Acting Up Awards

Acting Up awards logo

Each year, On the Table brings together excited and passionate community members who share their ideas, hopes and the ways in which they want to make a difference on a local level. And following On the Table, we want to help make those creative and actionable ideas come to fruition.

Launched in 2016, the Acting Up awards provide On the Table participants with small prizes to help them implement their ideas, work together and take action for the public good.

The Acting Up awards are made possible by The Chicago Community Trust in partnership with Goodcity.

  • 2018 Acting Up Winners

    In June 2018, The Chicago Community Trust announced the 37 winners of the third annual Acting Up awards. From 200 submitted applications, these projects were selected from all across the Chicagoland region, focusing on a wide range of issues including education and youth development, community engagement, health and wellness, arts and culture, food access and more.

    For the first time, an award category of $5,000 was offered this year for projects proposed by nonprofit organizations, in addition to the $1,500 and $2,500 awards available to individuals, community groups or nonprofits looking to make change, big or small, in their neighborhoods.

    $5,000 Winners

    • After Prison, Now What? Community Advocates – Westside Justice Center will develop a community advocates program, where they will train individuals who are looking to volunteer their time to help those reentering society following incarceration.
    • Belmont Cragin Art Walk – Onward Neighborhood House has partnered with local businesses to plan a community art walk this fall – murals and pop-up exhibits will generate a positive community spirit and increase the connection between local commerce and the community.
    • From the Porch of Gwendolyn Brooks – The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame will host two events at Brooks Park where children who have been mentored by local writers and educators can share their work.
    • Get Cleared – The Monroe Foundation and community activists will mobilize and transport 100-250 ex-offenders to the Chicago Police Department Headquarters on 35th & Michigan to apply for their “rap sheets,” and connect them to advocates and resources that will help break the cycle of recidivism and become productive citizens of society.
    • Get Free Arts Project – Starting this fall in East Garfield Park, ArtReach Chicago will provide materials and art instruction for 10 weeks of free programming in ceramics, glass and textiles for individuals of all ages and all art abilities.
    • Growing Citizen Leaders – This summer, Imagine Englewood if… will engage local youth to develop and implement a marketing campaign called #LeadFreeEnglewood, in an effort to increase awareness of the dangerous levels of lead in the neighborhood and its potential health consequences.
    • Help Us Amplify Our Impact! – To continue to bring residents together, the McKinley Park Advisory & Development Councils will purchase a small battery-powered amplifier for park events; create a mural to highlight a local playground; and provide Spanish and Chinese translators at Park events.
    • Housing-FORU – Friends of Recovery, United (FORU) will provide free, temporary home recovery services to eight individuals in problem-solving courts after they complete treatment. FORU will also match the grant and provide services for an additional eight individuals.
    • Hunger Awareness Music Video / PSA – The Chicago Children’s Theater (CCT) in the West Loop, in partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, will collect donations for the Depository, provide opportunities for youth to volunteer and create a music video style PSA featuring youth alongside CCT actors to raise awareness of hunger.
    • Kids in the News – Partnering with Already Always Amazing and NBC University, this project will give 25 youth an opportunity to share their voice and express their ideas by learning how to produce informative content that will air on Chicago’s CAN-TV television station and the internet.
    • Kitchen Possible Programming – Through weekly volunteer-run cooking lessons, in partnership with Breakthrough FamilyPlex, Kitchen Possible will work with low-income kids in East Garfield Park to develop their confidence and sense of control. The grant will cover equipment and supplies for the duration of the program.
    • L.E.A.R.N. (Lead, Excel, Accomplish, Recognize, Nourish) – Breaking the Chains will conduct two summits in the Englewood communities to engage youth in resume writing, interviewing, financial literacy and more. These summits will give youth the chance to help expand and develop an educational curriculum that will be implemented in nearby schools and organizations.
    • More Than Just a Backpack
      – In partnership with Good News Partners shelter in Rogers Park, students of Monster Education Foundation will provide youth at the shelter $50 for completing preassigned chores and provide backpacks and school supplies to youth. They will also implement a “Good Grades Incentive Program” and goal-setting workshop.
    • NP Showcase – The Not-for-Profit Showcase will highlight the great work of 30 nonprofits of all different types across Chicagoland by creating six segments on CAN-TV television station and the internet.
    • Opening Doors to Change – This initiative will provide information that helps immigrants in the Chicago Lawn community to increase their understanding of public safety, education and immigration.
    • Operation Warm & Healthy – Operation Warm and Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness will pilot a program that connects disadvantaged families in Joliet with a local health clinic by gifting winter coats to families who visit the clinic.
    • SELF-CARE – This initiative will provide a series of self-care mini-retreat experiences to increase the capacity of a goal-focused advisory group of African-American school principals and parent leaders who are part of the AG GOLD initiative of the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation.
    • South Side VR Kids – The program will give youth from different communities the opportunity to learn more about all aspects of virtual reality in a safe space in Bronzeville during July, one of the most violent months in the city.
    • Stronger Together Youth Summit & Mentoring Fair – This project will convene high school girls from across the City to discuss topics such as being a good friend, how to use social media properly and developing leadership skills, all while giving them direct access to local role models and mentoring organizations.
    • Taking Pride in the South Side – Global Girls will engage 100 residents to tell their ‘South Side stories’ and will create a video to show the positive attributes of the area. The video will be shown at a block party where all video participants, aldermen and business representatives will be in attendance.
    • Tales from the Table: Connecting Through Food – Pilot Light will implement projects in Englewood, Bronzeville and Hyde Park – each tailored to the neighborhood’s unique strengths/needs – to connect neighbors and solve community problems. Projects include wellness activities, such as healthy meal assembly, cooking classes and community gardens.
    • Teacher 2 Teacher – The Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange will set up a workshop series for teachers to inspire them to empower students to be creative problem solvers using materials at hand. They will demonstrate environmental stewardship and make connections with businesses and each other.
    • Word Play Way 2.0 – This initiative will create a giant word search on a sidewalk in Douglas Park that will contain a community-driven poem to help promote literacy, community engagement and poetry as a form of creative expression.
    • Youth Advocates – Youth Advocates in Austin will foster dialogue among youth on the health issues affecting them and their peers and create policy recommendations, while receiving advocacy training, in preparation for a presentation of their recommendations to local and state policymakers.

