On The Table History

Having important conversations that prompt a deeper commitment to our community has been part of The Chicago Community Trust since its founding in 1915 when Albert Harris and his father Norman, of the Harris Bank, brought together other civic leaders over mealtime conversations to talk about how they could make the city even better. They decided to pool their resources to maximize their charitable impact – and the Trust was born.

For more than a century, the Trust has convened civic leaders, nonprofits, and its donors to channel their resources to make our region stronger. This included a series of “Chicago Dinners” in the late 1990s and early 2000s in partnership with the Human Relations Commission. This series of small, informal mealtime conversations brought together area residents from different races and ethnicities to talk in a very personal, and often very challenging way about race relations. On the eve of its 99th anniversary, the Trust continued this tradition, and organized the first ever On the Table to engage everyday residents in discussing ways we can continue to strengthen our community.

On the Table 2014
May 12, 2014

Details

At the inaugural On the Table, nearly 1,100 mealtime conversations were held at private residences, backyards, local restaurants and other community locations. In total, more than 11,500 Chicagoland residents of all ages, from all walks of life and socioeconomic circumstances, engaged in thought-provoking discussions to shape a public agenda to build and maintain communities that are strong, safe and dynamic.

Collaboratories
Summer 2014

Details

Coming out of On the Table conversations, participants were encouraged to share specific ideas from their conversations with the Trust and nearly 1,000 were submitted in 2014. Six ideas were chosen as finalists for a follow-on project, an extension of On the Table called “collaboratories.” The Trust provided consultant support to assist these working groups in further defining and stewarding their ideas into action. Their work culminated at “Demo Day” – an opportunity for all six collaboratories to present their ideas and progress to a team of local leaders for feedback on next steps and potential funding opportunities.

Residents Participated
Ideas submitted
residents participated

On the Table 2015
May 12, 2015

Details

On the 100th anniversary of the founding of The Chicago Community Trust, On the Table officially launched the Centennial campaign with mealtime conversations designed to recognize and celebrate the philanthropic work of organizations and individuals, inspiring more Chicago-area residents to give their time, treasure and talent. In all, more than 25,000 residents participated in conversations at nearly 2,000 On the Table events.

On the Table 2016
May 10, 2016

Details

More than 55,000 residents came together at nearly 3,500 tables across the city and suburbs for On the Table 2016 in an effort to elevate civic conversation, foster new relationships and create a unifying experience across the region. Coming out of the 2016 conversations, the Trust introduced the Acting Up awards – a video contest that encouraged On the Table participants to submit ideas for positive change to be considered for $1,000 awards to put their idea into action.

With support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Trust hosted an On the Table learning symposium in conjunction with the 2016 conversations, attended by more than 60 individuals from 40 cities, 25 states and Canada representing community foundations, government and nonprofit organizations that were interested in learning more and potentially replicating the initiative.

Acting Up in action
Summer 2016

Details

Partnering with Goodcity Chicago, nearly 400 entries were submitted for the inaugural Acting Up awards and 64 awards were given to a wide range of projects – hosting an event to provide accessible breast cancer screenings for women with disabilities, holding art workshops for senior citizens on the West Side, providing youth with free bike helmets to accompany 500 free bicycles on the South Side, mini-libraries built in neighborhoods across the city and more.

Residents participated
awards given
Points of engagement
diverse projects

On the Table 2017
May 16, 2017

Details

Nearly 100,000 people engaged with On the Table 2017 on social media; through workshops; and as hosts, participants and partners around 5,800 tables in every Chicago neighborhood and throughout suburban communities. Residents convened on issues that matter and championed causes to strengthen the region.

More Acting Up
Summer 2017

Details

The Acting Up awards returned for the second year – prizes totaling $135,500 were given to 71 diverse projects discussed during On the Table 2017 to benefit neighborhoods.

On the Table 2018
May 8, 2018

Details

On the Table 2018 returns for its fifth year, with hope that all participants will be even more intentional about making connections that will spark positive action and change.

Years

On the Table is a proven and powerful civic engagement tool that has truly sparked a national movement. Since the Trust launched the initiative in 2014, more than 25 communities have replicated the project. This includes an ongoing commitment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as well as a number of cities who have launched the initiative with support and counsel from the Trust.

Cheryl Hughes Cheryl Hughes @CherylHughes20 RT @JeanWestrick: Got ideas to strengthen #Chicago? Want to take action with your neighbors & get up to $5000 to do so? Need to know how to… 2 days ago
BolingbrookEvents BolingbrookEvents @BBrookEvents RT @ccarpos: It is such a good feeling when people can gather around a table solely for the purpose of making their community (and the yout… 3 days ago
Michael Carpanzano Michael Carpanzano @EMCEEisMC RT @ccarpos: It is such a good feeling when people can gather around a table solely for the purpose of making their community (and the yout… 3 days ago
Michael Carpanzano Michael Carpanzano @ccarpos It is such a good feeling when people can gather around a table solely for the purpose of making their community (a… https://t.co/GXdYraxHXv 3 days ago
Kyla Kyla @SmartKyla_ RT @JeanWestrick: Got ideas to strengthen #Chicago? Want to take action with your neighbors & get up to $5000 to do so? Need to know how to… 3 days ago
Chalkbeat Chicago Chalkbeat Chicago @chalkbeatCHI RT @ChiTrust: DEADLINE EXTENDED: If you live in #Chicago and participated in #OnTheTable2018 you now have until JUNE 1 to apply!! Go here f… 4 days ago
Karla B Karla B @swimdixie RT @ChiTrust: DEADLINE EXTENDED: If you live in #Chicago and participated in #OnTheTable2018 you now have until JUNE 1 to apply!! Go here f… 4 days ago
Jean Westrick Jean Westrick @JeanWestrick More #OnTheTable2018! Tonight’s conversation is going to focus on #MassIncarceration and the intersection of… https://t.co/PAHQtBjBcz 4 days ago
Katelyn Katelyn @katelynyosh RT @ChiTrust: DEADLINE EXTENDED: If you live in #Chicago and participated in #OnTheTable2018 you now have until JUNE 1 to apply!! Go here f… 4 days ago
ADA 25 Advancing Leadership ADA 25 Advancing Leadership @ADA25AdvLeaders RT @ChiTrust: DEADLINE EXTENDED: If you live in #Chicago and participated in #OnTheTable2018 you now have until JUNE 1 to apply!! Go here f… 4 days ago
Judy Hsu Judy Hsu @JudyHsuABC7 RT @ChiTrust: DEADLINE EXTENDED: If you live in #Chicago and participated in #OnTheTable2018 you now have until JUNE 1 to apply!! Go here f… 5 days ago
Chgo Community Trust Chgo Community Trust @ChiTrust DEADLINE EXTENDED: If you live in #Chicago and participated in #OnTheTable2018 you now have until JUNE 1 to apply!!… https://t.co/f7YRJxHVhO 5 days ago