Nominations Open for 150th Anniversary Awards

March 25, 2019

Recognizing Excellence in Service to Children

Too often, the people who most deserve to be recognized and celebrated for their commitment to helping children flourish and thrive are the same people who are too busy doing great work to seek out accolades and awards.

Each year, Bright Promises Foundation relies on you, our community, to tell us who these unsung heroes of the child-serving community are. Through our open nomination process, we allow our community to guide us who most deserves to be recognized with our annual awards. Then the Bright Promises Foundation Awards committee reviews the nominations and selects the honorees they feel most deeply embody Bright Promises' mission and vision for a bright future for our children.

Our goal is to activate our network to identify those individuals who are creating opportunities for every child to reach their full promise and potential, and who most deserve to be honored for all that they have done and continue to do to help our children succeed.

At the 150th Anniversary Awards celebration this October, Bright Promises Foundation will present two very special awards, one to a civic or community leader and one to a child-serving professional, recognizing their exemplary service to the children and youth of Illinois and commitment to creating opportunities for all children to reach their full promise and potential.

“It is not often in life that we are rewarded for what we do,” said  Dr. Barbara Bowman, co-founder of Erikson Institute and recipient of the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award, “With these awards, Bright Promises Foundation shows its commitment to the well-being of every child, and validates the importance of the care and education of young children.”

Nominations for the Champion for Children Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award are now open. 

The deadline to nominate is Friday, May 3 at 5:00p.

Complete the online nomination form here:

Thank you to the youth I work with for teaching me courage… and to Bright Promises Foundation for reminding me that our work really matters.” - Maria Paula Gareza Degillo, 2018 honoree  (photo by Stephen J. Serio Photography)

About the Awards

The Champion for Children Award is presented to an individual or organization that has shown exceptional dedication in their support for at-risk children as a civic and community leader, and whose commitment and belief in building a better future for Chicago kids has helped the child-serving community attain new levels of success.

Past Champion for Children honorees include Doug Mabie (2018), Thomas Hale (2017) and Gigi Pritzker (2016).

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the unflagging commitment of the honoree to improve the lives of vulnerable children in Illinois. This award is given to an exemplary leader whose actions, achievements and service to children stand as a model to others. Recognition is given to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the welfare of children and to programs benefiting disadvantaged children during his or her lifetime in a volunteer or professional capacity.  

Past honorees include Nancy Ronquillo (2018), Dr. Linda Gilkerson (2017), Ron Manderschied (2016), Alex Kotlowitz (2015), Bryan Samuels (2014), Marjorie Craig Benton (2013), Prudence Beidler (2012), Dr. Katherine Kaufer Christoffel (2011), Dr. Barbara Bowman (2010), Bernice Weissbourd (2009), Jerome Stermer (2008), Dr. Joseph DiCara (2007), Mark Duhon (2006), John Horan (2005)

In lieu of presenting a single Bright Star Award this year, and in celebration of our 150th year of service to children and youth, Bright Promises Foundation will present five $10,000 grants to outstanding youth-led organizations to support the work of youth leaders who are taking the lead to create positive change in their communities. To learn more about the Elevating Youth Voices Special Initiative, including these special $10,000 grants, please visit

With the right kinds of opportunity, anything is possible for any kid.” - Marco Brion Dodd, 2018 honoree, with Bright Promises Foundation President Gaylord Gieseke.
(photo by Stephen J. Serio Photography)

Lean In: A Message of Hope

Watch this video created together with the 2018 Awards honorees to share their message of hope for a brighter future for children and youth in Metropolitan Chicago. This video was premiered at the 2018 Awards celebration last fall.

Questions about Bright Promises' awards or submitting a nomination? Please contact Katherine Dreher Korey at or 312-704-8260.