Ellen Stirling’s Lake Forest Shop Your Cause 2014

Social Entrepreneur Ellen Stirling Instinctively Creates Virtuous Circles – An Influential And Stylish Woman Always Ahead Of Her Times

Ellen Stirling carries on in the tradition of her trendsetting, progressive, glamorous relatives.  Her aunt married to Conde Nast and loved clothes so much that she founded the Lake Forest Shop more than 90 years ago.  Ellen runs it now. And she has always run it to do the most good she possibly can for the community that she loves. Like most smart women in business, she instinctively is a social entrepreneur.

Her annual “Shop Your Cause” is a great example of this.  The shop brings in designers sure to entice and throws a fabulous party honoring leaders at multiple nonprofits.  That night and for days after, the shop donates a % of shopping proceeds to the organizations. You can see this event and others scheduled at the shop here.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill girls night out;  it’s a multi-day, multi-vendor, multi-NFP extravaganza!  This year Ellen even added a “Spanx Party” too.  Who could say no to Spanxing their figure while they support a cause they hold dear? The event details are:

  • October 8 Shop Your Cause Opening Night 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
  • October 8-11 SHOP YOUR CAUSE
  • October 8-10 Spanx

Ellen is the seated beauty in Make It Better orange (of course!).  She’s flanked by the honorees representing the beloved NFP’s below.Ellen Stirling with Shop Your Cause NFP Honorees


Lake Forest Symphony Mission;

The Lake Forest Symphony Guild exists to service and raise funds for the Lake Forest Symphony. Shop Your Cause money will go to the Lake Forest Symphony
the new music director” Vladimir Kulenovic 2014-15 season, which will be about growth, expansion, and commitment to artistic quality. The orchestra will present five diverse classical symphonic presentations in the months to come. Opening concerts will be held on September 6th and 7th
Honoree: Mathilda Williams
Mission; The Deer Path Art League strives to spark, nurture, and enhance creativity as well as raise awareness and appreciation for arts in the community.
Lake Forest Preservation Foundation Mission; Lake Forest Preservation Foundation’s mission is to protect the visual character of Lake Forest through a shared commitment to inspire the appreciation of and respect for our vast historic resources.The money raised from Shop Your Cause will be used to educate, advocate and fund the preservation of the city’s historic visual character.Honoree:  Maureen Grinnell

Adeline Morrison

Adeline Morrison, Honoree for Lake County Community Foundation – Shop Your Cause

Ragdale Radale is a nonprofit artists community located on Architect Howard Van Doren Shaw’s country estate in Lake Forest,Il.
Lake Forest Open Lands Mission; Lake Forest Open Lands Association is dedicated to conserving our natural environment through land acquisition, habitat restoration, environmental education and conservation advocacy.
2014 honorees—Shawn Gore, Kristin McCain and Kristin Ryan
Eco Myths Alliance Mission; EcoMyths uses humor to teach young people about the environment and empower them to live in eco-friendly ways. EcoMyths’ environmental myth-busting articles, cartoons, videos, and radio shows present easy to understand science with wit and without guilt. Their vision is to help make eco-friendly living mainstream and easy.
Honoree: Ellen Stirling
Mission; Bernie’s Book Bank is a non-profit organization that collects, processes and distributes quality new and used children’s books to significantly increase BOOK OWNERSHIP among at-risk infants, toddlers and school-age children throughout Chicagoland.
Mission; Since 2003, The Lake County Community Foundation, an affiliate of The Chicago Community Trust, has partnered with donors to leverage and guide their philanthropy to help transform the lives of the most vulnerable people across our county. Together, we have contributed over $2.5 million to 80 nonprofit organizations that support basic human needs, community development, education and health throughout Lake County.
Honoree names – Mrs. Addie Morrison
Citadel Theatre
Mission; Citadel Theatre is committed to producing powerful works of insight and complexity that illuminate the challenges and joys of the human experience. Dedicated to maintaining the highest standard of professionalism, Citadel seeks to provide both a creative haven for passionate, visionary directors, writers, actors and designers and a home for an audience that seeks to experience the emotional and intellectual richness that the best theatre inspires.

