IKEA - USA

Life Improvement Challenge

The Life Improvement Challenge
At IKEA, we want to play our part in creating a better life for the people and communities touched by our business. While we work on a global level to improve the lives of people in developing countries, we also want to be a good neighbor in our local communities. The Life Improvement Co-worker Challenge is one way we're making a difference closer to home.

The Challenge gives IKEA US co-workers the opportunity to nominate a local charity to win an IKEA makeover of a space that helps to improve the lives of others in the local community. Co-workers and customers vote for their favorite charity, and the winner receives an IKEA makeover to help them in the important work they do to improve the lives of others in the local community.

Through the Life Improvement Challenge, we have:
• Helped refresh residential cottages for mentally ill, abused, or traumatized foster children in Centennial, CO.
• Furnished the office and communal space dedicated to education, recreation and growth for children and adults with disabilities in Draper, UT.
• Renovated the area where deaf children learn auditory skills in Houston, TX.
• Furnished the computer lab to a more modern and streamlined room where the youth can engage in productive activities, like homework in San Diego.

This year, 120 charities across the US received either a full IKEA makeover or smaller product donations as a result of this year’s IKEA Life Improvement Challenge. Since 2011, more than 200 local charities have received over $1.7 million in IKEA products, design expertise and manpower. Click here to view the 2016 Life Improvement Challenge submissions and winners. Learn more about how we're making a difference closer to home.
IKEA Long Island, NY partnered with the YES Community Center – an organization that increases awareness about personal and community issues, prevents and treats substance abuse, and promotes healthy families and a safe community. YES provides comprehensive evidence based support, prevention and treatment services to children, families and adults in central and southeastern Nassau County. Helping their community members to navigate challenging times, the agency offers services related to drug and alcohol use and addition, child abuse and domestic violence, divorce, death, suicide, self-esteem and many other issues. The makeover renovated the kitchen to make it more functional and efficient, allowing the center to better serve the students that participate in their programs.
Life Improvement Challenge
2016
In 2016, all 41 U.S. retail locations and 2 offices were given the opportunity to complete a project for a non-profit organization in their local community. Co-workers across the country nominated local charities to receive an IKEA makeover. Then, IKEA co-workers and customers voted for their favorite projects, and a total of 43 IKEA makeovers were completed. Here are a few examples of the projects our stores partnered with to help improve the lives of others in the local community:
IKEA College Park partnered with the Latin American Youth Center - an organization that empowers a diverse population of youth to achieve a successful transition to adulthood through multi-cultural, comprehensive, and innovative programs that address youths’ social, academic, and career needs.

IKEA co-workers transformed the Latin American Youth Center by furnishing the area that provides emergency services to homeless youth, known as the Drop-In, and made it a more functional and welcoming space.
IKEA Contact Center partnered with East Side Emergency Family Shelter (CAN) - an organization that’s purpose is to provide a safe, clean and supportive community to help stabilize individuals experiencing homelessness in Baltimore County.

IKEA provided new furniture and storage for the mobile classroom used to teach residents basic life skills. For example, how to pay bills, balance a checkbook, fill out applications, etc. IKEA also equipped the family room area of the portable building to make it look and feel more like a home for the families while they are living at the shelter. These improvements help them feel more professional and that they matter to society.
IKEA Woodbridge, VA partnered with Transitional Housing BARN, Inc. – and organization committed to providing families with transitional housing and access to supportive services to promote healing, growth and self-sufficiency. The makeover renovated bedrooms to give families more storage to store clothes, and desks to provide a safe space for homework and job searching.
IKEA College Park, MD & Latin American Youth Center (LAYC)
IKEA Contact Center, PA & East Side Emergency Family Shelter (CAN)
IKEA Woodbridge, VA & Transitional Housing BARN, Inc.
IKEA Long Island, NY & YES Community Center
IKEA College Park, MD & Latin American Youth Center (LAYC)IKEA Contact Center, PA & East Side Emergency Family Shelter (CAN)IKEA Contact Center, PA & East Side Emergency Family Shelter (CAN)IKEA College Park, MD & Latin American Youth Center (LAYC)IKEA Woodbridge, VA & Transitional Housing BARN, Inc. IKEA Woodbridge, VA & Transitional Housing BARN, Inc. IKEA Woodbridge, VA & Transitional Housing BARN, Inc. IKEA Woodbridge, VA & Transitional Housing BARN, Inc. IKEA Long Island, NY & YES Community CenterIKEA Long Island, NY & YES Community CenterIKEA Long Island, NY & YES Community CenterIKEA Long Island, NY & YES Community Center
Before and After Kitchen Area’s
Before and After of the Homework/Job Searching Area
Before and After of the Clothing Storage Area
Family Room Area Before & After
Drop-In Room Before & After
PRIOR PROJECTS: 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015
Life Improvement Challenge
2015
In 2015, all U.S. retail locations were given the opportunity to complete a project for a non-profit organization in their local community. Co-workers across the country nominated 102 local charities to receive an IKEA makeover. Then, IKEA co-workers and customers voted for their favorite projects, and a total of 42 IKEA makeovers were completed. Here are a few examples of the projects our stores completed to help improve the lives of others in the local community:
IKEA west chester life improvement challenge makeover donationIKEA Centennial life improvement challenge charity makeoverIKEA Seattle life improvement challenge charity makeover
IKEA Centennial worked with FRIENDS of Broomfield- an organization that creates opportunities for teens and adults with developmental disabilities through innovative and person-centered supports to help transition these individuals to a lifestyle of independence.

