A Legacy of Caring


Close to the turn of the century, before medical science had produced any vaccines or treatments for such dreaded diseases as polio and infantile paralysis, children afflicted were labelled "crippled" and destined to a limited life at best and, if poor, a still greater suffering due in part to the inadequate health care systems of the time.

It was during this period in the late 1880’s that a group of concerned volunteers gathered together at the request of the late Emma Stelle to form an organization to care for these deprived crippled children. With tireless dedication they succeeded in founding the Home for Destitute Crippled Children and by 1892 were officially chartered to operate as a pediatric care facility on Chicago’s south side offering impoverished children the benefits of free medical care from some of the best known physicians in the area.

The success of these efforts soon outpaced the capabilities of the original Home and before long new facilities were needed. That was eventually accomplished so that by 1906, a new building was completed that had over one hundred beds and at the same time the McElwee Clinic Memorial Building was constructed nearby for children who could not be admitted to the Home but for whom treatment was available on an outpatient basis. Also, during this period, the first school for crippled children was opened and, by 1911, what had started as a modest effort of a few friends became a major operation affiliated with Rush Medical College and indirectly with the University of Chicago. Through these two institutions, children were given the additional advantages of pioneering research and highly trained specialists as part of the activities of the Home.

By 1928, the success of the Home led to an affiliation agreement with the University of Chicago whereby the Home leased two wings of a building under construction and in turn the University furnished the medical and nursing staffs along with providing administrative services. This was made possible by the generosity of two benefactors. The first contribution by Elizabeth Spalding McElwee build the campus building adjacent to the surgical clinic in memory of her daughter, Nancy Adele McElwee. The facilities were further enhanced with the addition of the Gertrude Dunn Hicks Memorial Wing, that when completed in 1931, made a combined six-story structure at 59th and Ellis Avenue with a capacity of over one hundred beds.

In the years that followed, significant advances in the science of pediatrics and ever greater developments in the care and treatment of crippled children substantially reduced the demand for specialized operations. As certain diseases were conquered or made treatable the need for ailment specific facilities was becoming obsolete since modern medicine of the time was deemed as requiring more flexibility in its institutions. In response, the Home and the University agreed in 1960 to consolidate so that they could jointly plan the construction of a still greater hospital for children. The new Home, completed in 1967, was named after famed Chicago businessman Silvain S. Wyler and his wife Arma. After his death, widow Arma Wyler continued the generous support that helped make the Home a recognized world class institution in the field of pediatric care. Her commitment to impoverished children’s health care made for an oasis in the blighted urban setting surrounding this hospital that continues the Emma Stelle legacy of caring. During the decade of the eighties, the role of the Home as a medical provider for needy children in the intercity was diminished by the University’s emphasis on “high-tech” research that was costly and limiting the number of patients served. Their mission was taxing the available resources of the Home in its operation of Whyler Children’s Hospital thereby restricting the availability of more broadly needed community based pediatric services. Concomitant to this was a change in the corporate structure of the University of Chicago that separated the hospitals and clinics into independent entities that, along with a new administration, further subrogated the role of the Home for Destitute Crippled Children away from its mission of serving indigent children. These inherent conflicts of operational objectives were eventually resolved by an agreement in 1989 to terminate the relationship so that the University and the Home could each continue with their long established goals. In keeping with the tradition of the Home, the Children’s Care Foundation was formed to carry forward the pledge made to needy children by the founders a century earlier and dedicated to the charitable legacy started by Emma Stelle in 1889.

Charitable Policy

The mission, and legacy, of the Home for Destitute Crippled Chldren has been one of caring for children. While the delivery of health care and pediatric medicine has advanced substantially since the original founding of the Home in 1889, the needs of poor, sick and abused children, which the charity was intended to help, have unfortunately increased even more. In the urban environment where the Home first served the needy, the problems of heath care, child neglect, child abuse, AIDS, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, welfare dependency and child-related crimes, to name just a few, have grown beyond the ability of existing institutions and resources. The Board of Directors of the Children’s Care Foundation is committed to finding ways to extend the inherited tradition of caring by seeking responsible solutions through charitable organizations and programs dedicated to solving the problems presented to children of today and tomorrow.