Wit, Grit & Good Values: HGSE’s Critical Conversations & Bold Ideas Campaign

I wanted to provide an overview of some poignant take aways from the Harvard Graduate School of Education launch of Critical Conversations and Bold Ideas Campaign that I attendedHGSE. This session provided eight professors with the opportunity to share their bold ideas to improve education.  Here’s a recap of several of their ideas along with the top videos. I also posted about Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s talk with Professor Monica Higgins and you can view a recap of their discussion here and watch the video as well.
What does it take to succeed in life? According to Howard Gardner – who developed the concepts of multiple intelligences and good work – at today’s “Learn To Change The World” launch at the Harvard Graduate School Of Education, all it takes is wit, grit and good values.

And that’s all it will take for society to change the way it educates all children, to insure that all get a good education.

Howard ended with this Tweet.





Another speaker,  Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville championed policies that braided social support for families with traditional education.

His methods were so effective that he now champions similar strategies for the entire country as the HGSE Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration.

“Our current urban school systems are outmoded and insufficient to overcome society’s hurdles.”

Reville and HGSE are perfectly poised to create 21st Century models that ensure a better education and future for every child, and consequently a better world for all.

Yet another speaker, HGSE Dean Bridget Terry Long proclaimed that not all educational reform has to blow up a current system to make a big difference.  Long proves this with her work making the federal application for financial aid simpler and more effective for low-income students.

Finally, Thomas Kane spoke on how HGSE is perfectly poised to develop research projects with smart data analysts across the country.  Doing more of this before embarking on poorly researched federal mandates will save society money and create a better education system faster.

Win for our pocketbooks. Win for society.

My Mom’s Amazing Care at Rush University Medical Center

Rush University Medical Center
After my mother’s recent surgery by Dr. Vincent Traynelis, Director of Neurosurgery Spine Service at Rush and the extraordinary care she received in the new hospital, I am prouder than ever about Make It Better‘s support for this event.
Mom’s surgery and post operative stay was in the new butterfly shaped, gold LEED certified, quiet, sunny, better-healing-guaranteed hospital that Rush opened in 2012. A growing body of research concludes that some hospital designs are more healing than others.  Count me a big believer of this, after my mom’s Rush experience!  The attitude of staff makes a big difference too.
Rush University Medical Center

COO of Rush Peter Butler paying my mom a visit during her stay. The care was excellent.

I pray for more people to be able to receive the quality of care that mom was provided.  Raising money for the new neurological imaging equipment will make that happen.  I am particularly delighted that Make It Better is the media sponsor of The Women’s Board of Rush University Medical Center’s fashion show this year.

We love that three local boutiques are participating in this event too – Lake Forest Shop, NeapolitanNeapolitan & Chalk Boutique
Please join me and Make It Better at the show or find other ways to support this important initiative too.

To learn more and to purchase tickets, visit: http://thefashionshow.org/
MIB Connection to Rush University Medical Center
Make it Better has covered Rush University Medical Center Women’s Board Fashion show many times over the years in support of this amazing mission. First, we told you about how Marletta Darnall never imagined how important her volunteer work would be as a model when she was then diagnosed with cancer. We also covered the new look of the show a few years back, supporting the event and driving traffic for the great cause.
This year will be 88th Annual Rush Fashion Show, “IMAGINE”, to be held on Thursday, October 2nd.  Gloria Masterson (Fashion Show Chair) and Catherine King (Woman’s Board President) have worked tirelessly for over a year to bring a new vibe and hip aura to the longest running charity fashion show in Chicago.
Here’s the news they are reporting on the upcoming event;
This year will be completely different from years past as the show has been moved to the newly renovated Morgan Manufacturing, a pre-Chicago Fire building that will lend an edgy, industrial elegance to the ambiance of the night.
The Board reports; “This year the Woman’s Board has committed to raise $500,000 to support Intraoperative Imaging Technology that will allow the removal of complex brain tumors with greater accuracy and efficacy. Rush’s neurosurgeons already treat more neuro-oncology cases than any other team in the Chicago region and would be the first hospital within the city to employ this unique technology.”


