Honoring The University of Chicago Service League

For 60 years of philanthropic support to HPNC

This year HPNC’s Philanthropic Award will go the University of Chicago Service League, a local organization that provides financial support to area nonprofits and studies “social questions and promotes social intercourse.” In addition to it’s philanthropic work, the League holds monthly meetings and a variety of social and cultural programs and study groups.

The Service League has contributed to  HPNC since 1957! In fact, the Service League and HPNC share a common history dating back more than a century. For example, both organizations were started in part through the efforts of Mrs. William Rainy Harper and Hyde Park members of the settlement house and juvenile justice movements. With the relatively young University of Chicago introducing a new field of Sociology, many turn of the (20th) century Hyde Parkers shared a common interest in promoting the health and well-being of urban children and families. Much of their work is as relevant today as ever.

A characteristic that makes the Service League somewhat unique among today’s philanthropic organizations is that the annual contribution required of its approximately 400 members is a relatively modest $30 each – which makes high-impact philanthropic work easily accessible, even to those with limited income.

In addition to it’s membership fees, the League raises funds through special fundraising activities such as their annual Homecoming Benefit and Bazaar. Funds from this  and other events are combined with membership dues and donated in aggregate to support the activities of five local nonprofit organizations, including HPNC, Chicago Commons, Delta Literacy, St. Martin De Porres House of Hope, and the Hyde Park Kenwood Interfaith Council Hunger Programs.Through their combined efforts, members of the Service League are able to make a much greater impact than any one individual would

In the recent past, the Service League’s annual donation to HPNC helped to support the purchase of the bus (2011) that we use to pick children up from school each day, facility renovations (2016), and general operating expenses throughout. The League’s willingness to give toward facility repair and general operating expenses sets it apart from the many philanthropic organizations that will only support direct program expenses. Programming is surely deserving and central to our mission, but behind every great program are essential support staff such as the receptionists who check people in each day, the accountant, and the maintenance staff. And in HPNC’s case, behind every great program is also a facility that requires ongoing maintenance and repairs.

We are grateful for the Service League’s confidence in our work, and their understanding that our staff and our building-and the many unglamorous, daily expenses that are involved-are essential to our ability to provide the high-quality year-round programing that every child and family deserves.  For information or to join the Service League, visit their website.