Why We Do What We Do

Chicago’s northwest and western suburbs include some of the wealthiest communities in the region. However, a quick look at the 14 towns that surround the Woodfield area and you’ll find that on average 12.2 percent of all families of four with children between the ages of six and 11 years of age live below the poverty level, defined as a total household income of $25,750 /year or less. Can you imagine, as a parent, providing all the essentials (food, housing, transportation, child care assistance, and medical care) for your family of four on a budget of less than $500 a week?  Of course, the numbers vary by town and individual school, with Elgin and Carpentersville hitting peaks of 22 and 29 percent living below the poverty level. Consider the impact on school success when one-quarter of the kids in a single city or school are living at or below the under the poverty.  And consider that in Illinois, a family’s income must be at 185 percent or below of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for the family to be income eligible for the Childcare Assistance program, as administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services.  At a November 2018 conference hosted by Harper College and made possible by United Palatine Coalition and Northwest Education Council for Student Success, Elizabeth Kneebone, research director of University of California-Berkeley's Terner Center for Housing Innovation reported:  

  • Low-income populations more than doubled since 2000 in 12 suburban communities -- nine of them the Northwest suburban towns of Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Carpentersville, Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, Hanover Park, Palatine, Schaumburg, and Wheeling.
  • Nearly half of the low-income population in the Northwest suburbs are children and seniors.

Highlights from 2018

In the last year, thanks to your generous donations, contributions, and volunteer efforts, WACO was able to help more families living at and below the poverty level than ever before.

  • Purchased and installed new computers and printers at one of our agencies.
  • More than 1500 children and their parents have benefited from our Learning in the 21st Century initiative [link to page] Funded a year-long breakfast program for one of Schaumburg’s schools through the District 54 Food for Thought program.
  • The $10,000 provided a nutritious breakfast for children who would otherwise go without a morning meal.
  • Gifted new winter coats, hats, mittens, and gloves to more than 550 children, ages 0-11.
  • Took nearly 600 preschoolers shopping for gifts in celebration 26th year of Holiday Shopping Tours.
  • Contributed more than 450 backpacks filled with school supplies to area children living at and below the poverty level.
  • Granted three college scholarships to area high school seniors in recognition of their service to the community.