I am excited for all that’s in store with this year’s show. Spread the word and we hope to see you there….


Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone Sets Example

@Geoffrey Canada, HGSE graduate and Founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, presents a most compelling venture philanthropy case. It only costs $5000 per year per child for the Zone to insure that every child living within its 100 block radius to get a good education from birth through college.

The goal at Harlem Children’s Zone is simple;

“to give our kids the individualized support they need to get to and through college and become productive, self-sustaining adults. Realizing this goal is difficult and complex, particularly since we are working with over 12,000 youth, many of them with tough challenges.”Harlem Children's Zone

Geoffrey CanadaOnly $5000.

It costs New York City $167,000 per person per year to incarcerate a similar number of young adults. That’s right, society’s paying a whopping $162,000 per year more per person!
We can’t afford NOT to educate well every child in our country much longer! http://ow.ly/BPilI See the Fortune article on Geoffrey, naming him one of the 50 greatest leaders. 

Join the crusade! Look at the Practitioners Institute, with best practices and pivotal guidance to groups from across the U.S. and around the world invested in replicating this model.

Part 8; MIB Supported TOP AUCTION Fundraisers


Lyric Opera of Chicago Wine Auction (2/7/15)Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago will again celebrate grand opera, fine wine and philanthropy to raise funds during the unforgettably glamorous Wine Auction 2015. This elaborate event will take place on Saturday, February 7, 2015 on the stage of the Ardis Krainik Theatre. Wine Auction 2012 netted a record breaking $1.7 million in support of the Lyric Opera and was recognized in April 2013 by Wine Spectator as one of the “Top Ten Charity Wine Auctions of 2012.”

Writers Theatre WordPlay Gala & Auction (4/2015)Goodman Theatre Fame, Fantasy, Food and Adventure Auction (2/2015)  Writers Theatre in glencoeThis years adventure in Fame, Fantasy and Food Adventure Auction takes place at the Peninsula promises to be unforgettable.

And a few more to consider;

Writers Theatre WordPlay Gala & Auction (4/2015)

Cubs Charities Bricks and Ivy Ball (4/2015) Cubs Charities and Cubs Care, a fund of the McCormick Foundation, have donated a total of more than $23 million to Chicago area non-profits since 1991.We support them and hope you will too by attending the amazing event.

Bears Care (6/2015) Another great organization supporting the Chicago communities in need.

American Cancer Society Discovery Ball (4/2015) Take a look at a few of the videos from last years event. It’s a great cause and an amazing organization to be part ot.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater Gala Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (6/2015)



If you missed my other Blog posts highlighting more MIB supported fundraisers by category, please click on links below.

Part 7; Top MIB Fundraiser Events in Art, Antiques and Home Decor in Chicago

Part 6; Top MIB Supported Fundraiser Galas

Part 5; Top MIB Supported Fundraisers for Families

Part 4; MIB Supported Fundraisers for Fashionistas 

Part 7; MIB Top Fundraisers in Art, Antiques and Home Decor

With just two categories to go, this Part 7 post highlights MIB Supported fundraisers in that host art, antique and home decor galas. Don’t miss these- support the arts and attend!


1. Chicago International Art, Antique & Jewelry Show Opening Night Party (4/30-5/4/15) We are a proud sponsor of this event and it’s one to be remembered.

2. Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Art in Motion (2/2015) We’re moving onto the 13th Annual Art in Motion fundraiser support the cause of Art Therapy. James Rondeau, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, selects exhibition participants and awards the most outstanding works submitted by hundreds of artists from around the country. Watch a clip on WTTW of this years event.

3. The Chicago Lighthouse Associate Board’s House and Garden Walk (6/2015)  The Chicago Lighthouse is one of the country’s most comprehensive social service agencies serving people who are blind or visually impaired. What a way to support them with this lovely spring garden walk.

4. Infant Welfare Society of Chicago Showhouse & Gardens Event (Spring 2015) Held by the Lake Forest Chapter, this is an amazing way to welcome the warmer weather and see amazing homes and gardens on the North Shore.

