Chicago Commons

Thriving across generations.

aka Commons   |   Chicago, IL   |
GuideStar Charity Check

Chicago Commons

EIN: 36-2169136


Chicago Commons’ mission is to empower individuals, families, and communities to overcome poverty and systemic barriers, embrace opportunities, and thrive across generations. To fulfill that mission, we provide high quality early childhood education, family-centered adult education, and senior services to more than 3,500 individuals annually. We envision a future where all children, families, and seniors have equitable opportunities for success, generation after generation.

Ruling year info


President & Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Edgar Ramirez

Main address

515 E. 50th Street

Chicago, IL 60615 USA

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Subject area info

Human services

Population served info

Children and youth


People with disabilities

NTEE code info

Neighborhood Center, Settlement House (P28)

Neighborhood Center, Settlement House (P28)

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Chicago Commons recognizes that every generation faces unique challenges. Empowering communities requires recognizing and responding to these generational struggles. Research shows that high-quality birth-to-five education leads to greater earnings, higher educational attainment, and better health later in life. Chicago Commons helps ensure our children have access to high-quality educational opportunities regardless of family income. For families with young children, research indicates that integrating services serves a child’s long-term wellbeing better than serving parents or children in isolation. Through our Family Hub, parents of children enrolled at our early childhood centers access meaningful supports that are responsive to their goals and needs. Finally, the number of people in metro Chicago between age 65 and 84 will double by 2040. Our services for seniors provide vital services for families with an aging loved one by relieving some of the heavy burden of caregiving.

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?

Early Childhood Education

As the second largest provider of Head Start and Early Head Start in Chicago, Chicago Commons strives to ensure that its children start kindergarten ready to succeed by providing best-in-class early education programming for children from six weeks to five years old. Our programs include four directly operated early education family centers, six Community Partner Programs, and four subrecipient agencies with a total of 25 sites. Commons’ directly operated centers utilize the Reggio Emilia approach, a pedagogy in which children are empowered to author their own learning processes through self-directed, experiential learning.

Our centers are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, recognizing our high-quality learning environments, program administration, and teacher qualifications. Chicago Commons’ children consistently perform above city and national averages in the areas of math, literacy, social-emotional learning, and cognitive abilities.

Population(s) Served
Infants and toddlers
Children and youth

Family Hub, our family-centered adult education program, positions our early education centers to meet the needs of the whole family. Family Hub provides workshops and one-on-one couching to parents on a variety of subjects including financial management, physical and mental health and well-being, employment and job-readiness skills, digital literacy, and advocating for themselves and their communities. Family Hub’s holistic, multigenerational approach improves economic mobility and family well-being by empowering participants with the tools to realize their ambitions.

Family Hub’s Pathways for Parents program provides the stepping stones for a career in early childhood education. This cohort-based program offers fully subsidized college courses located at one of our early education centers, guidance to become qualified as a teacher’s assistant, and help with transportation, meals, and childcare.

Population(s) Served

Chicago Commons’ Senior Services help seniors and adults with disabilities maintain their independence and quality of life. Commons offers both Adult Day Services (ADS) and Home Care to individuals across Chicagoland.

ADS is a professional care setting in which clients are transported to our center to receive individualized care in a community-based environment. Services include transportation in wheelchair accessible vehicles, nutritious meals, personal care, physical exercise, social activities, and health monitoring. The ADS center has the capacity to serve 80 seniors and disabled adults and operates with a fully trained staff and registered nurse on duty.

Home Care provides services to almost 1,300 individuals throughout the Chicago metropolitan area, empowering seniors and adults with disabilities to stay in their homes. A caregiver visits daily or weekly to assist with activities including light housekeeping, personal care, medication reminders, and meal preparation.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities

Where we work


Strengthening Families Award 2008

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Humboldt Park Community Heroes 2009


Citi Foundation Community Progress Maker 2018


Project Innovation Grant Challenge Winner 2022

Comcast NBCUniversal

Affiliations & memberships

United Neighborhood Centers of America 1900

Next Steps for Rigorous Research on Two-Generation Approaches 2021

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 children served

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

Low-income people, Working poor, Children, Infants and toddlers

Related Program

Early Childhood Education

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Number of families served

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

Adults, Economically disadvantaged people, Families, Parents, Caregivers

Related Program

Family Hub

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Number of seniors and adults with disabilities served

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

Older adults, Seniors, Economically disadvantaged people, People with disabilities

Related Program

Senior Services

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


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.

