2021 Q3 Grants Foster Partnerships for Equity

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More than a grant maker, the Chicago Community Trust aims to close the region’s racial and ethnic wealth gap by being a changemaker. Change at this magnitude requires all hands on deck, which is why the Trust is focused on partnerships–both with other funders and among grantees.

In the third quarter (Q3) of FY2021, the Trust made 333 discretionary grants totaling $28,193,526. Read on to learn about Q3 grants that fostered collaboration and leveraged the power of partnerships.

Addressing Critical Needs

Through the Addressing Critical Needs strategy, the Trust supports initiatives that improve the wellbeing of Chicago-area residents so that more people can fully participate in and benefit from regional prosperity. In the third quarter, the Trust focused this strategy on a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation to provide more than $1.6 million in grants to 24 community-based organizations for the Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership. The grantees are providing community outreach, street outreach, and vaccination event services to residents in neighborhoods that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

“Many people don’t trust the vaccine,” said Peggy Davis, the Trust’s vice president of community impact. “These organizations are trusted partners to their communities, and together they are helping encourage more Chicagoans to get vaccinated and stay well.”

Growing Household Wealth

Through this strategy, the Trust aims to increase the share in economic prosperity for Black and Latinx individuals and families. Through two grant initiatives–one focused on equitable homeownership, the other on educating tomorrow’s workforce–the Trust is supporting cohorts of regional changemakers in two areas that are critical to growing household wealth.

The Trust made 12 grants totaling $860,000 to organizations that provide housing counseling and case management services to low- to middle-income Black and Latinx first-time homebuyers. Recipients of the Protecting & Advancing Equitable Homeownership grants are collaborating with one another and last year’s grantees to examine homeownership work in Chicago and nationwide, share best practices, and develop recommendations for philanthropic investments.

“Many of the organizations in this cohort worked very hard to stem the flow of foreclosures following the 2008 recession,” said Davis. “The Trust has been supporting their efforts as a cohort to identify what needs to be done next in terms of increasing affordable housing, stopping foreclosures, and supporting homeownership in communities of color.”

Together with Kinship Foundation, through the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, the Trust also provided nine grants totaling $781,000 to support Bridges to Brighter Futures, which helps create equitable access to good jobs and continued career development. These grants are helping Black, Latinx and low-income Chicagoans who have earned a high school diploma or GED take the next step in their career development. A related set of five grants totaling $885,000 is identifying promising practices in what’s known as “middle skills” career pathway development, such as education and workforce programs that help workers earn certifications that will increase their wages.

Catalyzing Neighborhood Investment

As part of the Catalyzing Neighborhood Investment strategy to revitalize under-invested Black and Latinx communities, the Trust is partnering with Kinship Foundation and the Searle Funds on a multi-year initiative to create a resilient local food economy in the Chicago region. In the third quarter, some 14 organizations received a total of $1.7 million from the Food:Land:Opportunity initiative to provide innovative ways to grow and distribute fresh produce and healthy food while conserving land.

Building Collective Power

In the third quarter, the Trust awarded $235,000 to the Chicago Media Project to establish a Civic Storytelling fund. The goals are to support documentarians of color who are amplifying important stories in their communities and foster a vibrant community of filmmakers of color in Chicago.

“The point of our Building Collective Power strategy is that there are so many people working on the issues we care about, and they have been for a long time. The value of them working together more effectively is that together we can have a greater impact,” said Davis.

Additional Q3 Grants

The Trust also provided 49 grants totaling $1 million to close out the Healing Illinois fund, a statewide racial healing initiative led by the Illinois Department of Human Services. The Trust has been the philanthropic partner administering and distributing this fund, which has provided some $4.5 million grants in total to organizations that are beginning or continuing racial healing and anti-racism work in Illinois.

In addition, nine new grants totaling $885,000 and 11 renewal grants totaling $1.2 million were distributed through the Coalitions for Equity in Wealth Policy initiative. By supporting groups of changemakers working to shape policies that will improve the lives of Black and Latinx residents, these grants cut across the Trust’s Advocating for Policy Change, Growing Household Wealth, and Catalyzing Neighborhood Investments strategies.

Finally, We Rise Together is an unprecedented coalition effort uniting partners from across philanthropy, business, and communities. These partners share one common goal: to accelerate equitable economic recovery for Black and Latinx communities by pooling and distributing philanthropic resources, re-envisioning business practices, and reforming policies to ensure our region invests more equitably moving forward. We Rise Together made $1.25 million in grants in Q3 to strengthen small businesses and spur transformative neighborhood investment.

Davis said this effort is exemplary of the unified approach many regional funders are taking in the wake of the pandemic and racial unrest. “Though foundations were certainly collaborating before the pandemic, especially on equity initiatives, the past year-and-a-half led funders to double-down on working together,” she said.

We Rise Together is also exemplary of the Trust’s goal of engaging the private sector–not only by partnering with corporations’ philanthropies, but also by engaging corporate leaders in making business decisions that will have a significant impact on the region’s wealth gap.

To date, more than $37 million has been committed to We Rise Together. The effort continues to take donations and make grants. Learn more at