Chicago Furniture Bank Founder on Young Global Leadership

By Andrew Witherspoon, 2019 Luce 24 Under 24 Award Recipient

Chicago, IL.  Young global leadership is critical today because younger generations not only have the most at stake, but also have a great platform spawned by technology. My personal call to action stems from my upbringing and awareness of the world.

Andrew Witherspoon

My parents instilled in me at a young age the belief that everyone deserves a second chance. Regardless of circumstance or wealth everyone should be entitled to the same opportunities to succeed. I realized that, due to the unique advantages I have received growing up, I was presented with the opportunity to give back and be an agent of change in my community. This consciousness drove me to create the Chicago Furniture Bank with my classmates, James McPhail and Griffin Amdur, and taught me the importance of young leadership.

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I passionately believe that the younger generations have the most at stake and the strongest call to action. The most obvious examples of problems that directly affect young generations are global climate change and rising sea levels, global immigration, and equality in the workforce. The world stands at an important crossroads in history on these issues and for the benefit of the world, action and leadership needs to be taken. There is no better time than now for young people to take action. 

The status quo is a dangerous phenomenon that often prevents change. I and my generation have relatively limited exposure to the pressures to conform and fall in to line. As a result, we continue to push boundaries and replace these standards with our own values. This simple fact is one of the reasons why young leadership is so critical today.

This is something that my partners and I are extremely conscious of, and we work diligently to collaborate with our non- profit peers to implement changes instead of getting comfortable. Just because something appears to be going smoothly does not mean that it cannot be improved. This not only applies to business, but the whole world. Many issues need outsiders with a fresh perspective to think of new, practical solutions. 

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Providing a fresh energized perspective to help solve these issues is what we can do. Every day young adults are achieving new heights in every aspect of their lives. Breaking molds set by society is not only personally satisfying but also helps to transform society for the better. Anything worth achieving was once considered impossible until someone did it. We cannot be discouraged by how big our dreams are, especially when they challenge the norm.

This does not only apply to my peers who have chosen public service but also careers that are not associated with change like corporate finance. Regardless of one’s chosen profession we owe it to ourselves to challenge the norm to continue moving forward and address issues that are sincere to ourselves. Societies respect and show willingness to follow young leaders throughout the world. 

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Young adults have grown up with the technological tools to amplify their message and connect with people. These innovations penetrate global barriers reach every generation regardless of political affiliation. Social media is an amazing tool that can best be described as a double-edged sword. If used correctly it can bring awareness to issues and spur action.

Our generation has the passion, will, and tools to enact critical and meaningful change throughout the world today. I personally have seen the importance of technology/ social media and societies openness to listen to young leaders every day at our organization. 

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My work with the Chicago Furniture Bank highlights the importance of young leaders and the importance of technology. As recent college graduates, my partners and I saw just how many people in Chicago needed a way to get affordable furniture. We converse with presidents and executive directors many years our senior in order to reach as many people as possible.

Now, like any new organization or business, we have certainly encountered a number of obstacles but have been able to overcome these and have grown stronger. Our peers have welcomed us into the non-profit realm with open arms. This, in part, because they understand that we share the same goal: to help individuals and families in need.

Furthermore, we use social media and technology in order to raise awareness for our organization and reach people in need. Social media has allowed us to increase our support base, keep our followers up to date, and easily distribute updates and news to every stakeholder. In less than one year we have furnished over 800 homes for over 2000 people and helped repurpose over 400 tons of furniture. This is an amazing accomplishment because our original goal was to furnish 400 homes in our first year.

We have shown that regardless of how many years of experience you have, you can create something as a young adult that will have a meaningful impact on the world we live in. The time is now for young people to take action and continue to push boundaries! 

Andrew Witherspoon (U.S.)
Chicago - 600 - B
A graduate from The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Andrew is the co-founder and co-executive director of the Chicago Furniture Bank that recycled and redistributed used furniture to individuals and families in need. Andrew realized that he was presented with the opportunity to give back and be an agent of change in his own community. He believes regardless how many years of experience one has, a person can create something as a young adult that will have a meaningful impact on the world we live in.

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Ticket Reservations
Ticket(s) in advance are available at $48 each, tax-deductible and may be paid online via: http://tiny.cc/SummerSoiree2019 (or TEXT “Luce24” to 91999). Checks payable to The J. Luce Foundation may be sent to 540 Main St. #418, New York, N.Y. 10044. If you are unable to attend, please consider donating a ticket to sponsor one of our Young Global Leaders.

About The J. Luce Foundation
The Mission of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation, Inc. (www.LuceFoundation.org) is to support young global leadership impacting positive social change, particularly in the fields of the Arts, Education and Orphan Care. Related charities include Orphans International Worldwide (OIW) and The New York Global Leaders Lions Club, both founded by Jim Luce, born July 24, 1959. 

See:
 July 24th, J. Luce Foundations 20th Annual Summer Soirée (7/19)
‘Luce 24 Under 24’ Summer Soirée Set for July 24 at the China Institute (6/19)
J. Luce Foundation Announces First ‘Luce 24 Under 24’ Awards (5/19)
J. Luce Leadership Team Lauded by Forbes, Gates, Ford Foundation (9/18)

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The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org). There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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