    $2,500 Winners

    • Building Unity in the Adult Education Community – Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition will host a series of field trips to the National Mexican Museum of Art, the DuSable Museum and the Chinese American Museum so adult learners can build a community in Chicago’s racially segregated neighborhoods.
    • Character Plays/Assemblies – A.O. Marshall Elementary School in Joliet will produce stage productions of skits and stories to teach character traits that will be performed by students.
    • DiasporaX, Making & Connecting Communities – This project will present a series of events in Latinx communities in Chicago, where participants discuss and make art around Latinx experiences.
    • Empowering Southside LSCs – Transforming Communities – Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education will host events to train and empower south side Local School Councils.
    • Hack The System – #FosterCare – The Department of Child and Family Services will work directly with youth in their care to host a one-day summit that lets them play a role in informing solutions to improve their time in foster care and increase access to opportunities upon leaving.
    • HELIUM Health Education – HELIUM (Health Education for Low Income, Undocumented & Minorities), a student-run organization that strives to provide health education to young students in lower socioeconomic regions of Chicago, will host a health fair in Albany Park this fall.
    • Language Equity – Medicaid Access for Immigrants – Limited English proficiency often serves as a barrier that prevents families from accessing health coverage. University of Illinois at Chicago, ICIRR and immigrant community organization partners will provide trainings and materials to help navigate the health care system.
    • Tech Prep Labs – Creating Future Techies – Tech Prep Labs, Inc. will develop technology-based resource centers that will have free technology training for more than 100 students of all ages living in the Roseland community area.
    • The W.O.W. Project – Partners will host a number of workshops, a summit, as well as develop resources to educate about mental health challenges, specifically depression among women and girls.
    • What to Do When a Loved One Is Arrested Project – This project will offer materials to train key community stakeholders on the steps to take after someone in the community has been arrested.
    • Young Women of Worth – This project will develop an after-school mentoring program to empower and uplift young women – building self-confidence, and equipping them with tools and knowledge that they need in order to excel academically and emotionally.

    $1,500 Winners

    • Back Alley Glitz – Prosperity House will clean alleys in their West Woodlawn neighborhood to make it a safer space to live and play.
    • Community Exchange Market at Oriole Park – The community-run market will connect people through an exchange of volunteers, ideas, music, skills-building opportunities and used items.
  • 2017 Acting Up Winners

    In the weeks following On the Table in 2017, The Chicago Community Trust received nearly 300 video submissions describing actionable ideas for projects or activities that could make a real impact on the region’s communities.