IKEA co-workers transformed the FRIENDS of Broomfield’s Sensory Room, Personal Care Area and Lounge by adding new furnishings and implementing new storage solutions. Additionally, IKEA co-workers updated seating and window treatments in the sensory room to create a comforting and quiet space for when participants feel over-stimulated.
IKEA Seattle partnered with Peace for the Street by Kids from the Streets (PSKS) - an organization that empowers homeless and at-risk youth and young adults to lead positive and self-sufficient lives. The PSKS philosophy and practice of inclusion allows them to develop low access barriers to engage young people who are at risk of falling through gaps in community services.

With the help of a team of dedicated IKEA co-workers, PSKS received a makeover of their kitchen. IKEA co-workers implemented organizational solutions and refreshed the cabinets, flooring and appliances to create a modern and inviting space for youth to enjoy weekly lunches and gather with friends.
IKEA West Chester helped Lighthouse Youth Services - an organization dedicated to advancing the dignity and well-being of children, youth and families in need. The Lighthouse Youth Services needed updates to their life skills training center. This center supports youth ages 16-24 who are emancipating from the foster care system or who are experiencing homelessness and preparing to live independently. IKEA co-workers tackled the center’s home furnishing challenges by renovating the kitchen.

Before and after
To fill the gap between cabinets, we used the FLYTTA cart, which not only helps with organization and storage, but also becomes a moveable work space. This allows the kids to roll it out and use it during a cooking lesson. We also hung GRUNDTAL stainless steel shelving in the corner to allow for more storage of pots, pans, and other cooking utensils. Updated appliances make preparing and cooking food a better and easier experience for the teachers and kids.

