Mass shootings. Deadly violence in neighborhoods. Unfortunately, these headlines too often dominate our daily newsfeeds. It is reasonable to feel overwhelmed and powerless to help ease or prevent such suffering and loss. What can an individual do to help make a difference?
Fortunately, community foundations provide responsive leadership and opportunities for collaborative generosity to make a positive impact when local communities face tragic circumstances. The El Paso Community Foundation established the El Paso Shooting Victims’ Fund in the wake of the mass shooting at a local Walmart on August 3. The Dayton Foundation set up the Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund following the attack in its local entertainment district on August 4. These funds make it possible for everyone, from the local community and around the nation, to donate and ensure that their contributions reach organizations best equipped to respond to immediate pain and suffering.
Many metropolitan areas fortunate enough to evade the misery of mass shootings still face the ongoing peril of violence in their cities. In Chicago, despite concerted efforts by the police, mayor’s office and nonprofit and faith leaders, gun violence continues to devastate families and neighborhoods every day. In 2016, The Chicago Community Trust joined with the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities, a coalition of more than 40 philanthropic organizations, to form the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, supporting neighborhood activities designed to stem violence and promote safety and peace. In 2019, more than 180 grants totaling $1.1 million helped community leaders provide programs that enhance safety today and help address root causes of violence.
The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities benefits our neighbors in need, while resonating regionally and nationally. We are grateful that a nation of caring individuals shares interest in the wellbeing of our city’s neighborhoods.
Through the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, the Partnership is committed to funding promising, strategic responses to reducing violence. Concerned individuals from throughout the Chicago region have also stepped up and contributed to the Fund. Many support the effort through grants from their donor advised funds.
On August 5, following the devastating events in El Paso and Dayton, a representative from Apple reached out to the Trust to inquire about supporting programs to reduce violence in Chicago. Apple wanted to promote such efforts to its employees through Benevity, a workplace giving platform that promotes employee engagement and positive corporate culture. The Trust has received contributions through Benevity in the past from companies such as Microsoft and Google. Thanks to Apple reaching out, the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities is now listed as a project of The Chicago Community Trust on the Benevity database of registered charities.
The outpouring of support for local tragedies that capture national interest is a testament to the compassion and generosity of the American public. While we all wish that special endeavors were not necessary to respond to community crises, it is reassuring to know that community foundations lead with heart and with resources to connect philanthropy with the opportunity to make a positive impact. The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities benefits our neighbors in need, while resonating regionally and nationally. We are grateful that a nation of caring individuals shares interest in the wellbeing of our city’s neighborhoods.