Funding Opportunity: Human relations
The most glaring social relations problem in the Chicago region remains the geographic and social separation of whites from African Americans. For decades blacks and whites have been nearly totally separated residentially, with dissimilarity scores consistently over 90 (on a scale from 0 to 100). To varying degrees, this separation results from history, cultural identity, the association of housing markets with wealth and ongoing discrimination. Results and causes of this separation include highly segregated religious institutions, racially aligned business relationships, racially segregated schools and other social divisions. People of different races fear one another in some settings and have markedly different interpretations of the meaning of race in our society. While very difficult to tease out precisely, the racially divisive history and present may contribute to gang and youth violence. Certainly it contributes to the poverty that facilitates crime.
To a lesser degree, there are also divisions between Latinos and other groups. Formal measures of segregation of Latinos and whites remain high, although nowhere near as high as those between blacks and whites, and the meaning of that separation is different. National surveys have shown, for instance, that Latinos are less concerned than blacks with having elected representation of their own group, and in many domains have views more similar to whites than blacks. Nonetheless, the three groups do contend for political power and influence, certainly within Chicago. In a number of suburbs Latinos have found themselves in conflict with longer-standing white residents around issues of housing and crime. Local conflict over enforcement of immigration law probably represents the conflation of language and racial difference with concern over immigration.
Closely related to race relations is the integration of immigrants. Differences in language, culture, and religion are often manifested in conflicts over housing, education and public safety.
Like most large urban areas, Chicago exhibits problems of social integration apart from racial differences. Evidence includes low election turnout and fewer social networks through civic engagement than those seen in smaller, more rural and less mobile places.
Chicago is likely to be home to an extraordinarily wide array of people of different nationalities and cultures for the foreseeable future. How well its residents succeed in living together will in part determine quality of life, strength of the local economy and public safety. A better human relations environment would likely be visible through:
- Greater residential integration across race, immigration status, income and age.
- Less crime
- Higher measures of happiness/subjective well-being.
- Higher participation in local governance.
- Greater participation in community institutions and amenities.
- Lower levels of homelessness, domestic violence and gang participation.
- More interaction among neighborhood residents.
Grant making in Human Relations supports Community Goal #3: Promoting civic and cultural vitality.
Reduced segregation of minority populations, or better integration of minority populations into the social and civic fabric of the community, improved inter-group relations and improved immigrant integration, as demonstrated through:
- Triennial survey indicating consistent improvement in inter-group attitudes, inter-group interaction and personal well-being.
- Decrease in residential segregation of racial/ethnic groups as measured by index of dissimilarity between 2010 and 2020.
- Higher percentage of immigrants acquiring English language skills, citizenship and permanent residency.
The Trust’s objective is to decrease overt incidents of failure of intergroup relations (such as hate crimes, discrimination and residential segregation), and to improve the region’s measures of subjective well-being.
The Trust will conduct a planning process aimed at identifying cost-effective strategies for reducing segregation and discrimination based on race, gender, age and disability, and improving inter-group relations. Most future program strategies will be developed from this work.
The Trust will consider projects resulting in improved integration of immigrant or new racial populations in suburban municipalities. Successful proposals will show some combination of increased residential, economic or social integration, reduction of conflict or related crime and increased civic participation by minorities.
Proposals will be directly solicited from specific organizations. There will be no RFP process in human relations.
Please direct all inquiries to Jim Lewis, Senior Program Officer at