BACKING THE FIGHT FUND
INVESTING IN BOLD ACTIONS FOR BLACK AND BROWN LIVES
Chicago Beyond launches the Backing the Fight Fund to stand in solidarity with organizations working on the front lines of Chicago’s communities. The Backing the Fight Fund is designed to quickly deploy resources to hyperlocal community organizations taking action and fighting for a more equitable future for Chicago’s youth and communities.
The Fund is a direct response to the current crises that are having a disproportionate impact on Chicago’s Black and Brown communities.
Key characteristics of the Backing the Fight Fund include:
- Supporting smaller and emerging community-based organizations led by People of Color, with the relevant lived experiences to shape and design innovative approaches to support their own communities
- Providing unrestricted funding, allowing community leaders who best know how to respond in this moment to move freely to do their critical work
- Focusing on organizations that are serving communities in the City of Chicago that are hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic
The initial 12 organizations supported by the Backing the Fight Fund are taking a variety of creative approaches to meet the needs of the communities they serve – including reshaping the narrative of Black Chicago through journalism, increasing neighborhood safety, youth-led organizing, distributing necessities and resources to thousands of immigrants, seniors, young people, and those undocumented, and racial healing circles amongst Black and Brown communities on the South and West Sides. Approximately 75% of the organizations operate with a budget under $250,000 annually.
They have had to pivot their work and respond to what has become a triple pandemic: the spread of COVID-19 across neighborhoods exposed to historic disinvestment, police and gun violence, and a downturn in economic opportunity leading to an even greater loss of resources and jobs.
“To help combat the disproportional impact of this triple pandemic, more funds need to be directed to communities in a way that is flexible and responsive,” said Liz Dozier, Founder & CEO of Chicago Beyond. “The bold action any impact investor, social impact organization, and foundation can take is to actually step back and let community leaders do their work. Chicago Beyond has always invested in power-building within Chicago’s communities, and now it is even more imperative that we deploy resources to hyperlocal organizations already taking action with leaders who know best for our youth and our communities.”
Read our full press release here, and meet our new partners, below.
BACKING THE FIGHT FUND PARTNERS.
Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ+ Center dedicated to creating and providing affirming, culturally competent, for-us-by-us resources, programming, and services for LGBTQ individuals on the South and West sides of the city. Brave Space Alliance strives to empower, embolden, and educate each other through mutual aid, knowledge-sharing, and the creation of community-sourced resources as we build toward the liberation of all oppressed peoples. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brave Space Alliance launched a Crisis Food Pantry and has served over 30,000 individuals in the LBGTQ community on the South and West Sides of Chicago.
A grassroots organization committed to creating strong sense of community and identity through art, information, education, social justice, and direct positive actions, founded and run by long-time young residents. Gage Park, a predominantly Latinx, Spanish-speaking, and immigrant community was amongst the neighborhoods most impacted by COVID-19. GPLXC saw first-hand the devastation to the community and mobilized quickly to care for and assist the community’s most vulnerable. Throughout the past six months, GPLXC has organized a mutual aid fund which has financially assisted over 100 undocumented families, provided PPE and baby care items, and fed over 700 community members. The youth programs have gone remote to continue to engage youth in literacy and art that is culturally competent while they are at home, and will continue youth programs throughout the Fall, as well as open a temporary food pantry in the community to combat food insecurity.
Good Kids Mad City is a youth-led organization formed to allow Chicago’s youth to address violence they face in their communities and create healing spaces for young people affected by trauma. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, GKMC has been coordinating food and safety equipment distribution for communities, in addition to organizing mass demonstrations for social and racial justice and neighborhood cleanups.