    With the help of Goodcity Chicago, the Trust convened a selection committee of 25 community leaders and activists who reviewed and evaluated the submissions, and made recommendations for the second annual Acting Up awards. On June 28, we were excited to announce that 71 of those ideas received awards of more than $135,000, to help neighbors take action.

    Click the links below to watch the short video submissions that pitched these Acting UP winning projects.

    $2,500 Award Recipients

    • A Family Unity Biking
      To combat the issues of gang violence, community fragmentation and stress, Universidad Popular will host a Family Bike Out in Little Village to unite people in the community.
    • A Sense of Place
      Create a video featuring the story of the Old Soldiers’ Widows Home in Maywood – currently being considered for the National Register of Historic Places.
    • A Vision for Washington Heights
      Fund a two part discussion series hosted by a local business owner discussing the challenges and solutions facing their community that will inform a comprehensive strategy to be delivered to the local alderman.
    • AeroStar Aviation Exploration Program Grades 5-8
      The AeroStar Aviation Institution will introduce science and technology to low-income elementary and middle school students through field trips, drones, expert speakers and simulation programming at the Harold Washington Cultural Center.
    • Anti-Racism Training on the Near North Side
      Fund a one-day training entitled “Introduction to Systemic Racism” at Fourth Presbyterian Church, open to church members and staff.
    • Art Xellence Pilot Summer Program
      An after school and summer program in Englewood and Austin aimed to reduce teen violence and recidivism through arts programming, while preparing youth for the workplace.
    • Bridging the Divide Between the Police & Community
      ABJ Community Services will produce a spoken word and musical soundtrack for the independent film, “Bridging the Divide,” which highlights the divide between the city’s 3rd District police and the surrounding community.
    • Building Peace in Joliet Schools
      Basic and follow-up trainings in restorative practices that will be used to educate Joliet teachers at the University of St. Francis.
    • Cannabis On The Table
      Hue Platform will create educational and entertaining short films to help answer frequently asked questions about the use of medical cannabis by minorities.
    • Chasing23 Mentor Drive
      Recruit college students to serve as mentors to students from Wendell Phillips Academy High School.
    • CIS Student Advisory CounSEL
      Communities in Schools will launch its first-ever Student Advisory Council to talk about ways to use their voice at the school and community level.
    • Creative Chicago Swap Circle
      Establish a citywide creative reuse program led by the Chicago Creative Reuse Exchange that connects surplus materials from local businesses to teachers who could use them in the classroom.
    • Edgewater Public Art Initiative and Maintenance
      Continuation of a large-scale public art project in Edgewater – painting murals on neighborhood facades, underpasses and alley walls.
    • Farm to Table Community Program
      Implementation of a farm-to-table program at the Center for Disability Service in Joliet, including an indoor/outdoor classroom maintained by individuals with developmental disabilities in collaboration with community partnerships.
    • Groceryships in Chicago
      Provide funding for a pilot program with families in Humboldt Park – including food and education on the best ways to feed your family nutritious meals on a budget.
    • “Grow & Bike” for Healthy Communities 2.0!
      Girls Bike Club, sponsored by West Town Bikes, will expand its two local gardens with new tools and new plants.
    • GROWing Community Schools
      GROWCommunity will bring together Lake View and Amundsen High Schools to create community gardens with students from their feeder schools and the community.
    • Hairpin Arts Center Latinx Arts Festival
      Sponsorship for the first week of the September festival at the Hairpin Arts Center, including compensation for the artists and marketing support.
    • Joliet Area Little Free Library Community Project
      Installing 12 little libraries for residents who may otherwise not be able to access Joliet’s public library.
    • Kids Compost
      Pilot a program led by Zero Waste Chicago for pre-K students at a Mt. Prospect school, teaching the importance of daily sustainable habits.
    • Latino Arts Research Division
