The 100% Project

In 2015, we began a series of conversations with Chicagoans from every walk of life—women and men, young and old, more than 500 in all.

We wanted to know two things:

“What are the big issues for women and girls right here, right now, every day?” And, “What should we all be doing about it, right now?”

The 100% Project is the result.

It’s an all-out, all-in, coordinated effort to increase women’s economic security and put an end to gender bias in metropolitan Chicago within a generation.




The big idea at the heart of The 100% Project is multi- and cross-sector engagement. The project is not a to-do list; it’s an invitation for individuals and institutions to take responsibility for the goals, think creatively and collaboratively about how to achieve them, and get to work.

Below are just a few of the ideas that emerged from the first round of public discussions and research on The 100% Project. They fall into three broad strategic categories.

Increase awareness—We can’t eliminate what we don’t know is there.

  • What do you really think? An online bias test from Harvard.
  • Salons to Solve. Focused conversations between and among women, men, girls, and boys.
  • Male Champions of Change. Leaders in the public and private sectors learning about—and acting on—the issues.
  • Talk It Out: March 8-15, 2019. A citywide, week-long series of conversations in schools, churches, and boardrooms designed to spark creative problem-solving and participation.
  • Workplace bias training. Ongoing onsite trainings at businesses throughout the metropolitan area.

Find common ground and collaborate—Sharing our strengths will maximize our resources and our reach.

  • Bridge the gap. Engage with a broader audience; include multiple perspectives.
  • Make the connection. Gender bias is part of a web that includes racial and social biases; build alliances to explore the intersections.
  • Use the gender lens. Look for opportunities to work on the unique challenges that women and girls face.
  • Mentor outside the box. Mentorships are powerful. To eliminate bias, connect like with unlike.
  • Start in school. Bias is rooted in custom and practice, not knowledge. Equip young people with the skills they need to build healthy, productive lives and relationships.

Build, scale, and advance policies and programs that support gender equity—Our systems must support change.

  • Build financial assets. Increase women and girls’ access to savings, financial products, and asset building programs.
  • Enforce the Illinois Equal Pay Act. Clarify language, close loopholes, and increase the law’s impact.
  • Introduce and pass a Women’s Equity Act. Ensure that the public’s belief in fair treatment across the board is reflected in the law.
  • Make wages and benefits transparent. When wages and benefits are public knowledge, bias is harder to hide.
  • Institute parental leave. Make it mandatory for both parents throughout the public and private sector.

Add your ideas

Contribute your ideas to The 100% Project. Share your thoughts about what we can do to increase women’s economic security and end gender bias by 2030.



    CFW commits to leading, connecting, and supporting individuals and institutions working to achieve the goals of The 100% Project.

    Chicago Foundation for Women will:

    1. Bring together partners—including CFW grantees, philanthropic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and special interest networks—to refine and expand project strategies and accomplish project goals.
    2. Align our grant making portfolio with project objectives.
    3. Lead an effort to consistently and concurrently apply a racial and gender justice lens to foundation-based philanthropy in metropolitan Chicago.
    4. Issue an annual, public report of the city’s progress on project goals.


    100% Collaboration

    The 100% Project doesn’t “belong” exclusively to CFW. For this to work, it’s got to be an ongoing, expanding collaboration among partners in every sector of our community.

    Collective effort leads to bigger impact on complex issues. And it helps develop strategies that address those issues from every angle—legislative, civic, professional, and personal— and every perspective.


    There’s room—and work—for everyone. Contact

    Interested in signing on as a Male Champion of Change?
    Contact Emily Dreke at

    Current Partners

    City of Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel
    The Chicago Network
    Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health
    Women Employed
    EverThrive Illinois

    Mujeres Latinas en Acción
    Rape Victim Advocates
    Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
    The Cara Program


    100% Effort

    You don’t have to set aside the issues you already care about—whether it’s school improvement or industrial development.

    Just learn how gender bias intersects with those issues, and then do what you can to address both.

    100% Participation

    Economic security for women and girls and freedom from gender bias aren’t “women’s issues.” They’re issues of basic fairness, and fairness depends on everyone.

    Boys and girls, women and men, individual companies and corporations, foundations, faith leaders, government: everyone has a way to step up and do their part.



    100% Success

    The goals of the 100% Project are big, we know. But “big” doesn’t mean impossible.

    And tackling big goals has one big advantage.

    When we succeed, it won’t just be a win for 51.5 percent of the people who live and work in Chicago.

    It will be a win for us all.

    What will winning look like?

    For starters, about $320,000 to $850,000 more in lifetime earnings for the average working woman—and her family.


    What happens when you decide to take a cherished ideal—fairness—and make it real? When access to opportunity in Chicago is linked—from birth onward—to talent, ability, aptitude, and energy, not genes?

    We think that it will change everything, from our private conversations to our children’s aspirations to our public institutions. And it will certainly change the world of work.

    For men and women both, hiring, pay, and promotion will be related to skills, job duties, and performance—and you’ll be able to verify that it is, because a company’s hiring practices, compensation plans, and appraisal criteria will be available for anyone to see.

    There’ll be more competition, but it will be on a level playing field.

    If you’re a woman, getting equal pay for the job you’ve already got will mean an extra $320,000 to $850,000 over the course of your working life.

    That’s a nicer place to live. A reliable car (or two). Higher education for your children, if you have them, or for yourself or your partner. Short-term savings and a nice-sized nest egg. Greater financial independence, and with it, the ability to shape your life circumstances instead of having to accept them.

    And when you retire, those higher lifetime earnings will mean higher retirement benefits, too—up to 70 percent higher.

    No matter what your gender, if you’re part of the local economy—that is, if you earn, invest, shop, sell, trade, or rely on public goods or services like roads, libraries, or parks—the effects will be just as big.

    Paid employment rates will go up, and so will GDP—by as much as 2.9 to 4 percent.

    Spending on subsidized housing, medical care, nutritional assistance, and other “safety net” programs that serve roughly half of Chicago’s working poor—who make up a whopping 31.2 percent of all employees aged 18 to 64 in Chicago—will go down.

    Government will collect more income and sales tax—roughly $15,000,000 more from working women in metropolitan Chicago alone —and businesses will sell more goods and services, so there will be more money to improve everything from schools to public transportation and more reasons to create more jobs.

    So, what’s in The 100% Project for you?

    A better life, and not just for you but for your whole family, right now and for the future.


    Be 1 of the 100%

    When everyone is in, everyone wins.