Equitable Recovery | A $17 Million Initiative

Why We’re Investing in Chicago’s Equitable Recovery

It would be easy to say that the pandemic has exposed deep-seated racial inequities in our society and in our city, but the truth is that they have existed in plain sight for a very long time. What has changed is people’s willingness to see them, and to do something more about them. The message is clear: This is a catalyst moment. And it needs to be met with more resources.

Our Approach

Polk Bros. Foundation’s Board of Directors approved $17 million in additional grantmaking over two years to help Chicago recover from the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that addresses persistent and significant racial inequities. These new resources are a chance to catalyze and mobilize additional funding and collaboration, to work across silos, to try some new things, and to make some bigger investments and some smaller investments in new ways. In deep discussion with grantee partners and listening to community members, Polk Bros. Foundation staff have been closely considering how new resources could best contribute to bringing about the kind of change we are all seeking for Chicago.

What We Support

Polk Bros. Foundation is focusing two years of significantly increased grantmaking in areas that are essential to helping Chicago’s communities heal from the many effects of the pandemic and to addressing longstanding and systemic racial inequities. Grants support efforts to increase the strength and sustainability of BIPOC-led organizations and grantees’ development of a racial equity lens in their work. Funding is also directed toward initiatives to build economic growth, community wealth, housing stability, and community safety in south- and west-side communities, to support CPS principals and teachers and better engage CPS students in learning that is responsive to this moment and supports their academic growth, and to tend to trauma and mental health, especially for CPS students.
Equitable Recovery Blog Header Polk Bros. Foundation has made the following Equitable Recovery grants, to date:

Focus Area: Economic Growth and Community Wealth

November 2020

  • $750,000 to North Lawndale Employment Network, Claretian Associates and IMAN for their finalist Chicago Prize initiatives, specifically:
    • $250,000 to North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) for The Time is Now: Advancing North Lawndale Together to support the creation of a workforce development campus in North Lawndale that will house NLEN’s programs and social enterprises and provide community amenities, including meeting space and a bank
    • $250,000 to Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) for Go Green on Racine to support the development of a fresh food market and community hub in Englewood
    • $250,000 to Claretian Associates for We’re Steel Here: Working Together to Reinvigorate South Chicago to support the preservation and development of affordable rental housing and redevelopment of a shuttered YMCA into a community center, business incubator, computer lab, and fitness center with a pool
  • $250,000 for the Fund for Equitable Business Growth (a multi-funder collaborative housed at Chicago Community Foundation) to help entrepreneurs of color access coordinated and trusted services with the ultimate goal of ensuring the success and growth of businesses of color — a key ingredient to a thriving, equitable and inclusive local economy.
  • $100,000 to Skills for Chicagoland’s Future for its Neighborhood Link initiative to bring the organization’s demand-driven workforce placement programming — as well as access to co-located supportive services — directly into Englewood and Austin, two communities with the highest unemployment rates.

February 2021

  • $250,000 for We Rise Together: For an Equitable and Just Recovery (a multi-funder collaborative housed at Chicago Community Foundation) to accelerate equitable economic recovery for Black and Latinx communities by distributing pooled philanthropic resources, and to reform and re-envision policies and business practices to ensure our region invests more equitably.

August 2021

  • $1,000,000 (over two years) to the Obama Foundation for its efforts to implement workforce development programs engaging south- and west-side Chicagoans in the construction and operation of the Obama Presidential Center, with particular emphasis on the neighborhoods in its immediate vicinity — Washington Park, Woodlawn, and South Shore — and to create a pipeline of new workers for future major construction projects across the city.
  • $300,000 total ($100,000 each) to HIRE360, Chicago Women in Trades, and Revolution Workshop for workforce development programs, including through the We Can Build It Consortium, designed to help residents of Chicago’s south and west sides get trained in and enter the construction trades.

