Relief Fund for Laid-Off iO Chicago Staff

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.


 See top
  • Shelby Plummer 
    • $100 
    • 10 d
  • Deb Reynolds 
    • $1,000 
    • 4 mos
  • Elliott Cohen 
    • $15 
    • 4 mos
  • Tim Leehane  
    • $500 
    • 4 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 4 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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