The Midwest Division of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) raised more than $510,000 at its 11th annual Blazing the Trail Benefit on Sept. 22. IICF hosted more than 350 attendees to celebrate the Midwest insurance industry’s commitment to philanthropy and honor the founders of the Chicago Apprentice Network. Proceeds of the benefit fund the IICF Midwest Community Grants Program.
The founders of the Chicago Apprentice Network – Accenture, Aon and Zurich – were honored for their work in helping raise awareness of apprenticeship opportunities and helping businesses establish apprentice programs. IICF is also working to develop the insurance industry talent pipeline by connecting nontraditional talent with apprenticeship and other career opportunities through the IICF Talent Hub, the foundation said.
“In the same collaborative spirit as IICF, the Chicago Apprentice Network works together to create career opportunities within the region and insurance industry,” said Al Crook, head of HR business partners and apprenticeship at Zurich North America. “Zurich has benefitted from this innovative and diverse talent pool and looks forward to expanding apprenticeship further in the years to come.”
Since 2017, the Chicago Apprentice Network has grown from its three founding companies to more than 75 companies across several industries.
“We’re honored to be recognized by IICF alongside our Chicago Apprentice Network co-founders for our collective efforts to grow apprenticeship programs,” said Kevin Johnson, North America chief operating officer at Aon. “The Aon apprenticeship program has brought many talented colleagues to our firm, helping us further build a resilient and diverse workforce. We look forward to continuing to work with employers, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations to encourage the development of apprenticeship programs that strengthen our workplaces and communities.”
The Blazing the Trail event also featured IICF Community Grant recipients By the Hand, a Chicago-based nonprofit serving children in under-resourced neighborhoods with after-school programming, and Intentional Sports, a community partner of By the Hand that is building a professional-level facility for sports, education and wellness to close the opportunity gap for westside youth in Chicago.
“IICF proudly supports nonprofit partners such as By the Hand by uniting the insurance industry in giving back to make a profound impact in the communities where we live and work,” said Jeff Kroeger, president of Insureron, a division of Specialty Program Group and Hub International, and chair of the IICF Midwest Division board of directors. “Vital funds are raised through the IICF Blazing the Trail, Oktoberfest and Rock for Charity and more, annual events that have become insurance industry traditions in the Midwest, allowing us to award meaningful grants to nonprofits serving the needs of our neighbors struggling with food and housing insecurity, and so many other challenges.”
Since its founding in 2011, IICF Midwest has awarded more than $4 million to more than 200 nonprofits. It is one of five divisions of IICF – four in the US and one in the UK. Since its inception in 1994, IICF has granted a total of $42 million globally.