November 2021

  • $250,000 for the second year of the Fund for Equitable Business Growth (a multi-funder collaborative housed at Chicago Community Foundation) to help entrepreneurs of color access coordinated and trusted services with the ultimate goal of ensuring the success and growth of businesses of color — a key ingredient to a thriving, equitable and inclusive local economy.
  • $250,000 to Neighborhood Developers Initiative's Community Desk Chicago (via Chicago Community Foundation) which will build the capacity of community-based organizations to take a more active role in the physical redevelopment of their communities. The initiative will be piloted with Teamwork Englewood, South Shore Chamber of Commerce and Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Humboldt Park. Community Desk Chicago is a partnership between the Chicago Community Trust (CCT), JPMorgan Chase Foundation and Boston Consulting Group.
  • $150,000 to Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights for its work with at least four BIPOC-led and serving organizations to ensure that the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) programs function effectively, especially the provisions related to equitable economic opportunity. As Illinois transitions from expensive and polluting fossil fuels to affordable and clean energy, this effort will help ensure relief is provided to communities of color that have long been overburdened with polluting facilities.
  • $50,000 to Aspire to launch a two-year Chicago employment expansion project that will prepare south- and west-side residents living with disabilities to enter jobs in integrated environments and to prepare local employers to foster ongoing cultures of inclusivity.

May 2022

  • $160,000 to the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership to support the implementation of a system-wide Barrier-Reduction Fund and the procurement of a mobile workforce center, two critical elements that will ensure the effective deployment of $231.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding intended to address unemployment in Chicago communities most negatively impacted by the pandemic and its ripple effects.

August 2022

  • $100,000 to Chicago Workers’ Rights Fund (via Chicago Community Foundation) to develop enhanced protections for low-wage workers in partnership with local worker centers, workforce training providers and educational institutions. This grant will support organizations working on educating the current and future workforce about workers’ rights.

Focus Area: Housing Stability

November 2020

  • $500,000 to Center for Housing and Health to support a new youth component of the Flexible Housing Pool (FHP) that initially aims to house 200 young adults experiencing homelessness. The FHP is an unprecedented public partnership launched in 2019 that provides a rental subsidy paired with support services for Chicagoans who are medically fragile and do not have a place to live.

February 2021

  • $105,000 to Enterprise Community Partners to work with the City of Chicago Department of Housing to advance racial equity by: 1) implementing the Assessment of Fair Housing; and 2) finalizing a Racial Equity Impact Assessment of the City of Chicago Department of Housing’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Qualified Allocation Program.

May 2021

  • $300,000 to United Way of Metropolitan Chicago and six community-based providers (named below) for the creation of Chicago’s Eviction Prevention Racial Equity Rapid Response Team (RERRT) to help address Chicago’s eviction crisis and ensure eviction prevention and assistance is delivered with an explicit racial equity focus. Chicago’s successful COVID-19 RERRT will serve as a model, and its focus on data, collaborative decision-making, and goals that target racially-equitable results will serve as a platform to generate effective community-based solutions to mitigate an anticipated large spike in evictions. Specifically:
    • $150,000 to United Way of Metropolitan Chicago for the hiring of a dedicated program director
    • $150,000 total ($25,000 each) to these six community-based providers for their participation in the Eviction Prevention RERRT: West Side Health Authority, Far South Community Development Corporation, Center for Changing Lives, Acclivus, ZAM’s Hope and Latinos Progresando
  • $150,000 to University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab (IEL) for the continued evaluation of the Families in Transition (FIT) pilot, which is providing long-term housing subsidies coupled with trauma-informed supportive services for 100 families of CPS students experiencing homelessness and housing instability. The FIT pilot is the first time that City of Chicago homelessness funds are being used to support families who are living doubled-up in addition to supporting families who are living in shelters and on the streets. The findings from this study will be the first in the nation to examine the impact of stable housing on the outcomes of families who had been living doubled-up.
  • $150,000 to Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) for a partnership with Communities United to prevent evictions in Austin and Roseland, communities where some of the highest case rates are expected due to the number of households that were already cost-burdened (paying more than 30% of income on rent) prior to the pandemic.
  • $100,000 to Neighborhood Housing Services for the Housing Policy Task Force to pursue policy solutions and develop programs focused on addressing the ongoing legacy of redlining and systemic bias in the real estate sector — which principally manifest today as racial lending and appraisal disparities — with the goal of ensuring more equitable access to the wealth-building opportunities of homeownership for all Chicagoans.