Chicago Commons’ three core activity areas – early childhood education, family-centered adult services, and senior services – create opportunities and move families toward educational success, economic security, and health and well-being.

For 128 years, Chicago Commons has maintained the values of the historic settlement house movement by continually engaging in dialogue with community residents. We base our strategic direction on listening to the people we serve, understanding how the neighborhoods around us are changing, and seeking innovative ways to respond.

Today, Chicago Commons’ multigenerational approach supports low-income families in achieving their goals. For seniors and adults with disabilities, our services help people maintain their independence and quality of life. For families with young children, we provide a supportive environment, resources, and holistic approach to enable success.

Chicago Commons provides services for children, families, and seniors, including:

• Comprehensive early education for ages birth to age five at four directly operated early education family centers, as well as an after school and summer Youth Program for ages 5-12 at our Pilsen location.
• Program oversight to four subgrantee early education agencies and six Community Partners Program sites.
• Family Hub wraparound services to engage the whole family, delivering financial, employment, and health workshops and coaching.
• Adult Day Services and Home Care services throughout the Chicago Metropolitan Area, helping seniors and adults with disabilities maintain their quality of life.

Chicago Commons is a leading provider of high-quality services to children, families, and seniors in Chicago and beyond.

Chicago Commons is a recognized leader in early childhood education.
• Commons’ early education centers were among the first Head Start-funded programs in the nation to systematically implement the principles of the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy, earning us national attention. Through Reggio Emilia, children engage in student-driven investigations, hands-on activities, and questioning that develops higher-order thinking. Private preschools in Chicago using Reggio Emilia have tuitions approaching $25,000. By bringing this high-quality learning approach to low-income families, Chicago Commons is helping to dismantle educational inequity.
• Chicago Commons’ early childhood education programs have been recognized by ExceleRate Illinois as GOLD Circle of Quality programs for meeting the highest quality standards in learning environment and teaching quality, administrative standards, and teacher training. Our centers are also accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children for meeting high standards.

Chicago Commons’ Family Hub is an innovative model that provides over 550 parents with a full range of wraparound support to meet the needs of the whole family. In 2022:
• Family Hub’s Pathways for Parents program received Comcast NBCUniversal’s Project Innovation award.
• 70% of those participating in employment coaching completed a milestone and increased job-readiness.
• 77% of participants in our Pathways for Parents program complete their first two semesters of college coursework.
• 80% of participants in Wellness Wednesdays workshops reported that they used health strategies that they learned in the workshops, such as self-care and stress management skills.

Our senior care programs rank highly in terms of client satisfaction, and we are proud to bring the highest quality home care and adult day service to low-income clients across the city.
• Our programs support 1,100 seniors and adults with disabilities in 2022, providing them with a life of independence, dignity, and respect.
• Commons’ Adult Day Service (ADS) center has operated in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood since 2012. Participants at our center receive individualized therapy, socialize with others, and eat a nutritious meal. ADS also provides a Caregiver Support group for family members.
• Home Care Aides are available 24 hours a day to help homebound seniors with daily activities, provide personal care, or simply offer a friendly ear.

Chicago Commons began in 1894 as a settlement home for immigrants on the near Northwest side looking to build a life for their families. Over the years, Chicago Commons has evolved alongside the communities we serve as their needs have changed. Today, Chicago Commons is a cornerstone in some of the city’s most under-resourced neighborhoods, providing innovative Early Childhood Education, Family Hub services, and Senior Services. Our directly operated centers serve families with a median household annual income of $15,050, mainly in Humboldt Park, Pilsen, Bronzeville, and Back of the Yards. In collaboration with our subgrantee centers, Commons’ programs reach nearly 1,750 children , 556 parents, and 1,100 seniors.