On the other side of the kitchen, the DOCKSTA table provides extra work space, but also lets the kids sit down and enjoy the meals that they have learned to prepare and cook. The VARDE shelving unit above it provides additional open storage space for coffee mugs and recipe books so that the kids can learn new recipes to cook. Extra chairs hang up on the wall behind the curtain so that the Lighthouse Youth Center teachers can accommodate larger groups at one time.
IKEA Centennial, CO & FRIENDS of Broomfield
IKEA Seattle, WA & Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets
IKEA West Chester, OH & Lighthouse Youth Services
IKEA Seattle & PSKS before
IKEA Seattle & PSKS after
PRIOR PROJECTS: 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014
Life Improvement Challenge
2014
In 2014, all U.S. retail locations were given the opportunity to complete a project for a non-profit organization in their local community. Co-workers across the country nominated 85 local charities to receive an IKEA makeover. Then, IKEA co-workers and customers voted for their favorite projects, and a total of 39 projects were completed. Here are a few of the projects our stores completed to help improve the lives of others in the local community:
IKEA Tampa, FL worked with PACE Center for Girls, a non-residential center for women ages 12-18, provides an opportunity for a better future through education, counseling, training, and advocacy. PACE works with the homeless, human trafficking, runaways, sexual abuse, drug abuse, and teen pregnancy. IKEA co-workers built, assembled, and installed new furniture for three days and refreshed PACE’s Points Store, Dress for Success Closet, and Great Room. The project team hopes these updates will provide solace and greater learning potential for participants.
IKEA Elizabeth, NJ (pictured right) worked with Raphael's Life House - a transitional residence for women who are homeless and pregnant. Here they can find a place to rebuild their lives and give their children a positive start in life. IKEA refurnished and redecorated the Common Room and the Safe Play Zone, creating a safe, comfortable environment for the mothers and babies to begin their new lives as a family.
IKEA Stoughton, MA helped The Cambridge Community Center remodel five after-school classrooms. The Cambridge Community Center promotes community cooperation and unity by empowering youth, individuals, and families through social, cultural, educational, and recreational activities. All of the center’s classrooms are located in the basement, and therefore, very little natural light can enter the space. And, there was barely any storage for the materials used in these rooms. With new storage solutions, and fresh touchups to the rooms’ furnishings, the Cambridge Community Center can welcome and help even more kids and families into its home.
IKEA Tempe, AZ (pictured right) worked with Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development to provide effective storage and coordinated workstation furniture for their volunteers and interns. Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development provides a safe space for youth and young adults vulnerable to or experiencing homelessness. It allows access to caring relationships, resources, and programs that help young people develop their individual potential. Before the makeover, Tumbleweed felt they did not have the room to expand their staff, when needed. But with the help of IKEA Tempe, they created a welcoming, organized, modern environment for the youth to meet with case managers.
IKEA coworkers and volunteers
IKEA Elizabeth, NJ
IKEA Tempe - Before
IKEA Tempe - After
IKEA Tempe - Before
IKEA Tempe - After
PRIOR PROJECTS: 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015
Life Improvement Challenge
2013
Once again in 2013, all retail locations were given the opportunity to complete a project for a non-profit in their local community. Co-workers across the US submitted 82 local charities to receive an IKEA makeover. IKEA co-workers and customers once again voted for their favorite projects, and a total to 39 projects were completed.
• IKEA Charlotte, NC partnered with Victory Junction, which enriches the lives of children with serious illnesses by providing life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun and empowering, at no cost to children or their families. The camp counselors living quarters received the makeover and a new refrigerator for the kids’ medications, linens, and light bulbs were also donated.
• IKEA Round Rock, TX (pictured below) redesigned the conference room at Any Baby Can – an organization serving families with children facing serious health or developmental challenges - providing an inspirational space for community classes and meetings. They also created a new childcare area that allows staff to engage and teach children while their parents are taking classes.
• IKEA Stoughton, MA refurnished living spaces at DOVE (Domestic Violence Ended), an organization that is committed to partnering with diverse communities, families, and individuals impacted by domestic violence. IKEA Stoughton co-workers made welcoming, safe places for residents to get the help they need to recover from domestic violence.
IKEA Conshohocken coworker
IKEA Conshohocken, PA (above) provided home furnishings for the office and farming apprentice residence at Pennypack Farm and Education Center (PFEC). PFEC works with children, families, community groups, environmental, and educational institutions to encourage awareness and the creation of sustainable local food systems by offering educational programs and a community supported agriculture demonstration project.
Play area before
Round Rock, TX: Before
Play area after
Round Rock, TX: After
Round Rock putting together bookcase
Volunteers putting together bookcase
Round Rock Kids in Play Room
Round Rock Kids in Play Room
PRIOR PROJECTS: 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015
Life Improvement Challenge
2012
In 2012, all retail locations were given an opportunity to complete a project for a non-profit in their community. Co-workers really rose to the challenge and submitted 84 local charities to receive an IKEA makeover. That year both IKEA co-workers and customers voted for their favorite projects and by year’s end a total of 37 projects were completed. Here are just a few of them:
• IKEA Long Island, NY completed a makeover with the Family and Children’s Association, providing homeless youth and foster children in shelter with a new kitchen and remodeled bedrooms.
• IKEA Carson, CA with the Department of Children and Family Services Long Beach, remodeling the children’s waiting room to create a welcoming and comfortable environment for the young kids.
• IKEA Bloomington, MN (pictured below) completed a makeover at The Bridge for Youth, a non-profit organizations dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming place for homeless youth ages 10-17 in the Twin Cities who have no one to turn to, and nowhere to go.
IKEA coworkers and volunteers
IKEA Dallas, TX (above) donated IKEA Family backpacks and school supplies to Frisco Family Services who provide back-to-school packages to students whose parents are struggling financially.
IKEA Bloomington Dining room before
IKEA Bloomington Before
IKEA Bloomington Dining room after
IKEA Bloomington After
Round Rock putting together bookcase
IKEA Bloomington Before
IKEA Bloomington After
IKEA Bloomington After
PRIOR PROJECTS: 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015
Life Improvement Challenge
2011
The Life Improvement Challenge began in 2011 with 61 submissions of local charitable projects from IKEA co-workers. That year, four stores had the opportunity to win a budget to complete a project in the local community. In the first year, only IKEA co-workers voted for their favorite projects, and winning stores were:
• IKEA Draper, UT remodeled the Children’s Playroom and the lounge area for The Road Home homeless shelter.
• IKEA Orlando, FL gave their winning charity, Parramore Kidz Zone (PKZ), newly furnished study rooms, a reading area, work areas, and a place for the kids to hang-out with friends. PKZ aims to reduce juvenile crime, teen pregnancy, and high school drop-out rates in Orlando's highest poverty, highest crime neighborhood.
• IKEA New Haven, CT revitalized Life Haven (pictured right), which is a shelter for homeless pregnant women and women with young children. They redesigned their key common areas: the dining room, the computer lab and library, and their donation storage area.
• IKEA Costa Mesa, CA completed a project with the Santa Ana Volunteer Youth service club to help students with low-income families. They donated IKEA spring mattresses, pillows and sheets, plus a desk along with a desk chair to 21 students.
IKEA coworkers and volunteers
IKEA New Haven at the ribbon cutting for their project at Life Haven.
Dining room before
Before
Dining room after
After
Before
Before
After
After
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