Girls Like Me Project supports young Black girls by critically examining social, cultural, and political ideologies in media to overcome stigma and negative stereotypes and helps young black girls become independent digital storytellers and change agents. The current reality of navigating a world amid COVID-19 and pervasive social injustice proves the mission of Girls Like Me Project necessary. Young black girls absolutely deserve to have their social-emotional wellness as a priority. In the midst of shelter in place orders, the Girls Like Me Project pivoted to convert their programming into virtual spaces. Their offerings have included storytelling, gardening, soap making, fitness, yoga, meditation and so much more. Where before they were physically limited to cohorts of 30 girls, virtual programming has allowed them to serve thousands of young girls and their families.
Jehovah Jireh #1 Outreach Ministry is a church beyond walls that provides outreach, meditation, general community support, and hyperlocal violence interruption efforts in the Austin community. They are focused on hyperlocal violence interruption and led the #1STV (#1 Stop the Violence) Campaign to end violence in Westside neighborhoods. During the pandemic, they continue to lead violence interruption efforts in Austin, while distributing food boxes to local neighbors, seniors, young people, and those experiencing homelessness.
Pilsen Neighbors Community Council organizes, engages and activates people and resources to positively address community issues facing Pilsen- most notably in the areas of education, housing, healthcare, social justice and immigration reform. For more than 60 years Pilsen Neighbors Community Council has served as a resource and advocate for the Pilsen community. During the pandemic, Pilsen Neighbors Community Council serves as a hub to meet basic needs for the Pilsen community, engage in efforts to reduce racial tensions during protests, conducts census outreach, and provides assistance to families and individuals in the community that are underrepresented, immigrant, unemployed, and seniors.
Roseland Community "Good News" Day Care provides child-care for high school, college and low-income working moms in a safe, nurturing Christ-centered environment, allowing young mothers to go to school, work full-time essential jobs, and provide for their children. During COVID-19, they have served as a critical community pillar by providing support services for low-income essential, front-line workers including operating childcare at limited capacity upon the state’s reopening.
Sista Afya Community Care builds sustainable mental wellness communities through providing affordable and culturally-centered community mental wellness care and education. The non-profit arm of the social enterprise Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness, Sista Afya Community Care provides free individual therapy, community workshops, and professional development to people in the Chicagoland area. Throughout the pandemic, Sista Afya has addressed increased traumatic stress by increasing support groups focused on anxiety, racial traumatic stress, and depression.
Teamwork Englewood is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of life of the residents and stakeholders of Englewood with economic, educational, and social opportunities. Teamwork Englewood has been providing critical services for families in need, learning supports for youth in the community, workforce supports for out-of-work residents, COVID-19 information and testing centers dissemination, and census collection efforts. To date, Teamwork Englewood has serviced over 3,000 families with food support, gave over $75,000 in cash assistance to families, and has organized new supports for parents and families in the community.
Telpochcalli Community Education Project (Tcep), mobilizes youth and adults for social justice work by building individual capacity, collective power, and mutual responsibility through culturally relevant and community-directed education, leadership development, and organizing. During COVID-19, Tcep created intergenerational safe spaces to unpack and hold open conversations about anti-blackness, colorism, the protests, and building community. A series of racial healing circles with community youth and adults and organizational partners were convened as Tcep keeps engaging in solidarity everyday practices. Tcep has also been responding to the basic needs of community members including distributing food boxes to those with the greatest need and the least access.
The TRiiBE is a digital media platform showcasing innovative content to reshape the narrative of Black Chicago. Their original works in journalism and documentary, alongside creative writing and video, capture the multifaceted essence of Chicago’s Black communities. As an independent, alternative news source, The TRiiBE hopes to unify Black Chicago in the common purpose to create a safer, more vibrant Chicago.
Youth Peace Center of Roseland is a nonprofit organization offering youth related workshops that mentor and teach teens the skills necessary to avoid conflict and violence. They work with the highest risk individuals and provide outreach and wraparound services for men and their families when they are most vulnerable and most likely to shoot or be shot. Throughout the pandemic, they have been providing support to highest risk individuals, including violence interruption work in the Roseland and Southside communities.