August 2021

  • $300,000 to All Chicago to pilot a new systems-level approach to connecting Chicago’s homeless response and workforce sectors. This pilot has the potential to move the homeless response sector from a workforce approach reliant on individual relationships to systems-level coordination with workforce providers. The goal is to ensure that people who are experiencing homelessness have the supports they need to get the jobs they want.
  • $100,000 to Chicago Video Project for website development and an educational outreach campaign to expand the reach of their five-part Shame of Chicago documentary series that tells the story of how Chicago became one of the most racially-segregated cities in the world and how that history illuminates our city’s divided present. The outreach campaign will include the creation and distribution of a high school curriculum for use in Chicago Public Schools and suburban education systems.

February 2022

  • $300,000 to Chicago Bar Foundation to support an evaluation of the City’s Right to Counsel Pilot Project, which will provide legal services to at least 3,000 people who are at risk of eviction, and an analysis of the costs and benefits of taking a full Right to Counsel eviction program to scale in Chicago.

May 2022

  • $240,000 to Connecting Capital and Community (3C), a multi-sector collaborative housed at the Chicago Community Foundation, to support an evaluation of two pilots in East Garfield Park and Humboldt Park that aim to increase homeownership and to address the racial inequities at the core of the housing ecosystem by identifying mortgage lending barriers, creating new financial products, and leveraging vacant land and buildings to develop affordable single-family homes and two- to four-flats.
  • $90,000 to Chicago Continuum of Care (via fiscal sponsor All Chicago) to work with the Heartland Social Impact Research Center to develop the first comprehensive funding and needs analysis for the Continuum of Care (CoC) and the City. The analysis will advance the work of the CoC by assessing the needs of the homelessness sector and people experiencing homelessness in Chicago, analyzing where funding is going, engaging key stakeholders in interpreting the findings, and drafting recommendations to guide funders and service priorities.

August 2022

  • $100,000 to Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago for the second year of the Housing Policy Task Force’s work, which is addressing systemic inequities in Chicago's home lending and appraisal processes and helping to ensure all Chicagoans have greater access to financial prosperity and generational wealth.

Focus Area: Community Safety & Systemic Reforms

February 2021

  • $140,000 to Goldin Institute for Peace By Design, a collaboration with Studio Gang that will use the tools of design and planning to help reduce violence and build positive relationships that contribute to community safety in East and West Garfield Park. A key component of this work is the Youth Design Leadership Program for Community Safety, which will introduce teen participants to the fundamentals of design and an exploration of community safety by combining hands-on educational workshops and participation in community conversations that they will use to influence design and planning solutions to promote public safety.

May 2021

  • $150,000 total to Communities United, Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation and Westside Justice Center for three community-led approaches to public safety. Specifically:
    • $50,000 to Communities United (CU) for the Healing Through Justice pilot, a partnership between CU and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital that will engage a range of community organizations and residents who are survivors of trauma to develop a plan for community-led public safety in Belmont Cragin and Roseland.
    • $50,000 to Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation for Just Peace, a restorative justice collaborative composed of Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, Circles and Ciphers, and Community Justice for the Youth Institute, which aims to strengthen relationships between community members, partner organizations, and other stakeholders through restorative justice practices, and for these relationships to form the foundation of a community network with the capacity to respond to acts of harm and violence in restorative and healing ways.
    • $50,000 to Westside Justice Center for Know Your Resources to build an alternative community-based response system and infrastructure in East Garfield Park and North Lawndale. Westside Justice Center will hold a series of community forums to develop a collective vision for community safety that does not rely on policing and build local capacity in collaboration with partners that offer trainings on first response for gunshot wounds, de-escalation of interpersonal conflicts, and safety when engaging with the police.
  • $50,000 to Equity and Transformation for a guaranteed basic income pilot to address economic inequality and recidivism by providing unconditional payments of $500 per month for 18 months to 30 formerly-incarcerated people in West Garfield Park, a community which has been disproportionately impacted by poverty and incarceration.

August 2021

  • $250,000 to the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities pooled fund (housed at the Chicago Community Foundation) for a neighborhood-based violence reduction strategy being piloted in North Lawndale. In collaboration with local neighborhood leaders, Heartland Alliance’s READI Chicago, Metropolitan Family Services’ Communities Partnering for Peace (CP4P), and Chicago CRED will grow their collective organizational capacity to serve 600 to 700 highest-risk individuals through street intervention and outreach accompanied by social services including cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling, job training and legal support.
  • $150,000 total ($50,000 each) to Illinois Justice Project, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, and Business and Professional People for the Public Interest for Justice 20/20, an initiative to build an umbrella alliance of policy advocates, community-based organizations, and people with lived experience to work collaboratively to identify and advance an inclusive agenda of criminal legal system reforms, including the successful implementation of the SAFE-T Act.

