Bi-Directional Feedback Leads to Systems & Policy Innovations

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Investing in people is a winning strategy. For over 100 years, The Chicago Community Trust has partnered with local nonprofit organizations to address the most urgent needs of the region’s residents. We have seen the power in providing residents in need of support with quality services throughout one’s lifespan that create pathways to stability and promote overall wellbeing.

While the Trust is firm in its commitment to support direct services, we are also motivated to partner with coalitions and networks in disrupting systems that have caused harm. The Trust is focusing its resources to spark innovations that may lead to policy-level reforms. Sound public policy is informed by data, research, and input from practitioners and individuals most impacted by the respective policies. Likewise, community-based organizations are most effective if they ground their interventions toward systemic change and offer feedback in reforming public policies. Our bi-directional approach to address the Chicago region’s critical needs is both in supporting human services and systems-level change.

This year, the Trust awarded 23 organizations with general operating grants totaling ($2.3 million through a competitive process to advance system and policy innovations in the human services sector). These organizations work in coalition, partnership, or through a membership structure to share best practices and take collaborative action. For example, Illinois Collaboration on Youth conducts policy advocacy at the state and federal levels to ensure that children and youth have the tools and skills needed to thrive, and that the organizations and systems serving them have the capacity and necessary resources to be effective. The organization has expertise in monitoring the state budget and advocating for adequate, equitable resources and investments for Illinois’ children and families. Another grant recipient, the Southland Human Service Leadership Council, serves as a community hub and coordinates human services across a large geography comprising over 60 communities and municipalities on region’s Far South Side.

The core issues that the new Systems and Policy Innovation grant recipients address vary from food insecurity, housing instability, and disparities in access to healthcare, to more broadly, disinvestment in the human service sector. However, all of these grant recipients share their approach in advancing collective power and transferring knowledge to improve the wellbeing of our communities. The long-term impacts under this initiative will increase equity and build capacity in Chicago’s social impact sector—and ultimately benefit the region’s most important asset: its people.

  • Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago ($125,000)
  • AgeOptions Inc. ($50,000)
  • AIDS Foundation of Chicago ($100,000)
  • All Chicago Making Homelessness History ($150,000)
  • Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County ($125,000)
  • Center for Housing and Health ($75,000)
  • Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation ($50,000)
  • Chicago Coalition for the Homeless ($100,000)
  • Corporation for Supportive Housing ($75,000)
  • Forefront ($150,000)
  • Greater Chicago Food Depository ($150,000)
  • Health and Medicine Policy Research Group ($100,000)
  • Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights ($150,000)
  • Illinois Collaboration on Youth ($100,000)
  • Illinois Partners for Human Service ($75,000)
  • Illinois Public Health Institute ($75,000)
  • Latino Policy Forum ($100,000)
  • Metropolitan Tenants Organization ($75,000)
  • Michael Reese Health Trust ($75,000)
  • NAMI Chicago ($100,000)
  • Northern Illinois Food Bank ($150,000)
  • Southland Human Services Leadership Council ($75,000)
  • The Network – Advocating Against Domestic Violence ($75,000)