Therefore, it is the mission of the Children’s Care Foundation to utilize its financial resources in a manner that best expresses its legacy of helping needy children. As such, the Foundation will create the means for funding specific organizations and charitable programs that have responsible and accountable objectives aimed at solving contemporary problems of poor and deprived children. As a supplemental funding sources, the Foundation will help by directly providing grants of money to those charities, as designated by the Board of Directors guidelines, whose specific proposals address these problems as realistic, reasonable and consistent with the Foundation’s goal of helping poor and indigent children.

Grant Requests

Children’s Care Foundation grants are restricted by law to 501(c)(3) organizations and therefore we cannot consider funding requests for individuals or other organizations regardless of worthiness

It is the mission of the Foundation to support organizational programs and innovative approaches that best represent possible solutions to the problems of children. While the needs of poor and indigent children are too numerous to categorize, proposals for grants should nonetheless be specific as to their intent, and how the Foundation will best be able to monitor how well the funds have been used by the recipients. Too, while the Foundation does not have a formal application form, the following information is requested before a grand can be considered:

  • An executive summary of your specific proposal.
  • The specific problem to be addressed, your plan for its solution and constituency it will server.
  • Why your organization should undertake such a proposed project and your solution strategy along with an explanation of how this would fit with existing programs.
  • Results to be achieved and how they will be measured and monitored in relation to your grant request.
  • Why you believe your proposal is worthy of a grand and anything else you consider material to you request.
  • A brief description of your organization, its staff and present programs. Past major accomplishments. A list of your officers and directors.
  • A full listing of corporate and foundation donors with their level of support.
  • Promotional brochures, catalogues or printed releases relative to your organization and its program.
  • Detailed financial information that includes:
    1. The specific amount of money being requested and a projected budget on how grant money will be utilized.
    2. Copies (audited, if available) of your organization’s financial reports for the past three years.
    3. Your per annum cost for administration and fundraising.
    4. A copy of your most recent IRS Form 990 and a copy of your IRS non-profit status determination (dated after 1969).

Grant Expectations

First, and perhaps foremost, the Foundation expects grant recipients will achieve their stated purpose thereby helping to continue the mission for which we were founded. It is further hoped that grants will provide for a continuing and beneficial relationship for all parties involved. In that regard, the Foundation will assist in communicating its role with sponsored organizations by providing public

relations and media guidelines that best express the specific grant program, project intentions and acknowledgement of the Foundation’s funding. In this manner grant recipients will best understand the kind of recognition and consideration we expect in return for sponsorship. In so doing, we would hope that our intentions were appropriately represented and, that the recipient organization would receive the type of attention that would further help raise additional grant monies and community participation.

The desire for an ongoing relationship that is mutually beneficial is couched in the belief that results are best measured over time and that the Foundation’s mission will best be expressed by sponsored program successes. Too, the Foundation’s need to monitor this process and its funding require solid and open lines of communication. This participatory approach will likewise provide opportunities for consultive exchanges that keep everybody informed and in step with our mission objectives.

Lastly, while consideration and recognition of our grant giving is important, any acknowledgement should convey an understanding of the Foundation’s purpose and consistent with our low profile posture in the funding community. To accomplish these tasks we will take an active stance in helping recipient organization enhance the prestige associated with their grant in order that media coverage assist them as well the Foundation in achieving effective representation. That issue will be addressed at the appropriate time as directed by the board of Directors in keeping with foundation policy.

Evaluation of Grant Request

Grant proposal applications are evaluated in the context of the Foundation’s mission, priorities, interests and available resources. Although there may be exceptions, grants will not usually be made for endowments, capital campaigns, general operating support or to the same charity more than five years in succession. Also, as a general rule, the Foundation will not fund an organization which expends more than fifteen percent of its annual revenue for administration, overhead and fundraising. Additionally, funding is not considered for organizations related in any way to political action or lobbying groups of any kind and, projects so specialized that the results expected would not have a potentially wide application.

Evaluation of application request will be made by the Board of Directors who meet throughout the year and make decisions as to actual grants during the spring quarter of the year with notification being made during the month of June, unless otherwise specified by the Board of Directors.

Inquires and proposals should be directed to:

Children’s Care Foundation
307 North Michigan Avenue
Suite 1005
Chicago, Illinois 60601


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Children’s Care Foundation
307 North Michigan Avenue
Suite 1005
Chicago, Illinois 60601