hyatt Hotels Corporation

Terry Peterson, Vice President, Corporate and External Affairs, Rush University Medical Center

Mike ScimoFormer Managing Director, Accenture

Eric Stevenson, Director, Human Resources, Education & Management Development, Jewel Osco

Manika Turnbull, Ph.D., Divisional Senior Vice President, Workforce, Talent & Business Engagement, Health Care Service Corporation

Keith Wyche, Vice President, Community Engagement & Support, Walmart

Kenyatta Young, Senior Vice President, Chicago Market Human Resources Manager, Bank of America


Special thanks to these organizations and individuals who graciously provided Skills in-kind support during 2020.

Stand Together
Jenner & Block, LLP
Jasculca Terman Strategic Comm.
Mark Kendall
Rich Sypniewski, Sagin LLC
Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Strategic Talent Solutions
Nazneen Razi
Blanche Anglea