February 2022

  • $250,000 to Garfield Park Rite to Wellness Collaborative (via fiscal sponsor United Way of Metropolitan Chicago) to support a comprehensive community engagement and planning initiative that coordinates all City resources and develops a quality-of-life plan to improve public safety and social and economic conditions in West Garfield Park.
  • $250,000 to ConTextos to continue its Authors Circles program in the Cook County Department of Corrections during a randomized control trial that will add significantly to the body of knowledge about the potential effectiveness of interventions like this, which incorporates narrative-therapy features, restorative justice practices, and trauma-informed curricula and delivery by trained experts to encourage healing, accountability and reflection among people awaiting trial in Cook County Jail.
  • $215,000 to Women’s Justice Institute (via fiscal sponsor Safer Foundation) to launch the Reclamation Center, a 3,000+ square foot advocacy, arts, mutual support and co-working space led by and for women impacted by the criminal legal system. The first of its kind, the center was conceptualized and inspired by the work of the system-impacted leaders of the Statewide Women's Justice Task Force, which convened over 500 women from 2018-2021 to produce an historic report of recommendations aiming to end women's mass incarceration and confronting the false narratives that fuel it.
  • $150,000 to Illinois Humanities to help Illinoisans envision new possibilities for a more just future through the next phase of the Illinois Humanities program, Envisioning Justice, which was launched in 2017 to use the arts and humanities to engage communities in public dialogue about mass incarceration and its effects. Envisioning Justice commissions works of art and humanities and uses those works to facilitate conversations about mass incarceration in collaboration with nonprofits, community members, researchers, and activists. Envisioning Justice also seeks to strengthen the network of individuals and organizations working to address mass incarceration through grantmaking and capacity-building efforts.
  • $50,000 to Territory to support youth-led community design efforts in Austin that further goals of Austin’s community-generated quality of life plan and to support Territory in establishing a permanent studio home in Austin as a resource for Austin youth and community members.

May 2022

  • $134,000 to Civic Consulting Alliance (CCA) to establish the Community Commission on Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA), Chicago's first civilian-led commission to oversee the Chicago Police Department (CPD) with the goal to improve community engagement and CPD oversight and accountability. CCA will help ensure CCPSA has the appropriate organizational infrastructure to carry out its mission.
  • $50,000 to University of Illinois Chicago Office of Social Science Research to support a study that will analyze the implementation of state policies intended to support and protect survivors of violence in Illinois, including an analysis of why victims of violent crime cannot or do not access services and support, the development of a plan to eliminate barriers, and the creation of a database with victim services resources.

August 2022

  • $250,000 for the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities Neighborhood-Based Violence Reduction Strategy (via Chicago Community Foundation) to support the delivery of scaled and coordinated violence reduction services by Heartland Alliance (READI Chicago), Metropolitan Family Services (Communities Partnering 4 Peace) and Chicago CRED in North Lawndale, with an aim to have community-level impact by reaching 700 individuals at highest risk of gun violence involvement.

Focus Area: Equity in Education

November 2020

  • $100,000 for the COVID Comeback Fund (a multi-funder initiative housed at the Chicago Public Education Fund) to provide qualifying district and charter school principals with a one-time $10,000 award to help teachers translate instruction to the virtual environment, adapt materials used previously and purchase new ones, and to engage students and parents.

