Case Studies

100 Club

In the 55 years since its founding, the 100 Club of Illinois has provided financial support to families and loved ones of first responders who lost their lives in the line of duty. Recently, it has extended additional financial and wellness support to active-duty first responders, allowing the organization to honor and uplift more heroes and their families.

Methods

The 100 Club of Illinois jumps into action the moment it hears that a first responder has died in the line of duty, sending representatives to hospitals or homes to comfort and guide family members through immediate issues, such
as funeral planning or unpaid bills. Over the longer term, the 100 Club also provides bereaved families with a total of $50,000 to cover expenses and pay down debt. And through the 100 Club of Illinois Educational Assistance Program, children and other dependents of fallen first responders receive financial assistance for their undergraduate, vocational, or graduate education. All told, the organization has committed more than $15 million to assist family members who will be enrolled in school over the next 24 years. “We’re with these families forever,” says CEO Caitlyn Brennan. “I go to graduations and weddings; I meet new grandchildren. We first get to know families at a point of tragedy, but we’re there to see them grow through it.”
In response to increased calls for assistance, the 100 Club expanded its programming in March 2021 to support active-duty first responders as well. It now offers mental-health and trauma counseling, peer support, critical-incident debriefs, and other services to promote wellness and resiliency among first responders and their families. It also provides emergency financial assistance to active-duty first-responder families in case of injury, adverse circumstances, or other hardships.

Impact

Throughout its history, the 100 Club of Illinois has provided more than $13 million in assistance to 298 families of fallen first responders, including 28 in the past two years alone. In March 2020, the organization expanded its reach from Chicago and its surrounding counties to the entire state of Illinois, responding to a never-before-seen increase in tragic incidents and requests for assistance. Only weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, making this expansion even more timely. “Throughout this difficult year, our first responders stayed out there helping,” says Brennan. “It’s an honor for us to help them in return."

How The Satter Foundation Has Helped

The work of the 100 Club of Illinois is never finished, so the Satter Foundation strives to provide reliable, year-after-year support to help enable the organization to apply its expertise to serve families in need and to roll out new programming, such as the active-duty support services it began this past year. 

What's Next

Illinois is home to 80,000 first responders—which means that despite its significant expansion in geography and programming, much work remains for the 100 Club of Illinois to fully meet the needs of this large community. The organization has engaged numerous on-the-ground partners to expand its resilience and wellness initiatives statewide, and it is using the lessons it learns to evolve its services and approaches over time. “There are so many obstacles for our first responders in this moment,” says Brennan. “We’re determined to do what it takes to support them, so that they can continue to show up for their communities every day.”

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