Relief Fund for Laid-Off iO Chicago Staff

UPDATE (4/28): JCMS has had continued issues with receiving funds from this fundraiser via PayPal Giving, the payment affiliate of GoFundMe for 501c3 Charities. If you donated, you may receive an email to either reallocate your funds or for a refund of your donation. If you would like for your donation to go towards iO Staff/a new theater space (as mentioned in the GoFundMe) please donate to The James Conklin Memorial Scholarship directly through Venmo or our direct PayPal. Our Venmo is @JCMS2020 and our PayPal link can be found on our website You can also follow this link: We will still be doing a second round of relief to the iO Staff and making donations to a new theater space regardless of donations being reallocated or refunded. It would be a huge help if you could get your donation refunded and re-donate to us directly but we understand if you are unable to do so at this time. Additionally, here is a link to an article explaining some of the issues we encountered with PayPal Giving:

UPDATE: THANK YOU to all who donated to our GoFundMe! We are experiencing an issue with PayPal on getting the funds from this GoFundMe. You may have received an email in error stating that they were unable to get ahold of us and award our 501c3 with the money raised from this fundraiser. We are currently addressing this issue with PayPal. Please reach out to [email redacted] with any questions or concerns! We have already awarded a majority of the money raised from this fundraiser out of our scholarship account to the employees of iO about 7-8 months ago. Regardless of the issue with PayPal, we are still committed to awarding the remainder of funds raised from this GoFundMe in an additional round of stipends to iO employees and the money iO employees deferred to donate to a new theater space. Thank you for your patience and understanding with this confusion and do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns! We will be updating as we find out new information and as we work with our lawyers.

With the recent closing of iO Chicago, nearly 75 workers in the Chicago comedy community are now without jobs during a time that COVID unemployment benefits may end ending. To help them through this difficult time, the James Conklin Memorial Scholarship is hoping to raise enough money to get these staff members back on their feet and ready for their next endeavor.

So many people go into making a strong community and the box office staff, bar staff, servers, hosts, techs, house managers, musical directors, kitchen staff, and janitorial staff at iO have been the foundation for that community. Please help us to build a strong foundation for them moving forward.

Our goal is to award each hourly staff member with $800. JCMS will be donating the first $4,000. JCMS will be working with Steve Plock (iO’s former operations manager) to ensure that these funds reach laid-off IO employees.

In the event that an individual declines their award, we will use their portion to donate to a new, upcoming theater space In Chicago or to award other community members who are in need via a third round of the JCMS relief fund initiative. This policy has been discussed with former iO employees and they are aware of this option. No matter what, your donation will be going to support members of our community and to grow future opportunities for employment and performance.

JCMS has been funding the education of iO summer intensive scholarship recipients for three years now. We chose to send recipients through this program because James went through iO’s summer intensive program when he first moved to Chicago. James was also an employee at iO. To honor his legacy and to commemorate our work with iO over the years since his passing, please help us to support the hardest working people in the room.

***JCMS is a 501c3 non-profit, your donations will be tax-deductible.

***If you have any questions about this fundraiser or about JCMS please feel free to reach out to Shelby through the JCMS website.

***To find out more about JCMS please visit

***To find out more information about iO and it’s recent closing please visit

***JCMS will continue to award scholarships to a training center in the future but will no longer be funding scholarships to iO training programs. Our new scholarship location will be announced at a later date.

***Money from this fundraiser will NOT go to any JCMS training scholarships. All money raised with go directly to in-need iO employees, Chicago comedy community members, and new theater institutions.
  • Anonymous
    • $100 
    • 21 mos
  • Shelby Plummer
    • $100 
    • 25 mos
  • Deb Reynolds
    • $1,000 
    • 29 mos
  • Elliott Cohen
    • $15 
    • 29 mos
  • Tim Leehane
    • $500 
    • 29 mos
See all


Shelby Plummer
Chicago, IL
James Conklin Memorial Scholarship
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.

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