5. Junior League of Evanston-North Shore Designer Kitchens of the North Shore (5/2015) What a great cause to support and an amazing view of spectacular kitchens in homes across the North Shore with this Designer Kitchen event.

CooksTour26. The Winnetka Auxiliary of the Women’s Board of Rush University Medical Center Cooks’ Tour (9/2015) We at Make It Better covered this event a few years back and it was a huge success. Read more about it.

7. The Auxiliary Board of NorthShore University HealthSystem American Craft Exposition (8/2015)

Please also take a look at the other MIB supported Galas in the past several blog posts;



If you missed my other Blog posts highlighting more MIB supported fundraisers by category, please click on links below.

Part 6; Top MIB Supported Fundraiser Galas

Part 5; Top MIB Supported Fundraisers for Families

Part 4; MIB Supported Fundraisers for Fashionistas 

Part 5; MIB Supported Fundraisers for Families

Why not get the entire family involved while helping to support a great cause. Here are some of our favorite fundraiser events FOR FAMILIES:

1.  Chicago Botanic Garden HallowFest (10/25-26/14)

Chicago Botanic Garden Hallow FestIt’s always fun to bring the kids to the festivities at Chicago Botanic Garden’s HallowFest. Register now.

2. Field Museum Women’s Board Children’s Holiday Celebration (12/2014)

The Women’s Board is an amazing group of nearly 300 of Chicago’s most active and civic-minded citizens that share an interest in promoting awareness of The Field Museum’s exhibitions, collections, research and public programs. This family event is a holiday favorite.

3. Lyric Opera’s The Magic Victrola (1/17/15)Chicago Lyric Opera's Magic Victrola

This is a family-friendly introduction to opera and always a pleasure to attend.

4. Joffrey Ballets The Nutcracker Opening Night (12/5/14)This is a Chicago Tradition with with Tchaikovsky’s glorious score played live by The Chicago Philharmonic.

5. Kohl Children’s Museum Touch A Truck Family Festival (5/2015)

Forget ordering the fire truck to drive up to your house; here at the Touch a Truck event, children can get a close up look at the real things! Climb aboard many super-sized vehicles in a safe, protected environment.

Please also take a look at the other Blog posts to find more MIB supported fundraisers by category.

Part 5; Fundraisers for Families

Part 4; MIB Supported Fundraisers for Fashionistas 

Part 4; MIB Supported Fundraisers for Fashionistas

If you love your fashion and want to support the best causes in the area, take a look at these Make It Better supported organizations.


1. Joffrey Ballet Swan Lake Luncheon (10/1/14)

The Joffrey’s Swan Lake Luncheon is not to be missed. It’s right around the corner so put in on the calendar soon.
2. Women’s Board of Rush University Medical Center Annual Fashion Show (10/2/14)

This will be the 88th Annual Fashion Show for the Women’s Board of Rush University Medical Center, Imagine held at the brand new Morgan Manufactoring event space located at 401 N. Morgan St. in Chicago. Proceeds from this year’s event will support state-of-the-art intraoperative imaging technology for Rush’s nationally recognized neurosurgeons, led by Drs. Lorenzo Munoz and Richard Byrne.

3. Northwestern University Settlement Houses Style Under the Stars (Spring/Fall 2015)

Northwestern University Settlement HouseThis November of 2014 will bring the NUSH Style Under the Stars so mark your calendars for the Winnetka Board’s annual evening of fashion for your and your home!  All proceeds benefit Northwestern Settlement’s programs. The event will be held at Michigan Shores Club in Wilmette.

4. Autohaus on Edens LAUNCH Fashion Show (3/2015)

Mercedes Benz and Fashion come together for a fashion show to be remembered. Watch the video from this years event and join for next years.

5. Costume Council of Chicago History Museums Costume Ball (11/14/14)

Chicago History Museum Costume BallThe Chicago History Museum celebrates the latest exhibit with this bash.

Please help us in congratulating these fantastic events. Show your support by participating and attending the next event.

 Be sure to also see the other posts in this series;

Part 2; Best Annual MIB Supported Fundraisers

Welcome back to Part 2 of my posting of top MIB Supported Fundraisers.