February 2021

  • $340,000 total to Chicago United for Equity and National Equity Project for anti-racist/anti-bias work in Chicago Public Schools, specifically:
    • $130,000 to Chicago United for Equity (CUE) to engage 12 Chicago public school principals or assistant principals in a peer learning group focused on involving a broad group of school and community stakeholders in identifying racial equity challenges by undertaking a Racial Equity Impact Assessment and then making change where needed
    • $210,000 to National Equity Project (NEP) to enable six CPS schools and one CPS Network Chief to join an existing peer learning group called the Midwest District Network, which is focused on helping participants identify and test approaches to address equity challenges in their schools using NEP’s Leading for Equity Framework
  • $320,000 total to Thrive, Alternatives, Chicago Youth Centers, Chinese American Service League and Global Girls for remote learning supports, specifically:
    • $200,000 to Thrive to manage and coordinate community-based organization-led remote learning hubs based in Chicago Public Schools sites in the second half of the 2020/21 school year and through the summer. Learning hubs provide safe places with stable internet and appropriate technology for students to engage in remote learning, including supervision by qualified, caring adults, along with nutritious meals and access to enrichment activities and other supports and services. During the school year the learning hubs will aim to improve attendance and participation and in the summer the hubs will help address lost learning time and prepare young people and their families for the start of the 2021/22 school year
    • $120,000 total ($30,000 each) to Alternatives, Chicago Youth Centers, Chinese American Service League and Global Girls to continue their remote learning hubs through the end of the school year

May 2021

  • $225,000 to Leading Educators for Accelerating Learning in Math and Igniting Potential Post COVID-19, an effort to help principal and instructional leadership teams at eight Chicago public elementary schools accelerate instruction in math beginning in the summer of 2021. Leading Educators will support teachers to improve their content knowledge and their ability to differentiate learning, and each school’s leadership team will create an action and data plan to guide their work with students.

August 2021

  • $146,000 to the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago for UChicago Impact to lead the STEP Learning Recovery Project. This effort will build the capacity of teaching assistants at six elementary schools in the Greater Bronzeville area to provide one-on-one tutoring to students who are reading significantly below grade level. Each school will also be given a curated library of student books to use during tutoring that are culturally relevant and appropriately matched to students’ reading levels.

February 2022

  • $50,000 to the Surge Institute to support its 2022 Fellowship cohort and onboarding of the 2023 cohort in Chicago, which will help build the ranks of highly-skilled BIPOC leaders at Chicago education organizations and at Chicago Public Schools.

August 2022

  • $230,000 to Roosevelt University for Metropolitan Chicago Tutoring Corps to engage 100 teacher candidates and college graduates from Roosevelt, National Louis, Chicago State and Northeastern Illinois universities in providing high-dosage tutoring for 1,500 Chicago public school first through fifth graders in reading and literacy.

Focus Area: Access to Mental Health and Trauma Services

February 2021

  • $600,000 total to Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago, Healthy Schools Campaign, and four school-based mental health providers (named below) for a coordinated school mental health data transformation project to help increase access to and connectivity between both health and education data so CPS, individual school leaders, and health providers can understand what interventions are most successful in improving both school and wellness outcomes and connect students to critical behavioral health services appropriately and equitably. Specifically:
    • $350,000 to Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago for program design, project management, evaluation, process mapping, and sub-contracting with a technical advisor
    • $50,000 to Healthy Schools Campaign for project support and policy alignment
    • $200,000 total ($50,000 each) to Alternatives, Heartland Health Centers, UCAN, and Youth Guidance, the four school-based mental health providers which will participate as pilot sites in the demonstration project while also increasing service provision

May 2021

  • $200,000 to Sinai Health System for Ogden Commons Community Hub to continue the Ogden Commons Community Council which engages the broader west-side community to solicit their ideas and better understand how to enhance patient experience. Sinai Health System will also open a Multi-tiered Resource Hub to provide local residents with access to community health workers, intensive case management focused on improving the social determinants of health, and connections to key Sinai Health System programs, including early childhood intervention, prenatal care, adult protective and senior services, food and nutrition resources, and housing services.

August 2021

  • $300,000 to Health First Collaborative (HFC) pooled fund (housed at Michael Reese Health Trust) to increase the reach and service delivery of community health centers and to support the Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership (CVP), a collaboration of stakeholders dedicated to coordinating resources and learnings to ensure all Chicagoans can access COVID-19 vaccines while also strengthening a public health workforce to pursue health equity beyond this current pandemic.

