About The Foundation

The Elijah Glenn Ward Family Foundation is a public charity established in 2011 that is dedicated to nourishing, strengthening and stabilizing Chicago communities by providing innovative educational and socioeconomic support to individuals facing social challenges. It develops educational, health, economic and cultural initiatives to champion and empower the men, women and children of low-income and minority communities on Chicago’s South Side.

The Ward Foundation was inspired by the Ward Family story and the heritage of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. The Foundation operates out of the Susan M. Sanders, R.S.M. Teaching and Learning Center located at 2150 S. Canalport in the Lacuna Artist Lofts building of Chicago’s Pilsen Art District. The Sanders Center opened in March 2017 and is home to four programs: Chicago P.R.I.D.E., the Adelaide F. Ward GED Program, the My Brother’s / Sister’s Keeper Mentoring Program, and Mercy Job Bank.

Ward Foundation and its collaborators are currently planning the development of Ward Institute of Technology (WIT) and later Ward College.

About the Wards

Glenn Ward, Jr. and Adelaide F. Ward have a long history of service as role models and educators in Chicago.

Adelaide James Ward (1923-2017) was born on the campus of what would become Bethune-Cookman College where her father, Leon James, was English professor and baseball coach and her mother, Nannie Stephens James, was a registered nurse at the college hospital. Adelaide grew up in Washington, D.C., received B.A. and M.A. degrees from Howard University, taught history at several historically Black colleges, was mentored by John Hope Franklin, and was editorial assistant to Rayford Logan, editor of the Journal of Negro History and the Negro History Bulletin. While teaching at Alabama State, she met and married Glenn, who was in Advanced Officers Training School at Fort Benning, Georgia. In Chicago, the Wards raised five children.

Adelaide taught English at Dunbar Vocational H.S. for 26 years while acquiring an M.A. in the Teaching of English at the University of Chicago. After 17 years as Chair of Dunbar’s English Department, she retired, later volunteering to tutor with the Delta Literacy Project and at nearby elementary schools.

Elijah Glenn Ward, Jr. was born in Halls, Tennessee, in 1924 to Elijah Ward, lumber dealer, and Birdie Howard, homemaker and seamstress. He grew up in Chicago and was drafted in the U.S. Army while a freshman at Prairie View College. Working on the medic team that received casualties from the English Channel on D-Day, his indelible memory is of legion airplanes and ships darkening sky and water as far as the eye could see, a life-changing witness to enormous human destruction.

After the War, he enrolled at Lane College, Jackson, Tennessee, to study flying. He had nurtured aspirations of becoming a doctor, lawyer or pilot. Making a family with Adelaide in Chicago, he switched gears to work at Prudential Insurance Company of America, also bringing motivational messages to students in elementary schools.