Today, we’ll look at top NFP Gala’s in the area of Service and Schools.

1. City Year Ripples of Hope Gala (4/2015) This year’s Gala was a huge success; it took place on April 9, 2014 and raised a total of $903,685 in support of our service to the students of Chicago. View photos from the evening on City Year’s Flickr Page. Thanks were given out to ;

Mayor Rahm Emanuel
City of Chicago

Mark Furlong
CEO, BMO Harris Bank

Read and subscribe to the City Year Blog, as well.

2. Posse Foundation Chicago Golf Outing and Cocktail + Dinner Reception, (9/2015)

Their website says it all; “Posse is one of the most comprehensive and renowned college access and youth leadership development programs in the United States. In fact, President Barack Obama said in an interview in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “One of this year’s MacArthur awardees—the ‘genius’ awards—is an innovator named Deborah Bial. She proposed a model to identify promising students from…urban backgrounds using an alternative set of qualities as predictors of success in college. …The students that are selected form a ‘Posse’ and are provided with extra supports, and end up graduating from selective colleges with a very high success rate.”

3. After School Matters Annual Gala (9/2015)

There’s still time to attend the 2014 After School Matters Annual Gala or simply plan for 2015.

After School Matters organization

After School Matters® is a non-profit organization that offers Chicago high school teens innovative out-of-school activities.

4. Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund 25th Anniversary (10/25/14)

Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund

This event is just around the corner so find out more and buy tickets here.

5. Invest For Kids Conference (11/6/14)

Invest For Kids is a unique forum that brings together portfolio managers, family offices, private investors and analysts to learn about strategies and specific investment ideas from a leading group of investment managers.  Their Sixth Annual Event is coming up in a little over a month at Harris Theater. You can register now.

6. A Better Chicago Project Impact Awards (11/13/14)

Watch a video overview of the Project Impact, which is fascinating. Project Impact is a competition that harnesses the power of innovation to move the needle for those in need. Nonprofits across the country can use this prize to launch or grow their presence in the Chicago metropolitan area. We support this initiative and hope you will too. See who gets awarded this year on 11/13/2014.
7. KIPP Chicago Schools KIPP Talk (Spring 2015 )          KIPP Chicago

MIB has been a big supporter of KIPP for some time. We appreciate their mission;  To create a network of schools that empower students with the character and academic skills necessary to succeed in top-quality high schools and universities, to be happy in the competitive world, and to have a positive impact on their communities.

8. Chicago High School for the Arts Kerfuffle (5/2015)

Kerfuffle! is ChiArts’ annual fundraising event featuring performances and exhibitions by Scholar-Artists from the Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts conservatories at ChiArts . The evening will feature four “Arts Partner All-Stars” representing some of the 72 Chicago arts institutions that partner with ChiArts as well as a reception with a strolling Cabaret Dinner.

Please also take a look at the first in this series; Part 1; MIB 2013 Philanthropy Award Winners. 

Part 1; Best Annual MIB Supported Chicago Fundraisers

2013 MIB Philanthropy Awards

North Shore philanthropists use their love of big ideas, unique experiences, family fun, great home design, fashion, drop-dead glamour and ladies lunches to support a plethora of excellent causes. Over the next eight days, I’ll give you a sneak peak at Make It Better’s list of top annual fundraisers supported by our audience.  Of course, we’re starting with the annual events for the nonprofits who won our 2013 Philanthropy Awards.

See the full list of winners here. Please click on each organization to view their fantastic work and see the video we awarded each organization, within each links;

(Watch our Video of the 2013 MIB Philanthropy Awards Here)

If you are looking for a special experience tied to a good cause to support, we recommend any of them to you too. Stay tuned over for the next seven posts to cover fabulous NFP organizations in the following categories;

Service & Schools

Ladies Luncheons

Top25 Galas Supported by the North Shore

For Fashionistas

For Families

Art, Antiques & Home Decor

Fabulous Experience Auctions

Please subscribe to the blog to be sure you don’t miss this series. Thanks!