November 2021

  • $70,000 to UCAN to pilot weekly hour-long grief and loss groups for students over the next 12 months in response to the increased trauma students are facing as a direct or indirect result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

February 2022

  • $300,000 to University of Illinois Jane Addams College of Social Work (JACSW) to create a pipeline of social workers with lived experiences that provide them with the specific cultural sensitivity and empathy needed to help meet the mental health needs of children in disinvested communities. This grant will expand JACSW’s evidence-based child mental health certificate and We are Men programs.
  • $250,000 to Heartland Alliance Health to create a flexible services team that will improve outreach and supports and offer low-barrier stabilization housing for people who are experiencing homelessness, have sought medical help through hospital emergency rooms, and who have also been incarcerated in Cook County Jail. The grant will also support HAH in providing stabilization housing for 100 people using housing first, harm reduction approaches.
  • $80,000 to Renaissance Social Services of Illinois to create a Community Support Team that will help participants in the Flexible Housing Pool (FHP) maintain stable housing by addressing needs related to serious mental illness or undiagnosed serious mental and behavioral health challenges. The FHP is a public-private partnership launched in 2019 that provides a rental subsidy paired with trauma-informed and harm reduction-oriented support services for Chicagoans who are medically fragile and do not have a stable place to live.
  • $60,000 to Health and Medicine Policy Research Group for the Public Health Workforce Collaborative to produce a landscape assessment of the community health worker profession, with the support of people with lived experience, to be engaged by the Illinois Community Health Workers Association.

May 2022

  • $300,000 to Community Behavioral Healthcare Association (CBHA) to help improve the clinical skills of the children’s mental health workforce in Chicago and to enhance the quality of services for children seeking services. CBHA will lead a program that provides funding and capacity-building support that will enable six youth community mental health service organizations to increase clinical supervision and to offer a stipend for interns.
  • $235,000 to Gads Hill Center to develop and implement a comprehensive and replicable training and clinical supervision model for mental health clinicians, school social workers and school counselors that supports the mental health ecosystem.

August 2022

  • $200,000 to Michael Reese Health Trust for the second year of the Health First Collaborative and its efforts to support innovation and collaboration among community health centers, the Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership, and efforts to build and diversify the healthcare workforce.
  • $200,000 to SkyART to help address glaring disparities in access to mental and behavioral health services across Chicago by sustaining and further growing its art therapy programs on the south and west sides of Chicago. SkyART’s art therapy programs are helping participants navigate the isolation and impact of the pandemic, responding to the needs and objectives of young people.
  • $100,000 to Illinois Community Health Workers Association to build its infrastructure and ability to serve its membership of more than 400 community health workers, as well as to pilot the Community Health Worker (CHW) common indicators project, a national effort to develop a common set of standards to evaluate and train CHWs.
  • $100,000 to Esperanza Health Centers to launch a new workforce development initiative within the Chicago Safety Net Learning Collaborative and to build its own internal capacity to build the healthcare workforce.
  • $100,000 to Planned Parenthood of Illinois to expand its mental health department — which includes behavioral health services, gender-affirming therapy and an Englewood pilot offering prenatal services, which will help ensure every patient has access to the sexual and reproductive healthcare they need and deserve. Through this grant, PPI can address the severe and long-term consequences of ending the constitutional right to abortion in the U.S., including the need for quality mental health services to support the provision of reproductive health care and address trauma arising from barriers in accessing care.

Focus Area: A Nonprofit Sector Ready to Advance Racial Justice

November 2020

  • $250,000 for the Racial Justice Pooled Fund (a multi-funder collaborative housed at the Crossroads Fund) to support Chicago organizations building and sustaining movements for justice that center Black lives and address anti-Blackness.
  • $100,000 to The New School to support a Chicago Color of Wealth Study, commissioned by the Chicago Community Trust, that will measure the region’s wealth gap, reveal the key drivers of assets and debt in Chicago, highlight the unique wealth profiles of specific populations, and complement other work released about the region’s disparities.

February 2021

  • $250,000 to IFF for America’s Cultural Treasures Chicago to assess the breadth and depth of challenges facing BIPOC arts organizations in the region; provide multi-year general operating support grants to local cultural treasures, as defined by a panel of arts and culture and community leaders in Chicago; and design and implement capacity-building and technical assistance services to support the long-term financial stability and resiliency of BIPOC arts organizations.
  • $100,000 to AMPT (via fiscal sponsor Chicago Cares) to help strengthen the organizational health of nonprofits on Chicago’s west and south sides, particularly small- to mid-sized organizations led by and serving Black and Latinx communities.
  • $50,000 to the Pathways Initiative (housed at the Chicago Community Foundation) to strengthen the diversity of the evaluation field by increasing the recruitment, training and retention of equity-focused, culturally-responsive evaluators of color in the Chicago region.

