Inspiration Corporation

aka Inspiration Cafe, Inspiration Kitchens   |   Chicago, IL   |  http://www.inspirationcorp.org

Mission

In an atmosphere of dignity and respect, Inspiration Corporation connects people and creates opportunity through access to social services, job training, housing, and food.

Ruling year info

1994

Executive Director & CEO

Ms. Shannon K. Stewart

Main address

4554 N Broadway Suite 207

Chicago, IL 60640 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Inspiration Cafe

Inspiration Kitchens

EIN

36-3673980

NTEE code info

Homeless Services/Centers (P85)

Employment Training (J22)

Other Housing, Shelter N.E.C. (L99)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Inspiration Corporation was founded in 1989 by Lisa Nigro, a Chicago Police Officer. Lisa was frustrated by the inhumane treatment people in need experience every day. She quit her job to work directly with the community on the issues of poverty and homelessness. Lisa filled a little red wagon with coffee and sandwiches and walked around the Uptown neighborhood connecting with people. The wagon grew into a van, bus, and eventually a full-service cafe for people experiencing homelessness. Each year, Inspiration Corporation works with hundreds of resilient Chicagoans facing a wide variety of barriers imposed by systems of oppression, such as homelessness, hunger, and social isolation. In order to help individuals and families overcome these barriers, we provide housing, meals, job training, scholarships, and outreach services. Inspiration Corporation meets people where they are in life, helping them access the supports they need and achieve their personal goals.

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?

Inspiration Kitchens

FOODSERVICE TRAINING PROGRAM
At Inspiration Kitchens, our social enterprise restaurant and training facility in East Garfield Park, we provide training in the culinary arts, one of few industries open to people with multiple barriers. Participants in the program receive support beyond skills training, helping them overcome challenges and pursue their goals. We also help graduates of the program find and retain jobs in the industry.

The free program equips participants with the basic skills needed to enter the culinary industry, including professionally recognized certification, kitchen safety practices, and basic culinary techniques, a

MEALS
Inspiration Kitchens now produces and distributes free, nutritious meals to those in need across Chicago. Meals produced at Inspiration Kitchens are provided at no cost through a collection of partner organizations to those experiencing homelessness and poverty. We are actively fundraising to continue offering this support during the pandemic.

Population(s) Served
Unemployed people
Incarcerated people
Homeless people

Inspiration Corporation provides individuals and families experiencing homelessness with access to housing and ongoing rental support. We also provide supportive services, working with participants to help them remain stably housed and pursue their personal goals.

We administer nine publicly funded initiatives, as well our own project based housing unit. In total, we provide rent subsidies and supportive services for 180 households throughout Chicago. In fiscal year 2020, we expect to serve over 360 individuals.

Population(s) Served
Homeless people
People with disabilities

MEALS
For decades, Inspiration Cafe served restaurant-style meals to individuals in Uptown. We have modified and expanded meals production to meet rising need resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, meals packaged to-go are distributed from the cafe to any community member in need. We have also returned to providing seated breakfast service twice a week, with plans to return to additional in-person meals as we are able to expand capacity

HOMELESS ENGAGEMENT SERVICES
Our Homeless Engagement Services Program is also housed in Inspiration Cafe, and works with people experiencing homelessness in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.

In order to ensure that people accessing meals at the Cafe have access to additional supports, we offer case management appointments through our Daytime Support Services Initiative. Individuals in need of deeper levels of support can be formally enrolled in the Homeless Engagement Services Program, receiving clinical case management.

Population(s) Served
Homeless people
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Catalyst Kitchens Model Member 2019

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

Number of participants who gain employment

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

Economically disadvantaged people, Incarcerated people, Unemployed people

Related Program

Inspiration Kitchens

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Inspiration Corporation's fiscal year ends on June 30. Numbers reflect the year in which a fiscal year ended.

Number of clients who complete job skills training

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

Inspiration Kitchens

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Inspiration Corporation's fiscal year ends on June 30. Numbers reflect the year in which a fiscal year ended.

Number of program participants who remain employed 12 months after program completion

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

Inspiration Kitchens

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Inspiration Corporation's fiscal year ends on June 30. Numbers reflect the year in which a fiscal year ended.

Average hourly wage of clients who became employed after job skills training

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

Inspiration Kitchens

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Inspiration Corporation's fiscal year ends on June 30. Numbers reflect the year in which a fiscal year ended.

Number of homeless participants engaged in housing services

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

Housing Services

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Inspiration Corporation's fiscal year ends on June 30. More than 40% of individuals in our Housing Program are children.

Number of households that obtain/retain permanent housing for at least 6 months

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

Housing Services

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Inspiration Corporation's fiscal year ends on June 30. Numbers reflect the year in which a fiscal year ended. Many household include more than one formerly homeless individual.

Number of meals served or provided

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

Inspiration Cafe

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Inspiration Corporation's fiscal year ends on June 30. We have drastically increased meals production at Inspiration Cafe and Kitchens to meet the need of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

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.

Inspiration Corporation practices a harm reduction approach and provides services to people who are not housed or who have physical, emotional, or experiential barriers to employment. Because of this, those who do not succeed in other programs are often referred to Inspiration Corporation. This willingness to help the highest-need Chicagoans to improve their lives distinguishes us from many other organizations in our peer group. Our client-centered and trauma-informed practices provide flexibility to address the complex challenges and support the unique strengths of each participant.

Participants work with a case manager to create an individualized work plan. Plans outline personal goals and plans for meeting basic needs. They guide participants in overcoming barriers such as chronic physical health issues, mental illness, previous interactions with the legal system, and poverty. We also provide thousands of free meals each year to those in need to help meet people’s basic needs.

