Investing in Our Communities

Why this needs our attention

Research has shown that Chicago has some of the greatest disparities in life expectancy between neighborhoods. The idea that your zip code can have as much to do with your health status as your genetic code is an unfortunate reality.

For example, in the Streeterville community where Lurie Children’s operates and which is close to the central business district of Chicago, the average life expectancy is 90 years old – the highest in Chicago. However, as you move out from the city center and into some of the city’s West and South side communities, the average life expectancy is 60-70 years old – the lowest in Chicago. This represents the largest life expectancy divide in the U.S.

This life expectancy gap is due to a number of factors including disinvestment in education, housing, local businesses, and a resulting lack of employment opportunities, which ultimately can be linked with poor health such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in adults and obesity, diabetes and heart disease in children.

What Lurie Children's is doing to address it

Anchor Mission

Recognizing the link between health and economic vitality, Lurie Children’s has adopted an “Anchor Mission” to more directly address neighborhood disinvestment. This effort drives us to set and achieve goals for hiring, procurement and investment in specific zip codes.

Key advisors and partners in this effort include West Side United, Chicago HEAL Initiative, Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy and the Healthcare Anchor Network.

Examples of Anchor Mission impact in 2019-2020 include:

Hiring Initiatives

  • Managed internship/mentorship programs for almost 200 students annually from more than 40 Chicago Public Schools to expose youth to a range of careers in healthcare.
  • Tracked hiring by zip code, and successfully recruited 275 individuals in 2019 from low/very low Child Opportunity Index neighborhoods
  • Held joint hiring fairs in West Side communities with West Side United hospitals.
  • Co-developed Career Pathways programs for entry-level employees to become medical assistants, health information technology professionals and nurses together with West Side United, Malcolm X College, and other hospitals.

Procurement / Supply Chain Initiatives

  • Tracked spending by zip code, spending $1.5 million in 2019 from vendors/suppliers located in low/very low Child Opportunity Index neighborhoods
  • Participated in Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy vendor fairs featuring businesses located in disinvested communities
  • In 2019-2020, invested $50,000 in West Side United small business grant pool. Leveraged these funds to attract other grant pool investors, bringing total funds to $500,000 in 2020. Followed-up with grantees to integrate them into hospital supply chain when appropriate.

Impact Investing Initiatives

  • In 2019-2020, invested $500,000 with local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to provide loans to advance nonprofit housing and community development projects. Together with West Side United, leveraged these funds to attract other investors, bringing total funds to $6 million in 2020.

Community Benefit Investment

As part of Lurie Children’s nonprofit mission to improve the health and well-being of youth, we are proud to be the State of Illinois’ most significant partner in providing healthcare services to youth insured by Medicaid. We invest significant funds to offset losses due to Medicaid reimbursements, research and education, support for our patient families and community programs.

FY 19 community benefit investment included:

  • Charity Care, losses due to Medicaid reimbursement below cost of services, and other uncompensated costs: $130.7 million
  • Resident and fellow training: $23.7 million
  • Language assistance services, pastoral care, social work, art and music therapies, volunteer services, transplant
  • patient family housing and other family support services: $8.6 million
  • Research funding, net of grants and philanthropic support: $11.7 million
  • Community clinic support: $3.3 million
  • Child advocacy programs: $3.8 million

Total cost of unreimbursed charity care and community benefit programs: $181.8 million


For more information about Lurie Children’s Anchor Mission Activities or community benefit investment, email us.