Chicago Beyond, an impact investor that backs the fight against the inequities pervasive in Chicago’s communities, today announced its partners in the Rapid Response Fund, a new fund designed to bolster community solutions strategized and led by the abundance of Black and Brown leaders in Chicago. Chicago Beyond’s Rapid Response Fund quickly mobilized unrestricted dollars to more than 25 hyperlocal organizations and individual efforts fighting for a better future for Chicago’s young people and communities, targeting those greatest in need. 

The goal of the fund is to quickly mobilize resources for young people and communities to enable hyperlocal efforts to act quickly on opportunities and needs they see, in the ways they determine best. 

“We know that Black and Brown leaders of smaller community driven efforts are often overlooked because they don’t fit rigid funding requirements of foundations,” said Liz Dozier, Founder and CEO of Chicago Beyond. “However, these are the people and organizations that are oftentimes most primed to contribute and move our communities forward.”    

The unrestricted nature of the fund gives organizations the flexibility to do what they deem most critical and impactful for young people, families, and their communities. More than 25 hyperlocal organizations and individuals have received unrestricted funding to support their vital work responding to a variety of opportunities and needs, offering relationships of care, engaging in mutual aid, providing emergency food, supplies, academic and arts enrichment and employment, organizing community events, and contributing to wellbeing and joy. Rapid Response Fund partners will also have the ability to utilize Chicago Beyond’s space in the West Loop and leverage their broader network.    

Prioritization was given to more local organizations that many funders’ requirements may not recognize and have not been connected to funding in the past. The Chicago Beyond Rapid Response Fund is in direct response to the inadequate attention given to the countless organizations building impactful movements on the ground across Chicago.     

“This means so much, especially for smaller organizations that don’t have all the requirements that funders sometimes want in order to give us funding,” said Rhonda Yameen, Founder and Executive Director of Yaameen’s Dream. “This is the largest donation we have ever received, and it has meant so much for our youth and our summer program.”    

Leading up to the creation of the Rapid Response Fund, it was evident that there was an abundance of Black and Brown community leaders shaping community responses to the moment but reaching them called for deep community ties and trust. To shape what was important to fund and reach these leaders, Chicago Beyond was advised by a People’s Assembly – a group made up of committed Chicagoans who offered ideas, advice, and suggestions on individuals doing invaluable block-by-block work in their communities that often go unnoticed and unfunded. The People’s Assembly played a crucial role in recommending organizations that received funds as a part of this initiative.    

The organizations and leaders within Chicago Beyond’s Rapid Response Fund include:

  • 360 Nation  
  • AirGo’s partnership with One Million Experiments  
  • Blackroots Alliance  
  • Blocks Together 
  • Bronzeville-Kenwood Mutual Aid 
  • Brotherhood Mentoring 
  • Burst Into Books  
  • ChiFresh Kitchen / Urban Growers Collective  
  • Circles & Ciphers  
  • Coalition on Urban Girls  
  • Communities In Schools  
  • Dream Hustle Code  
  • Equity & Transformation  
  • Eye Love You  
  • Good Vibes Only  
  • Healthy Place  
  • Homies Helping Humanity  
  • Hood Heroes 
  • In Diamond’s Hands  
  • Jehovah Jireh  
  • Men Making a Difference  
  • Not Me We  
  • Praize Productions, Inc.  
  • Safe & Sound  
  • Sista Afya Community Care, NFP  
  • Yaameen’s Dream NFP 

Organizations can use the funding to quickly respond to needs they see. Examples of the fund’s use include:  

  • ChiFresh Kitchen: The worker-owned cooperative created to provide freshly cooked meals to families experiencing food insecurity will be able to continue their emergency food distribution in partnership with Urban Growers Collective, providing 1,000+ meals per week to Chicagoans;    
  • Bronzeville-Kenwood Mutual Aid: The place-based mutual aid network that services the Bronzeville/Kenwood neighborhoods on a weekly basis is sharing funds with community members who are facing eviction, debt, food insecurity, and healthcare issues;   
  • Good Vibes Only: The organization, which acts on community feedback, is providing back to school supplies and backpacks, SAT prep, and community events focused on delivering Chicago Public Schools students a strong start back to school;   
  • Sista Afya Community Care, NFP: The social enterprise that provides low-cost mental wellness services and centers the experiences of Black women will continue providing subsidized 1:1 ‘Thriving Therapy’ sessions to those who need it; and  
  • Yaameen’s Dream NFP: The youth development organization that runs events for children who are affected by gun violence, those who have been removed from their biological family, and children who are from neighborhoods heavily impacted by violence continued their ‘Safe Summer’ events work which helped with extra programming for the youth they serve.

Throughout 2020, Chicago Beyond stepped up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and supported the young people of Chicago during growing unemployment and an uptick of city-wide violence through its Going Beyond Initiative – focused on getting food, baby supplies, hygiene products, and other necessities to communities and individuals in need – as well as quickly deploying funding to hyperlocal community organizations taking action and fighting for a more equitable future for Chicago’s young people and communities.  

Recently, Chicago Beyond launched the Chicago Beyond Holistic Healing Fund, to provide sustained support for holistic healing for Chicago’s communities battling trauma from physical, emotional, social, and structural harm.   

To explore and learn more about Chicago Beyond’s Rapid Response Fund, click here. To learn more about Chicago Beyond’s continued work in the fight for equity for all young people so they can reach their full potential, click here.