Social change summer?
January 4, 2012 5:29 PM   Subscribe

What are some awesome non-profits/other social change organizations based in Chicago or the surrounding areas (northern suburbs would actually be ideal)?

I'm asking this question as part of a summer internship search. I haven't had much luck with internship search engines, so I was hoping to take a different sort of approach and directly contact organizations that I'd like to work with (if you have any advice on this I'd love to hear about it too).

I'd be really interested to work with organizations that deal with at-risk youth, queer/LGBTQ rights, feminist issues, climate justice, education, human rights or community building, though if you know of an awesome organization that doesn't revolve around one of those causes or whatever I'd still love to hear about it it!

If you have any other general advice about getting an internship that revolves around social change I'd also love to hear it! Thank-you so much for your time! If you have any questions about my specific circumstances I'll definitely be around to answer them, but just in case its relevant I'm a first year at Brown University.
posted by kylej to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe Howard Brown would be interesting to you?
posted by geegollygosh at 6:00 PM on January 4, 2012

I mostly worked with refugees and immigrants as a volunteer, intern and paid employee, but was connected with and knew of lots of other agencies. Here are a few offhand:

LGBQT: Howard Brown Center and Heartland Alliance
Human Rights: Heartland Alliance, World Relief Council, Refugee One, Pan-African Association
At-Risk Youth: Neon Girls, Howard Area Community Center, Heartland Alliance

All places doing wonderful work, always in need of good volunteers and interns. Me-mail me if you'd like more specific info!
posted by swingbraid at 6:03 PM on January 4, 2012

You can find a wide variety of nonprofit internship opportunities in Chicago on
posted by juniperesque at 6:22 PM on January 4, 2012

Gender Just does intense and amazing work. I don't know if they are set up to take interns, but they are awesome people and worth getting involved with anyway.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:53 PM on January 4, 2012

Teach For America is working in Chicago to ensure that one day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

Their contact information is here:

Specifically, ask them about getting involved with the Chicago Summer Institute (the corps member on ramp program) which DOES take summer interns on to do meaningful work.
posted by jander03 at 8:01 PM on January 4, 2012

*I should add that if you choose the TFA route, you should be the type of person who creates a weekly action plan.
posted by jander03 at 8:02 PM on January 4, 2012

You might take a look through this list of the (Chicago-based) Crossroads Fund's current and past grantees--the criteria they use to select worthy causes sound like they're in fairly close alignment to yours.
posted by pullayup at 8:45 PM on January 4, 2012

Idealist is another good place to peruse listings.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:35 PM on January 4, 2012

Oh, and I forgot to suggest the Jane Addams Resource Corporation for community development.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:45 PM on January 4, 2012

Emmaus Ministries works on the streets of Chicago, reaching out to men in prostitution.
posted by garlic at 7:46 AM on January 5, 2012

Off the Street Club is a great organization that helps kids of all ages. They also have a summer camp that's always looking for volunteers.
posted by eamondaly at 1:31 PM on January 5, 2012

Check out the Night Ministry. It has a great program, the Youth Outreach Team, which works with LGBT homeless youth. Don't be thrown by the name (like I was). It has some religious sponsorship and mild affiliation but no proselytizing. Disclaimer: I volunteer there and am a secular type. I would argue it does the most for homeless LGBT youth in the city. It is certainly featured in the Chicago media whenever the issue of LGBT homelessness comes up. Feel free to PM me if you want to ask about my experience there. Good luck with your search!
posted by dovesandstones at 11:15 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thank-you so much for your help, everyone!
posted by kylej at 10:54 PM on January 10, 2012

Late to the party here, but I work for an arts education nonprofit in Chicago. I'm not sure what our intern-acquiring process is like, but if you're still looking and you want to send me a message with your resume, I can at least check and see if there's interest.

I don't believe they're paid, which would have been a concern for me but may not be for you. I'm not certain about this, however.
posted by aintthattheway at 9:07 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

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