Business for a Better World: Ada S. McKinley Community Services

Ada S. McKinley Community Services

Annual revenue: Approximately $50,000,000

Number of employees: 550 plus

An interview with Jamal Malone, Chief Executive Officer, Ada S. McKinley Community Services

Q: Describe your company / organization.

A: Ada S. McKinley Community Services is one of the largest social enterprises providing a wide range of human services in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. Our mission is to empower, educate and employ people to change lives and strengthen communities.

The social enterprise serves 7,000-plus people each year at 70-plus program sites. Ada S. McKinley services include: early child development, foster care, college placement, employment preparation and placement, housing, facilities management, mental health and community support services for people with disabilities.

Our facility management employment program specifically trains, places and employs veterans and people with disabilities for a wide variety of business and government customers. McKinley contracts with government and military installations to service more than 125 buildings throughout Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.

Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant investments in your company / organization in the next year?

A: We have grown our programs by a number of contracts and staff across several programs including education, mental health, child-welfare and employment services. This growth is expected to continue into next year. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused managers of government buildings to place an even higher priority on clean and sanitary environments for employees and visitors.

Q: What will your main challenges be in the next year?

A: Expectations for cleaning standards have increased over the last few years, with custodial services facing more contract performance scrutiny and demands for higher quality and consistency. At the same time, cleaning services across the country are having trouble staffing jobs and meeting quality performance expectations.

Building managers and contract officers frequently look for "one-touch service" through partnerships and subcontractor arrangements. These services include seasonal, periodic or recurring subcontract work for infrequent activities - like exterior window washing, pest control, flood remediation, floor maintenance, grounds upkeep, spring cleanup and snow removal.

Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?

A: Prevention of infectious diseases continues to be a hot-button issue. Another trend is utilizing data driven decisions and technology to improve services and efficiencies, as well as using green products.

Q: Does climate change affect how your company does business?

A: Like anyone concerned about the future of our planet, we are doing our part to help protect the environment. We use green products that contribute toward a healthier and environmentally responsible workplace.

Q: What does your company do to reduce the effects of climate change?

A: We achieved the highly regarded Cleaning Industry Management Standard Certification and Green Building Criteria from Illinois Sanitary Supply Association. By adhering to the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act, we guarantee that we are following federal mandates in conserving energy and resources, purchasing recycled content, reducing the total amount of waste and managing waste in a sound manner.

Q: Is your company minority-owned or minority-focussed? Woman-owned or focused? If so, what are the challenges you face?

A: Ada S. McKinley Community Services is an African-American-led social enterprise that has diverse staff, leadership and board of directors. See our staff and board members here at

Q: What does your organization do regarding DE&I (diversity, equity & inclusion)?

A: Our board, staff and leadership diversity is reflective of the community that we serve. Our facilities management employment program, where we employ people with disabilities, is committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive workforce and guarantees that 75% of the direct labor hours are worked by people with disabilities.

Q: Does your company donate time or money to any philanthropic causes?

A: We are a not-for-profit human service organization based in Chicago that also serves Indiana and Wisconsin. Many of the communities we serve are under-resourced and benefit from our investments in neighborhoods and people.

Q: Please describe what your company / organization does to make your community better?

A: Over the last year, our Head Start & Early Learning program enrolled over 350 children from under-resourced communities in high quality programs - the majority of students exceeded school readiness level after one year. We hosted "From the Classroom to the Boardroom," mentoring young Black men in Chicago Public Schools. Our agency helped place and stabilize 430+ families with DCFS involvement. We launched a food pantry feeding 250 South Side families after two major grocery closures.

We also helped deliver 1,200 Christmas trees to families across Chicago. Ada's Mental Health Crisis Response team responded to 4,000 calls and deflected 70% away from police arrest or emergency room hospitalization. Historically we have helped place over 75,000 students in college and last year we helped students obtain $11.3 million in scholarships.

Q: What do you do to make your business / organization a good place to work for your employees?

A: Ada has a family environment whose culture is based on the "One Ada" concept. Our culture focuses on Teamwork, Innovation and Excellence or T.I.E. - the thing that TIEs us together.

Q: Do you have a company mantra?

A: Our mission is to empower, educate and employ people to change lives and strengthen communities.

Q: What is one interesting fact about your company / organization that most people may not know?

A: Our founder, Ada Sophia McKinley, is an unsung heroine and human services pioneer that was largely ignored by the media and historians due to her race. A champion for racial justice, she marched in the streets of Chicago following the 1919 race riots and helped form the Chicago Commission on Race Relations in an effort to restore order to the city.

She used her own money to found our organization 103 years ago, and her work impacts tens - if not hundreds - of thousands of people each year. For more information, please visit

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