June 2019
On May 28th, the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities (PSPC)—a coalition of over 40 funders working to substantially reduce gun violence and increase police legitimacy in Chicago—announced $1.1 million in grants to 181 community-based organizations for programs, services, and events this summer and fall.

This is the fourth consecutive year that PSPC is awarding grants through the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities , which provides rapid-response grants of $1,000 to $10,000 to hyper-local, community-led organizations creating the conditions to reduce violence o n the South and West sides. The program is one of four violence-reduction strategies supported by PSPC members, along with street outreach and transitional jobs, police reform and community relations, and gun policy reform. To date, members have committed nearly $75 million to support these approaches.
The Chicago Fund supports events, programs, and services to foster stronger community bonds and crowd out violence, helping to reduce the gun violence that typically spikes during the warmer months of the year.

This year, the Chicago Fund prioritized 21 South and West Side community areas:
Austin, Auburn Gresham, Chatham, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, West Englewood, Gage Park, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, Greater Grand Crossing, Humboldt Park, Lower West Side (Pilsen), New City (Back of the Yards), North Lawndale, Roseland, South Chicago, South Lawndale (Little Village), South Shore, Washington Park, West Pullman and Woodlawn.
These grants are meaningful to these grassroots community organizations. This year, the median operating budget of grantee organizations is $83,000, while the median grant size is $6,111. In 2018, nearly 40,000 Chicago residents attended events, participated in programming, or received services as a result of Chicago Fund projects.

We spoke with a few 2019 grantees about what they do and how this grant supports their work. Visit the Chicago Fund's website to learn more about all 181 grantees.
Gyrls in the H.O.O.D. Foundation - The Ruby Project

The Ruby Project helps girls recognize their worth. I started this project to raise awareness of the roles girls play in the violence epidemic and to remind girls of their value and the consequences of gang activity.

This grant will cover social activities, transportation, violence prevention classes, incentives, awareness campaign materials, and more.

-Chez Smith, Founder, Gyrls in the H.O.O.D. Foundation
Jardincito Nature Play Garden - Little Village Community Days

The mission of Jardincito Nature Play Garden is to connect the issues of health and environment as a way to provide opportunities for growth and healing in our community. All of our programming is free and facilitated by community members. This highlights people who are doing great work in our community, and provides a learning experience for participants and facilitators. 

This grant will support supplies and stipends for community facilitators leading our Earth Work and Artist in Residence program, community celebrations, and garden permaculture maintenance.

-Sara Cortés  - Community Member, Jardincito Nature Play Garden
Chasing23 - Summer Male Mentoring Experience

The goal of the Summer Male Mentoring Experience is to build a network of young people and residents in our community.

The Chicago Fund grant will support two core activities: mentorship and skills building. We will host weekly peace circles and social outings for mentoring matches. Secondly, we will partner with local creative professionals to introduce creative disciplines such as graphic design and silk screen production to young men in the Washington Park and Woodlawn communities.

-Darius Ballinger, Founder and CEO, Chasing23
Darren B. Easterling Center - Truth and Reconciliation Summit 

The summit is a day-long event designed to reweave the social fabric of various Chicago communities in an effort to move the city forward by healing its past. Through the practice of forgiveness, we hope to give rise to both healing and reconciliation with survivors, perpetrators, and community leaders, in an environment that develops a sense of connectedness.

Funds from this grant will support the overall costs associated with hosting the summit, including food, the venue, stipends for panelists, printing, and supplies.

PSPC was founded in 2016 in response to a dramatic spike in gun violence in Chicago. Its innovative model aligns funders of diverse scale and mission around investments in evidence-based strategies to achieve a shared vision. Civic Consulting Alliance has supported PSPC from its inception, helping foundation leaders develop a portfolio of proven and promising strategies, developing funding approaches for each of the strategies, and managing the growth and operations of this complex, unique partnership.
Anna Furby worked with Civic Consulting Alliance from February to June 2019 as a fellow from Protiviti . Dillan Patel and Natlie Griffin worked with Civic Consulting Alliance as  Northwestern University undergraduate fellows from April to June 2019. 
What project work were you involved in during your time at the Civic Consulting Alliance?

AF: I supported the transition teams of both mayoral runoff candidates between February 26th and April 2nd, and then I worked on Mayor Lightfoot’s transition after the runoff election and into the first few weeks of her administration after inauguration.

DP: I also supported Mayor Lightfoot’s transition team, providing project management for ten external transition committees.

NG: I worked with the Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Early Childhood Education to implement Universal Pre-K (UPK), focusing on development of a tracking and reporting dashboard to bring together data from enrollment, facilities, and staffing. 

What will you take away from your time at Civic Consulting Alliance?

AF: It’s been energizing to meet all the dedicated people at Civic Consulting Alliance, on the transition team, and in Mayor Lightfoot’s administration. 

DP: I’m grateful to have the opportunity to support such an important project, and I look forward to keeping in touch with the amazing people I worked with.

NG: It was inspiring to see people from a variety of professional backgrounds come together. It reinforced my belief in the power of building trust and relationships.

What was your most memorable experience during your time at Civic Consulting Alliance?

AF: A few days after the runoff election on April 2nd, I was at the transition team office, and I remember watching Mayor-Elect Lightfoot and the head of her security detail practice her opening pitch for the Chicago White Sox home opener later that day. It was a fun moment—and surreal!

DP: I enjoyed seeing so many diverse and passionate individuals from across Chicago come together on the transition committee meetings. I’m eager to see how the new administration implements some of the ideas the committees produced!

NG: Our team problem solving sessions were incredibly enriching. As an undergraduate fellow, I never expected the opportunity to contribute to high-level strategy discussions, but I always felt that my opinion was valued and heard. 

How has your time at Civic Consulting Alliance helped you develop professionally?

AF: I learned how transferrable my skills are from the private to public sector, which I will undoubtedly leverage in the future.

DP: This experience reaffirmed my interest in the public sector and the political sphere. I am coming away with admiration for Civic Consulting Alliance and greater exposure to the challenges and rewards of public sector work.

NG: This has been a dream job for me, and has profoundly influenced my professional goals. I have grown immensely by understanding the types of problems I like to solve, the client work that fulfills me, and the skills I need to continue to develop as I start my job in Cook County Budget and Management next year.

Civic Consulting Alliance Fellowships are full-time positions that typically last between three months and a year. Fellows are integrated into project teams for a unique professional development opportunity. Additionally, i n partnership with Northwestern University, we provide a semester-long Undergraduate Fellowship. Please visit our   Fellowships   page to learn more about our range of fellowship opportunities.

  • West Side United hosted a healthcare hiring fair earlier this month to increase local hiring across their six partner hospitals. Hospital employers conducted 139 interviews with pre-screened candidates at the June 11th fair, over 40 of whom were immediately referred for second-round interviews.

  • READI, a violence prevention program supported by PSPC, recently hit its goal of connecting 500 men who are highly impacted by gun violence with paid transitional jobs, cognitive behavioral therapy, and support services.

  • WGN-TV recently featured PSPC, highlighting the need for solutions to the root causes of gun violence and PSPC's $75 million commitment to support communities most affected by gun violence.

  • Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi recently spoke on Chicago Tonight about his work and some of the projects we have supported as the Office moves towards a more equitable assessment practice.
Questions? Comments? Contact Marie Akerman