CHICAGO (August 19, 2020) — During its August 2020 meeting, Polk Bros. Foundation’s Board of Directors approved up to $8.5 million in additional grantmaking through its upcoming fiscal year to help Chicago recover from the pandemic in a way that addresses persistent and significant racial inequities. The Board’s decision will increase the Foundation’s projected payout rate for the 2021 fiscal year to more than 9% (which represents an anticipated $33.5 million in total grant spending).
“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,” said Polk Bros. Foundation CEO Gillian Darlow in a blog post announcing the increased spending. “This is a catalyst moment. And it needs to be met with more resources.” The Foundation has historically awarded an average of $25 million in grants annually to more than 400 Chicago-based organizations, representing an average 6.5% payout rate.
With a significantly increased spending guideline, the Foundation intends to focus new, targeted investments in areas that are essential to helping Chicago’s communities heal after the pandemic and to addressing longstanding and systemic racial inequities. Foundation staff will explore ways the increased investments might build economic growth, community wealth, housing stability, and community safety in south- and west-side communities, to 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. Equally important, the Foundation will work to support the strength and sustainability of BIPOC-led organizations and also to support grantees’ development of a racial equity lens in their work.
“We take the responsibility of these extra funds very seriously, and we have been listening closely to our grantee partners and community voices about what Chicago needs now,” said Darlow. “Our goal is to join with others to help Chicago’s communities recover and rebuild from the pandemic in a way that ushers in long-overdue racial justice and equity.”
Polk Bros. Foundation’s increased spending for FY2021 will be in addition to its ongoing grantmaking. Any funding guidelines developed for the increased payout throughout the year will be published on the Foundation’s website (www.polkbrosfdn.org).