      Engage Latino arts administrators throughout the city in summits that will advance mentorship opportunities, best practice sharing and promote diversity in the arts field.
    • Loving Lawndale to Life
      A series of programming at Carey Tercentenary AME Church to bridge the generation gap and promote community engagement in North Lawndale, including resource fairs, creating of a community quilt, voter registration drives, mentoring and a college fair.
    • Make Way for People on 47th Street
      Provide programming to connect local businesses, artists and youth at the People Spot in the 600 block of East 47th Street to promote walkability and commerce.
    • McKinley Park Development Council
      Fund the formation of a council focused on sparking and supporting economic development in the McKinley Park community.
    • Men Making a Difference Summer Youth Program
      Purchase equipment for the program, including chess boards used to teach participants the basics.
    • Mini Documentaries by Rohingya Teens
      Engage teens through the creation of mini-documentaries showcasing their families’ personal refugee experience at the Rohingya Culture Center of Chicago.
    • Mobilizing Working Bikes in the Community
      Strengthen relationships in communities by hosting follow-up events – maintenance clinics, pop-up events, bike rodeos and more – in places where Working Bikes has distributed bicycles in the past.
    • OG Healing Circles
      I Grow Chicago will train two community members (one youth, one elder) to host a monthly ‘OG Healing Circle’ to promote intergenerational community and share diverse perspectives.
    • Pilsen Community Narratives Podcast
      The Chicago ACT Collective will create a 12-episode podcast featuring stories of community members about the impact of and challenges they’ve faced related to gentrification in Pilsen and Little Village.
    • Scholars With Drive
      CPS students will partner with Lyft on a pilot program to provide safe transportation that gets students to school in time for breakfast.
    • Social Media 101
      The Sydney Epstein Chicago Youth Centers of North Lawndale will host two events to educate youth and their parents about the negative impacts of social media.
    • South Shore Front N’ Center
      Creation of a web-based video blog that will tell the inspiring stories of South Shore business owners – focused the community’s food, arts and entertainment.
    • Surprise For West Humboldt Park
      Our City organization has surprised the New Life Centers of Chicagoland with funds to expand its summer mentoring program by hiring additional mentors and making field trips possible.
    • The Beauty of Peace Project
      Global Girls Inc. will partner with the Eighth Ward to clean up litter, distribute brochures about beauty and host a pop-up theatre show.
    • The Georgia Doty Female & Male Veteran Program
      The Georgia Doty HIV/Hepatitis Outreach organization and Jesse Brown VA Social Services Hospital will provide life skills, resources and support through programming for elder veterans who are homeless or in low-income situations.
    • The Health Club Garden
      The Health Club (for everyone) will plant a community garden on the south side of Chicago and develop a youth program for students to teach them the power of a healthy diet.
    • Too Soon to Forget
      The Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center will translate and include Spanish subtitles for its documentary “Too Soon To Forget,” which features nine families impacted by the disease.
    • U-Turn Permitted Annual Alumni Networking Event
      A number of organizations working together with the North Lawndale Employment Network will host a reunion for U-Turn Permitted alumni, providing networking opportunities, resources and support.
    • Walkable, Bikeable Diversity Fest
      The Southwest Chicago Diversity Collaborative and Beverly Area Arts Alliance will host a daylong event to encourage their car-centric community to bike, walk and experience all the neighborhood has to offer.
    • What Does Justice Look Like Where You Live?
      The Westside Justice Center will create a Community Advisory Council to identify issues of broad concern and ways to address them.
    • Woodlawn Community Summit Youth Poetry Series
      Help fund an event targeting youth in Woodlawn featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tuehimba Jess.
    • Woodstock Co-Working at the Cafe
      Establish a pilot program to provide infrastructure to use the City of Woodstock-owned Stage Left Cafe as a free co-working center.
    • Word Play Way
      The David L. Hoyt Education Foundation in Lincoln Square will install a giant word grid alongside Wells Park to act as a catalyst for literacy outreach.