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 1.80 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 1.1 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 18% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Chicago Commons

Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Chicago Commons

Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Chicago Commons

Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of Chicago Commons’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $139,808 $292,968 $1,021,370 $568,689 $453,076
As % of expenses 0.5% 1.1% 3.6% 1.7% 1.0%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation -$250,934 -$70,227 $690,724 $212,727 $87,221
As % of expenses -0.9% -0.3% 2.4% 0.6% 0.2%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $27,621,577 $27,236,700 $29,739,272 $34,368,248 $44,596,385
Total revenue, % change over prior year 4.1% -1.4% 9.2% 15.6% 29.8%
Program services revenue 94.3% 97.0% 95.7% 95.6% 96.5%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.4% 0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.7% 0.0%
All other grants and contributions 5.1% 2.8% 4.2% 3.6% 3.3%
Other revenue 0.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $27,156,861 $27,240,349 $28,723,262 $33,733,739 $43,679,669
Total expenses, % change over prior year 1.5% 0.3% 5.4% 17.4% 29.5%
Personnel 68.7% 67.9% 67.0% 68.1% 54.1%
Professional fees 12.0% 17.8% 17.2% 17.3% 10.5%
Occupancy 9.0% 7.0% 6.7% 5.5% 3.9%
Interest 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.3%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 22.4%
All other expenses 9.8% 6.8% 8.6% 8.6% 8.8%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $27,547,603 $27,603,544 $29,053,908 $34,089,701 $44,045,524
One month of savings $2,263,072 $2,270,029 $2,393,605 $2,811,145 $3,639,972
Debt principal payment $73,614 $76,076 $0 $44,143 $46,866
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $612,522 $0 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $29,884,289 $29,949,649 $32,060,035 $36,944,989 $47,732,362

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 0.5 1.2 2.0 1.3 1.4
Months of cash and investments 0.5 1.2 2.0 1.3 1.4
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 2.9 2.9 3.0 2.6 2.1
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Cash $1,033,916 $2,715,615 $4,734,043 $3,599,640 $5,183,344
Investments $84,531 $91,169 $99,338 $98,919 $88,631
Receivables $8,273,959 $6,283,352 $5,158,359 $6,390,370 $8,062,824
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $6,763,459 $6,889,044 $7,501,566 $7,774,212 $7,666,623
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 40.4% 44.9% 45.7% 48.6% 52.4%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 29.7% 29.6% 30.7% 27.9% 36.4%
Unrestricted net assets $7,577,652 $7,507,425 $8,198,149 $8,410,876 $8,498,097
Temporarily restricted net assets $802,648 $511,117 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $3,558,471 $3,579,992 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $4,361,119 $4,091,109 $4,041,333 $5,121,181 $4,688,582
Total net assets $11,938,771 $11,598,534 $12,239,482 $13,532,057 $13,186,679

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Material data errors No No No No No


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

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

President & Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Edgar Ramirez

Edgar Ramirez joined Chicago Commons in 2010 as Associate Executive Director. As a community organizer, he worked on issues such as leadership development, green space improvement, and anti-violence campaigns. Edgar was instrumental in organizing issues such as childcare income eligibility, comprehensive immigration reform, and youth job development. He earned a master’s degree from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago in Policy Analysis and Community Organizing and a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University. Currently, Edgar serves on Toni Preckwinkle’s Latino Advisory Committee, the Board of Directors at the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, the Illinois Association of Community Care Homecare Providers, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He is a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow (2016), a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, and has been given the role of Employer Trustee with the SEIU Healthcare IL Home Care & Child Care Fund.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990

Chicago Commons

Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
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Chicago Commons

Highest paid employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of highest paid employee data for this organization

Chicago Commons

Board of directors
as of 05/22/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Mr. Steven Sparks

Mary E. Timmons

Northern Trust

James Hill, III


Holly M. Baumgart

Sargento Foods Inc.

Ann Beran Jones

Retired Educatior

Robert E. Smietana

HSA Commercial Real Estate

Caroline Harney

University of Chicago Service League

Torrence L. Hinton

Peoples Gas and Northshore Gas

Ronald G. Kaminski

HBK Engineering, LLC

Philip B. Kenny

Construction Practice, Marsh USA Inc.

David R. Perez


Daniel Chavez

PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP

Brian Marquez

Tampico Beverages, Inc.

Amit Mehta

Paul Hastings LLP

Ofelia M. Potter

Northern Trust

John Yeager

Whitehorse Capital

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 12/21/2022

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
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data


No data


Fiscal year ending
There are no fundraisers recorded for this organization.