Nominations Open for 2018 Awards

March 22, 2018
Pictured (from left): Past award recipients Dr. Linda Gilkerson, Eddie Bocanegra, Alex Kotlowitz, Mariame Kaba, Gigi Pritzker, Ron Manderschied, & Maria Munoz



Bright Promises Foundation, a Chicago-based public charity serving children since 1869, announced that nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 Awards, which recognize those who have demonstrated outstanding service and commitment to low-income and at-risk children in a professional or volunteer capacity.

Dr. Barbara Bowman (left), co-founder of Erikson Institute and recipient of the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award, with 2017 Lifetime Achivement Award recipient Dr. Linda Gilkerson.

“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.”


There are three categories of awards:

● The Champion for Children Award is presented to a civic or community leader.

● The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a professional with 10+ years in children’s services.

● The Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award is presented to an early career professional and accompanied by a $5,000 honorarium for professional development.


The Bright Promises Foundation Board of Directors invites the public to submit nominations for these awards by 5:00 pm on Friday, April 27.


Nominations can be submitted online here:


The 2018 Awards will be presented on Tuesday, September 25, at the University Club of Chicago. This event is free to attend; for more information, visit



Champion for Children Award

The Champion for Children Award recognizes and honors an individual, family or business whose commitment and belief in building a better future for Chicago kids is exemplary. This award is presented for exceptional dedication, commitment and belief in building a better future for Chicago kids to a person or organization who has helped the child-serving community attain new levels of success. 

Past honorees:

Lifetime Achievement Award 

The Lifetime Achievement Award  recognizes a professional  who has made 10+ years of outstanding contributions to the welfare of children and to programs benefiting disadvantaged children during his or her lifetime.

Past honorees:

Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award 

The Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award is given to an early or mid-career professional in children's services with less than 10 years of professional experience who shows great motivation, enthusiasm and promise in exemplifying our mission to benefit disadvantaged children in Illinois. The Bright Star Award is presented at our annual Awards event and is accompanied by an honorarium of $5,000. The Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award is given in memory of Ed Marciniak who served on the Board of Bright Promises Foundation, formerly known as the Illinois Humane Society, from 1955 until his death in 2004. Marciniak also served as president of the Institute of Urban Life at Loyola University from 1973 until 2004. He advised scores of community agencies and schools and founded many organizations linking faith and work, including the Chicago chapter of The Catholic Worker and the National Center for the Laity. He was best known for founding the Catholic Labor Alliance in 1943 and publishing its hard-hitting newspaper titled Work. The Bright Promises Foundation Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award focuses on former Board President Ed Marciniak’s interest in reaching out to individuals early in their career and encouraging them to stay involved in the lives of children.

Past honorees:




The mission of Bright Promises Foundation is to address the most urgent, unmet needs of low-income and at-risk children in the Greater Metropolitan Chicago Area. The Foundation carefully selects leading community-based social service agencies and provides the necessary expertise, experience, and financial support to assist these agencies to implement and expand cutting-edge programs for children and families.


Currently, Bright Promises Foundation is working to address such critical issues as promoting resilience in children who have experienced childhood trauma, engaging parents in children’s healthy social and emotional development, and ensuring access to high-quality early childhood education for low-income children.


Alex Kotlowitz, national best-selling author of There Are No Children Here, who received the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award applauds the transformative impact of Bright Promises’ one-of-a-kind approach to grantmaking: “Their commitment to vulnerable children inspires. Bright Promises ability to find the cracks, to fund programs that otherwise might atrophy is what makes the Foundation’s work so remarkable.”