Common Purpose is 30

What will our legacy be?


In 2037, Chicago will be 200 years old – how will you shape your city's future? What will be your legacy? Join the Chicago200...

The next Chicago200 program will run on September 1, October 1,4 & 5, 2021

Chicago200 is an annual leadership program that convenes young diverse leaders from across the Chicagoland area to address the question: "How will we make Chicago a city for all?"

We have a moment for re-imagination! Instead of things going back to the way they were prior to the events of 2020, we can come together to tackle the issues that keep us divided.

Over ten years, Chicago200 aims to engage and develop 2,000 diverse leaders, who are committed to reshaping their city.

We are currently also running an online version of the program, find more information here

Frank Lawrence Jr, Participant, Chicago200

"The program provided me with insight into Chicago’s young leaders and how those individuals were impacting change. I grow inspired at the thought of the program and am thankful to have had the opportunity to participate. I believe this will impact Chicago's future in significant ways.”

Why Chicago200?

Boundaries are everywhere: between sectors, specializations, geographies, generations, backgrounds and beliefs. Chicago is replete with boundaries, and will not reach its true potential unless we break through these boundaries. Chicago200 aims to do this by convening the next generation of leaders to establish diverse relationships, facilitate crucial conversations, and collaborate around future solutions.

What happens on the program?

Due to Covid precautions, for 2021 programs will be delivered online via Zoom.

Over four days, Chicago200 participants will brainstorm, test, refine and present their visions for Chicago. In the process, these young leaders will explore different perspectives of the city and learn from established public, private, and non-profit leaders. They will investigate key issues, hold difficult conversations, and collaborate around tangible solutions for Chicago.

On each program, around 30 established leaders from across the city will serve as group advisors, speakers and immersion hosts. They will be supporting the participants of Chicago200 – and in doing so they will see the city through the eyes of the next generation of leaders.


The initiative launched in 2019 as a pilot. The goal is that over the next ten years, a diverse alumni group of 2,000 leaders will emerge from the program who can think beyond today to forge Chicago's path for tomorrow. As advisors to established leaders in the city, the 200 will express their vision for the city through local media and help shape Chicago’s future. By 2037, ten big ideas will have emerged, which these leaders will be supported to make a reality. Furthermore, Chicago200 alumni will lead the initiative moving forward and cultivate the next 2,000 young leaders with the same charge to look beyond Chicago turning 200.

Daniel O. Ash, Chair of Chicago200 Steering Committee, Chief Marketing Officer, The Chicago Community Trust

"Chicago200, in my view, is an enormous opportunity to bring together youth leaders in a bold and equitable manner."

Program outcome

"What will we make our city known for by its 200th Birthday?" We are delighted that five ideas from the program were immediately picked up by foundations. These ideas were:

  • 200 Lots, 200 Opportunities – Amplifying communities through revitalization, connection, and collaboration by utilizing the many vacant lots in neighbourhoods to create space for activities.
  • Commitment to 50 – A pledge for businesses and institutions in the city to sign up to, to commit to engaging and providing equitable opportunities to communities across the 50 wards of Chicago.
  • Chicago Youth Trust – A youth council that aims to equitably allocate funding and build the capacity of future leaders.
  • The Collective – A collective of young people from all across Chicago that creates events and spaces to bridge divides across neighbourhoods, races, and classes.
  • Deep Dish-Cussions – Giving young people from different parts of the city the opportunity to physically get together and connect for discussions and pizza.

Assessment Results:


I am more able to lead or work within diverse teams of people


I feel more connected to my city


The network I built on Chicago200 will enable me to make a difference in Chicago

The application process for Chicago200 involves answering three questions about your passion for leadership and your city. These questions can be answered by whichever means feels most comfortable to you, be it written, video submission, a piece of artwork, song or photograph – however you best feel you can express your desire to take responsibility for the legacy of Chicago.

This piece was a response by a participant from our first cohort, to the question: "What do you think Chicago is known for now?"

Saúl Alejandro Zamora Jr – Chicago, Illinois

Salem Abughnaim, Participant, Chicago200

"Chicago200 brought together different groups together from communities I don't normally interact with. I learned to open up my mind and listen to those speaking who have lived different realities across the city."


Chicago200 is a partnership between The Chicago Community Trust and Common Purpose; it is supported by the following organizations: City Colleges of Chicago, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, University of Chicago, Northern Trust, Chicago Public Media, 1871 and Civitas Child Law Center, Loyola University to ensure this program is reflective of the city

The Chicago Community Trust is a community foundation dedicated to improving our region through strategic grant making, civic engagement and inspiring philanthropy. We are here to serve the nonprofit organizations, the generous donors and the thoughtful residents who strive to make a difference, helping their bold vision create lasting community change. We work with a number of partnerships and initiatives to accomplish this work.

As businesses, local governments, and organizations strive to solve pressing challenges, the Trust brings these key actors together. Working together, we leverage collective knowledge, creativity and resources for a greater impact than any of us can make alone.

The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) protects people from life's uncertainties with more than 113 million proprietary policies. Allstate offers a broad array of protection products through multiple brands and diverse distribution channels, including auto, home, life and other insurance offered through its Allstate, Esurance, Encompass, SquareTrade and Answer Financial brands. Allstate is widely known from the slogan "You're in Good Hands with Allstate."

Common Purpose is a leadership development organization that specializes in cross-boundary leadership. A not-for-profit, we run programs in over 100 cities worldwide. Founded in 1989, we have over 90,000 alumni globally. Our leadership development programs inspire and equip people to work across boundaries. This enables them to solve complex problems in organizations and in society.

Liliana Villa, Participant, Chicago200

“Chicago200 has developed me as a leader by challenging me to have deeper conversations with people who don't look like me.”


Read the Chicago200 Impact Report.


When? September 1, October 1,4 & 5, 2021

Where? Online. All sessions are on Zoom.

How much? FREE

Who can apply? Young leaders aged 18-25

Connect with us:

Twitter: @TheChicago200

Instagram: @TheChicago200

Edward Evans III, Participant, Chicago200

"Chicago 200 has given me many new insights into what it takes to be a leader, that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I have gained long-lasting relationships through the program and it helped to open opportunities for me."

Program images courtesy Andrew Merz