Cradle Society

supporting you always

aka The Cradle   |   Evanston, IL   |


Building families through adoption. Supporting families through life's challenges. Strengthening communities through education.

Ruling year info


President & CEO

Jason Friedman

Main address

2049 Ridge Avenue

Evanston, IL 60201 USA

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NTEE code info

Adoption (P31)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

As a nonprofit child welfare and adoption agency, The Cradle centers its services and programs around protecting and advancing the well-being of vulnerable children whose parents are considering their options, including the choice of adoption. In addition, The Cradle provides lifelong support to all members of the adoption circle – the adopted person, the birth parent(s) and family member(s), the adoptive parent(s) and family member(s), professional service providers, as well as the community that supports the aforementioned peoples.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

The Cradle

The Cradle provides an array of ethical services for infants, expectant parents, adoptive parents and adopted persons, regardless of race, religion, age, sexual preference, socioeconomic background, disability or other factors. Each year, The Cradle facilitates domestic and international adoptions, and our onsite Nursery admits newborn babies whose birth parents are considering an adoption plan. The Cradle's Expectant Parent Services counselors provide compassionate guidance and support to hundreds of women each year who are facing an unplanned pregnancy. Services for adoptive parents include counseling, home studies and comprehensive education on raising an adopted child. The Ardythe and Gale Sayers Center for African American Adoption is committed to finding stable, nurturing families for black and biracial babies, who comprise around 40% of our annual domestic placements. The Cradle's award-winning, online educational resource,, offers interactive e-learning courses and webinars on a wide range of adoption-related topics. Finally, we provide extensive post adoption resources and support to Cradle adult adoptees, birth parents and adoptive families through our Center for Lifelong Adoption Support.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

The Cradle is the only U.S. adoption agency with an onsite, 24-hour newborn nursery. In continuous operation since 1923, The Cradle Nursery offers new parents who are weighing an adoption decision a safe, temporary, nurturing home for their babies. This extraordinary service is provided free of charge and with no obligation or pressure to complete an adoption plan. The Nursery welcomes any baby referred to our care, including those with special medical needs. Around half of the babies admitted to the Nursery each year are at risk for medical or developmental issues. Our team of nurses and infant aides, working closely with affiliated pediatricians and specialists, ensures that every baby has the plan of care they need to give them the best possible start in life.

Population(s) Served
Infants and toddlers

In 1999, The Cradle's African American Infant Adoption Program was renamed in honor of legendary Chicago Bears running back, NFL Hall of Fame inductee and Cradle adoptive parent, Gale Sayers, and his wife Ardythe. The goal of the Sayers Center is to find permanent, loving homes for African American and biracial babies. To accomplish this, we conduct extensive outreach to the African American community in greater metropolitan Chicago - educating people about adoption as a positive way of building families; dispelling myths about adoption; and recruiting African Americans as adoptive parents. Another goal of the Sayers Center is to give expectant women of color a greater choice of prospective adoptive families, should they desire a same-race placement.

Population(s) Served
People of African descent
Infants and toddlers

Every year, hundreds women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy contact The Cradle for information or to make an appointment with a Cradle counselor to explore their options. Every woman who seeks The Cradle’s help receives compassionate guidance and support. Our typical expectant parent client is 18-28 years old (although we see women ranging in age from their early teens to mid-forties), single, lower income and with a high school education. The majority of these women are uninsured or under-insured, and many are just marginally employed, with no sick pay, maternity leave or other benefits. More than half are already parenting other children. All services for Cradle expectant parent clients - including use of The Cradle Nursery - are provided free of charge, regardless of whether they complete an adoption plan. In addition to the Nursery, The Cradle offers a mentoring program that matches trained birth mothers with women who are in the process of making an adoption plan, as well as material assistance with day-to-day necessities such as rent, transportation, maternity clothes and groceries.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls

In 2002 The Cradle launched (ALP), with a single online course, "Conspicuous Families." Since then, this award-winning site has grown to include a catalog of 70 e-courses and recorded webinars on a wide range of adoption-related topics. "The Journey of Attachment," "Tough Starts: Parenting Matters," and "Foster Family to Forever Family" are just a few of ALP's other course titles. Each year ALP logs over 30,000 course and webinar enrollments. The vision of Adoption Learning Partners is to make a positive, measurable impact on adoption outcomes by offering meaningful, timely, web-based educational adoption resources for professionals, parents, adopted individuals, and the families that love them.

Population(s) Served

The Cradle conducts homes studies and provides comprehensive pre-adoptive training and education for parents preparing to adopt a child. Following a placement, our counselors provide six months of post-placement supervision.

Population(s) Served

The Center for Lifelong Adoption Support at The Cradle is a valuable resource for any individual touched by adoption. Our mission is to provide a continuum of support to birth and adoptive parents, adopted persons and families as they live, learn and grow. CLAS offers an array of post adoption support services, including: informational consultations; background, search and connection facilitation; counseling sessions with adoption-competent therapists; Theraplay® for young children and their families; and parenting workshops.