August 2021

  • $150,000 to Ingenuity for the Chicago Public Schools arts partner re-engagement strategy to facilitate a community-led process to understand how the artlook map and other tools are currently serving nonprofits partnering with CPS schools and how artlook and Ingenuity can support their work better, particularly following the pandemic’s disruption of arts education in CPS.
  • $50,000 for the Chicago Youth Mutual Aid (CYMA) collaboration (via fiscal sponsor About Face Theatre) for efforts to strengthen its infrastructure and capacity to serve more people in need. CYMA — a Black- and Brown-led collaboration of Assata’s Daughters, Chicago Freedom School, Circles & Cyphers, Street Youth Rise Up, and Youth Empowerment Performance Project — was launched to respond to COVID-19-related emergency needs of the people and families the organizations serve.
  • $50,000 to Forefront for the development of a Racial Equity Collective, a three-year racial justice and equity leadership initiative in Chicago and Cook County that will serve as a centralized network and convener to improve the nonprofit sector’s access to racial equity thought leadership, resources and capacity-building efforts, data and expertise, programming, and networking.

November 2021

  • $250,000 for the second year of the Racial Justice Pooled Fund (a multi-funder collaborative housed at the Crossroads Fund) to support Chicago organizations building and sustaining movements for justice that center Black lives and address anti-Blackness. In its first year, the Fund allocated $1,945,000 in grants, ranging from $25,000 to $50,000, to 54 organizations that are working to change inequitable systems and policies through advocacy and organizing.

February 2022

  • $100,000 to Brave Space Alliance to support the development of the community pantry network program into a permanent fixture that not only addresses food insecurity but will provide holistic attention to the health and workforce needs in communities on the south and west sides of the city, prioritizing the leadership and engagement of BIPOC transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) individuals as the most marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ community and experts on their lived experience.
  • $100,000 to Illinois Black Advocacy Initiative (via fiscal sponsor Forefront) to support the establishment of a statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to improve the social and economic outcomes of Black Illinoisians. The Initiative will build shared goals to address the root causes of racial inequity in Illinois, identify opportunities for advocacy and education, and collaborate across disciplines and strategies to develop accurate narratives and solutions about Black communities informed by historic and current-day experience. It will also amplify the efforts of existing advocacy organizations and Black communities across Illinois through partnership, collaboration and collective action.

May 2022

  • $250,000 to Kehrein Center for the Arts Foundation to support the hiring of a permanent executive director and the continued development of operational infrastructure that will enable this organization and its state-of-the-art performance facility to grow further as a center of cultural and civic life for the Austin community in accord with residents’ priorities and values.
  • $150,000 to the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab for an evaluation of Chicago's $31 million Chicago Resilient Families pilot monthly cash assistance program that will provide $500 per month for 12 months to 5,000 households impacted by COVID-19. The historic scale of the pilot will enable critical learning opportunities for Chicago and the broader field of practice in guaranteed income regarding program impact and design that will strengthen the existing federal, state and local safety nets.
  • $150,000 to AMPT (via fiscal sponsor Chicago Cares) to pilot a Financial Resilience Capacity-Building Initiative in partnership with IFF, Forefront, and BDO FMA to help stabilize and strengthen financial management supports for 20 BIPOC-led and -serving nonprofit organizations.
  • $50,000 to Pathways Initiative (housed at the Chicago Community Foundation) to strengthen the diversity of the evaluation field by increasing the recruitment, training, and retention of equity-focused, culturally-responsive evaluators of color in the Chicago region.

August 2022

  • $250,000 to Latinos Progresando (LP) to support strengthening the organizational infrastructure and collaboration of the Excellerator Fund, a joint venture developed by LP and Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation to drive equitable social and economic recovery through community-driven investment in Chicago’s Black and Mexican leadership.
  • $100,000 to Legal Action Chicago to build a coalition of partners who will work to address the disproportionate burden of consumer debt, which is both a product of and a substantial contributing factor to the stark and widening racial wealth gap.

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