Ounce Annual Luncheon Raises Record-Breaking $1.3 million for Early Childhood Programs

The Ounce Annual Luncheon 2019

On Wednesday, April 10, Ounce Board Chair Curt Bailey welcomed more than 850 Chicagoland business, civic and philanthropic leaders to the 2019 Ounce Annual Luncheon in support of the Ounce of Prevention Fund’s mission to “provide the highest quality care and education to at-risk children from birth to age five.”

“Having the opportunity to learn, live safely and form healthy relationships in supportive homes and in communities should be an ordinary part of every child’s life,” said Ounce President Diana Rauner. “The reality, however, is that for families living with persistent poverty, extraordinary efforts are required to make the ordinary possible.”

For example, in collaboration with parents and educators, the Ounce addresses those extraordinary measures by providing world-class early childhood education through Educare Chicago, a birth-to-five school on Chicago’s South Side. Luncheon attendees saw Educare’s impact during the screening of a trailer for Tomorrow’s Hope, a new documentary following three of the school’s first graduates. One graduate—19-year-old Jamal Poindexter—addressed the audience following the screening to share his own story.

Keynote speaker, playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith energized the crowd with her own creative message, performing selections from her award-winning one woman show, Notes from the Field. Connecting her experiences interviewing educators and anti-poverty activists back to the Ounce’s work, she stressed that, “an ounce of prevention beats a pound of intervention.”

Luncheon Chair Tom Gimbel led the charge to inspire the crowd to be part of preventative solutions, illustrating how even the smallest gifts can make a difference in the lives of educators, at-risk children and families. His passion for early childhood education and the Ounce’s work was infectious. Together, guests at the luncheon raised $75,000 in less than an hour, and a total of $1.3 million overall.

During his fundraising challenge, Gimbel said, “It’s up to us to make sure everyone, every child has those same opportunities to reach their full potential.”