Population(s) Served

The Our Children initiative was launched in early 2016 to educate diverse families about the realities and injustices their children may experience, and equip parents with helpful tools and resources. Since then we have held a series of roundtable events on topics including "Raising Black Boys," "The Color of Education," "Raising Black Girls," and "Raising Black Children Across Racial Lines." Upcoming roundtables in 2018 will address LGBTQ parenting and international adoption. Each roundtable also has a companion webinar hosted by The Cradle's Adoption Learning Partners site.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Licensed for Child Welfare and Child Care Institution 2009

Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)

Childcare Institution License (Cradle Nursery) 2013

Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)

Child Welfare License Renewal Certification 2014

Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)

Child Welfare License 2018

Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS)

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

The number of expectant parents The Cradle provided services to during the fiscal year.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Expectant Parent Services

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of continuing education and continuing education units awarded in the fiscal year.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served


Related Program

The Cradle

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Cradle aims to support, educate, and provide awareness to those that are touched by adoption in addition to providing quality care in a nurturing environment for those who need the services of our Nursery.

The Cradle’s strategies for accomplishing the aforementioned are multi-fold and includes a multi-disciplinary professional staff to execute the following:
• Support
o Options counseling for those facing unplanned pregnancies
o Clinical counseling and post-adoption support for those touched by adoption
o Sayers Center for African American Adoption program
o Home study preparation and review for individuals/couples/families wishing to adopt a child domestically and/or internationally
o Nurturing around the clock care by nurses and nurse aides for children under six months of age whose parents are considering their options, including adoption
o Coordination of medical care for children entrusted to the care of the nursery including routine wellness checkups and additional medical care as prescribed by physician(s)

• Educate
o In-person education for individuals/couples/families preparing for adoption
o Online education through the agency’s proprietary online platform that is delivered to clients The Cradle is working with as well as with agencies that contract these services
o Post-adoption education that addresses complex societal issues faced by families brought together through adoption (e.g., Our Children Initiative)

• Awareness
o Continuing education courses for social worker and medical community
o Partnerships with community organizations that often encounter families and/or individuals touched by adoption
o Collaborating with agencies providing wraparound supports for birth parent populations such as WIC
o Planning and execution of engaging fundraising events that highlight the impact of the work that is done by The Cradle
o Planning and execution of community connection events that provide lifelong support to members of the Cradle community that have
been brought together by adoption
o Delivery of marketing channels to reach and meet adoption circle audiences

The Cradle is a nonprofit agency that has been at the forefront of adoption for almost 100 years. The organization is well positioned to support the needs of individuals, families, other agencies, and the community at-large today and into the future as it has done since opening its doors in 1923 with adoption-competent staff members who help lead all programs and initiatives.

Over the past two-years, The Cradle has developed and implemented a strategic plan that provides for a more sustainable future through building and deepening relationships, strengthening internal systems, and refreshing the agency brand. During this time-frame, The Cradle has accomplished the following:
• Pay down of more than $1M in long-term debt
• Attainment of Hague Accreditation for the delivery of services for international home studies by parents preparing to adopt children internationally
• 100% pass rate on state inspection of childcare/nursery services
• Placement of over 100 children as part of domestic placement program
• Placement of seven children as part of international home study program
• Provided nurturing nursery services for a total of 2,895 nursery days
• Answered the inquiries from more than 1,100 individuals/couples who were facing an unplanned pregnancy and were considering their options
• Development of a business plan and execution of an online education platform
• Implementation of robust education topics and programs including the Our Children Initiative – a program that addresses complex societal topics in a roundtable format, topics have included “Raising Black Boys,” “The Color of Education,” and more
• Reorganization of agency’s services to ensure streamlined and effective communication with intended audiences
• Re-engagement of relationships with lapsed donors
• Awarded over 1,000 Continuing Education Unit certifications in adoption-competent subject matters to the social worker and medical professional community

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?


Cradle Society

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Cradle Society

Board of directors
as of 08/29/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

John Luce


Term: 2023 - 2021

Margarita E Kellen

Retired, Walgreen Co.

Lawrence H Rubly

American Tech & Management University

Penelope Boardman

Aristotle Foundation

Kimberly Simonton

Board Vice Chair

Jane M Cummins

Jeanne E. Enright


Jerry H. Biederman

Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP; Board Chair

Jason D. Asper

James G. Connelly

Water Street Healthcare Partners, LLC

Heather A. Kelley


Jeffrey Brown

Board Treasurer

Ryan Whitacre

Bridge Partners

George S. Wilkins

Stephen M. Whisdosh

Sarah Van Steenburg

Board Secretary

Julia Paster

Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management

Corry M. Connelly

J'ai Brown

Joel Solomon

Rothschild Investment Co.; Chair & Treasurer, The Cradle Foundation

Phyllis S. Thomas

Secretary, The Cradle Foundation

Therese Fauerbach

Jessica Garascia

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 8/29/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data


No data