At Inspiration Kitchens, we provide training in the culinary arts, one of few industries open to people with multiple barriers. Participants in the program receive support beyond skills training, helping them overcome challenges and pursue their goals. We also help graduates of the program find and retain jobs in the industry.

Inspiration Corporation provides individuals and families experiencing homelessness with access to housing and ongoing rental support. We also provide supportive services, working with participants to help them remain stably housed and pursue their personal goals.

Through the Meals Program, Inspiration Corporation produces and distributes free, nutritious meals to those in need across Chicago. Meals produced at Inspiration Cafe in Uptown are distributed each day to any community member in need. Meals produced at Inspiration Kitchens in East Garfield Park are delivered to a collection of partner agencies serving those experiencing homelessness and poverty primarily on the West Side of Chicago.

The Lori Jericho Memorial Education Fund provides low-income individuals who cannot obtain traditional financing for education with career counseling and scholarships for higher education and vocational training programs, helping participants earn qualifications and increase income.

The Homeless Engagement Services Program works with people experiencing homelessness in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. We connect participants in the program with housing, and help them meet their basic needs while working towards their personal goals.

The Inspiration Cafe model has been replicated around the country, and the organization has been recognized as a leader in the field of human services for its innovative and effective programs. Inspiration Corporation was featured in Chicago Magazine’s Guide to Charitable Giving as one of 15 gold-standard charities, both in 2012 and in 2015. The agency’s Foodservice Training program was featured in Food & Wine magazine in September 2017.

In 2019, Inspiration Corporation was awarded Betty J. Willhoite award at the Chicago Jobs Council’s 38th Annual Meeting Celebration. The Betty J. Willhoite award is given each year to an individual or organization that has gone above and beyond to promote employment and career advancement opportunities that move people out of poverty. Inspiration Corporation was presented with the award this year in recognition of both its pioneering research on the city’s housing waitlist during the summer of 2018 and its longstanding dedication to linking the homeless response and workforce development systems.

In 2019, Inspiration Corporation received the Organizational Leadership Award from the American Psychological Associations Committee on Socioeconomic Status, which recognizes organizations who contribute in the well-being of the socioeconomically disadvantaged, therefore making tremendous strides in reducing socioeconomic related disparities in and around their communities.

The agency has a 30-year track record of providing life-changing services to the highest-barrier population in the City of Chicago.

Since 1989 when the organization was founded by one woman with a red wagon, the organizationhas dramatically expanded to provide services across the City of Chicago. Inspiration Corporation now provides culinary training and job placement services to over 60 people each year, provides supportive housing to more than 340 individuals including children and families, and serves thousands of meals to those in need. Over time we've expanded programming to broaden our reach and the depth of our impact on individuals impacted by homelessness and poverty.

In the future, the organization is pushing for continued growth in our supportive housing programs, identifying ways to provide greater support to people experiencing homelessness who dine at Inspiration Cafe, and providing meals to those in need throughout Chicago at Inspiration Kitchens.

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 demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Inspiration Corporation practices a harm reduction approach and provides services to people who are not housed or who have physical, emotional, or experiential barriers to employment. At the time of enrollment, many program participants are experiencing homelessness, and the vast majority live under the federal poverty line. All participants we work with share a determination to improve their situation, with qualities of resiliency, resourcefulness and a depth of life experience. Our client-centered and trauma-informed practices provide flexibility to address the complex challenges and support the unique strengths of each participant.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • 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 make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Surveying in our Food Service Training Program occurs at three points throughout training. In addition to these specified surveying times, participants have the ability to provide feedback on any aspect of the program as often as they find necessary. Paper copies of our survey are available to participants at all times. This feedback is taken seriously, with adjustments to programming already taking place between our first and second cohorts of our most recently completed fiscal year to help make training more accessible and impactful. Thanks to participant feedback, we were able to increase training time in the kitchen and begin paid training earlier in the program.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

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

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,

Financials

Inspiration Corporation
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Operations

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

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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

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

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

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.

Inspiration Corporation

Board of directors
as of 07/14/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Elisabeth Payne

Sales Director, Verizon Media

Term: 2018 -

Lisa Hampton

Director of Prevention and Intervention, Youth Division Chicago Department of Family & Support Services

John Shapiro

Partner, Freeborn & Peters LLP (non-voting)

Shannon Stewart

Executive Director & CEO, Inspiration Corporation (non-voting)

Lisa Jericho

Senior Vice President of Information, Feeding America

Elisabeth Payne

Sales Director, Verizon Media (Chair)

April Williams

Supervisor, NORC at the University of Chicago

Ann O'Shaughnessy

Managing Director, CIBC

Vinu Ramasamy

Head of Software Research & Development Siemens Building Technologies

Kristen Nomura

Head of Industry - Restaurants, Google

Natalie Lynch

Manager, Talent Acquisition, LinkedIn

John Potter

Partner, Morgante Wilson Architects, LTD.

Bill Pekin

Senior Vice President & Portfolio Manager Pekin Hardy Strauss Wealth Management (Treasurer)

Emily Blum

Executive Director ADA25 Advancing Leadership

Travis Hughes

Managing Director, JP Morgan Asset Management

John Bankhurst

Business Development Director Salo LLC

Kaitlin Roe

Associate Director, The Kraft Heinz Company

Blake Overlock

Principal, Loud Capital

Brandon Barela

Senior Manager, Trade & Customs, KPMG LLP

Ben Yepsen

Senior Director, Supply Chain and Facility Operations Comcast

Thomas Dixon

Lead Experienced Recruiting Specialist Deloitte Consulting, LLP

La'Shawn Hill

Sr. Advisor, Strategic Initiatives BMO Harris Bank

Catherine Faber

Chief Financial Officer, Everactive

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 7/11/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Non-binary
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/11/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.