    $1,000 Award Recipients

    • 1 in 4 Rally for Mental Health Awareness
      Thresholds will organize a rally in downtown Kankakee to raise awareness of mental health issues, share treatment resources and promote recovery.
    • Bees of Buttercup Park Uptown
      Work with youth in the community to create and display at least 200 images of bees in Buttercup Park to pollinate peace with inspiring messages.
    • Bilingual Peer Connect of Chicago
      The Junior Economic Club Youth Council of Chicago will implement a mentoring program for newly enrolled ESL elementary students, matching them with a nearby high school student with a similar background, home language and interests.
    • Brass Band: A Free Community Band Program
      Hyde Park Youth Symphony and Progressive Beulah Pentecostal Church will provide free musical instrument lessons for up to 20 students from Auburn Gresham throughout the next school year.
    • Building Towards Freedom
      A series of events this summer hosted by Love and Protect will raise awareness of the criminalization of survival for black transwomen and gender nonconforming people.
    • Combating Colorism in the Classroom
      Support a local teacher’s colorism unit, including a photo gallery of black-and-white photos at the school.
    • Community Assets Tours for Student Teachers
      Roosevelt University will offer community tours to student teachers who have been placed in urban settings and communities unlike where they grew up.
    • Community Bike Riding
      We Keep You Rollin’ Bike & Wellness Center will purchase repair supplies to recycle bikes back into the community and create a bike box where bikes can be stored for the community to use.
    • Connections
      The John Howard Association will provide Polaroid cameras and film to Illinois prisons so inmates and their families can take a photo together during visits.
    • Embedding Mental Health in Diverse Communities
      National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will launch four new community-specific classes, each with a newly trained teacher, for families living with someone with a mental illness in the Pakistani, Korean, Filipino and Syrian communities.
    • Empowering Through Television Broadcast
      Two nonprofits and a high school student will receive training in TV broadcast from the Chicago Access Network TV (CAN TV) to produce their own programming that tells positive stories for broadcast.
    • Englewood Speaks
      A series of storytelling events will be held in Englewood over the next year with teens, parents, the elderly and other local stakeholders.
    • Feasts of Resistance
      A series of gardening and cooking classes for 40 refugee teen girls, providing them the opportunity to share their stories and learn from one another.
    • Get Global
      Local high school students will create and offer workshops for other teens to hear from experienced professionals about globalization in today’s political climate.
    • “Have Your Say” Youth Leadership
      Events hosted by the Renaissance Bronzeville Toastmasters and Englewood Toastmasters Clubs for youth, ages 8-17, to develop leadership and communications skills, culminating with a contest to show off their new skills and have their voices heard.
    • La Salud, Arte y Tradición / Health, Art & Tradition
      A community art exhibit in Little Village or Pilsen to showcase the art of older Latino/a adults and to raise awareness of topics related to healthy aging.
    • Lunch N Learn
      Urban Circle will bring inspiring adult speakers to middle and high schools in Austin once a month for lunchtime conversations to help pre-teen and teenage boys understand values in their lives and their choices.
    • Neighborhood Fruit
      A Pilsen teacher will bring students together to paint a mural representing health and wellness and initiate conversation on these topics.
    • Owens Male Mentor Program
      Program will provide 30 low-income students at Owen Scholastic Academy with mentoring and social skills for facing conflict and confrontation.
    • Pop-Up Resource Fairs for the Homeless
      Kickstart fundraising for a series of pop-up events providing resources for the homeless in Logan Square, hosted by Church of the Spirit.
    • Southside Dads’ Conference
      A conference for fathers in the Woodlawn, Englewood, Garfield Park and Hyde Park neighborhoods to focus on social-emotional skills, job resources and more.
    • Supporting Black Business
      A three-part marketing and branding workshop for 20 black business owners from South Shore, Woodlawn and Grand Crossing.
    • The Dream Investment Project
      Teach financial literacy to a group of ten high school sophomores in Austin, introducing the young adults to the stock market and how securities work.
    • The Telling Project: Embracing Veterans
      The Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute will engage “The Telling Project” to recruit and train veterans to tell their stories on stage and put on six performances.
    • Warming the Hearts & Minds of Chicago Children
      In October, 150 children will receive a new winter coat and two new books to read at libraries in underserved neighborhoods of Chicago.
    • Washington Park Empowerment
      In an effort to combat violence, cards with #RespectLife will be created and distributed door-to-door for homes in the neighborhood to display.
    • Wellness Management in Urban Communities
      Host ‘RXercise’ exercise and health programs for youth and seniors at community centers and churches in Englewood.
    • Young & Dumb (WE Youth Council)
      Junior male students from Kenwood Academy High School will participate in monthly conversations with adult men from their community and will also create a YouTube channel to host interviews with men about the “dumbest” things they did as a teen, and explain how viewers can learn from them.
  • 2016 Acting Up Winners

    Over the course of the three weeks following On the Table in 2016, The Chicago Community Trust and Goodcity Chicago received nearly 400 video submissions describing actionable ideas for projects or activities that could make a real impact on the region’s communities.

    A selection committee of 30 community leaders and activists reviewed and evaluated the submissions in late June. In July, we were excited to announce that 64 of those ideas received $1,000 awards for implementation through our inaugural Acting Up initiative.

    Click the links below to watch the short video submissions that pitched these Acting UP winning projects.

    West Side – Chicago

    Southwest Side – Chicago

    South Side – Chicago

    Northwest Side – Chicago

    North Side – Chicago

    Downtown – Chicago

    Chicago – Suburbs