There are thousands of hyperlocal leaders and organizations in Chicago working to combat systemic inequities every day. Embedded in communities, these leaders and organizations serve neighbors and neighborhoods and are adaptable to meet local needs as they evolve.
Chicago Beyond launched the Rapid Response Fund to support these efforts and their leaders. We wanted to shine a spotlight on their incredible work and simultaneously acknowledge the critical nature of their efforts happening across a broad spectrum of organization sizes and types.
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.
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.
Meet the first round of our Rapid Response Partners
Click each image to learn more about the organization
An organization based out of the West Side of Chicago that emphasizes relationship building, gifts, and talents to promote self-determination in the Black community. 360 nation utilizes education to demonstrate a lifestyle that promotes the positive development of the Black community through the attainment of creative and technical skill sets and a critical race consciousness. 360 Nation’s philosophy calls for returning back to the essence of the human experience, but through a critical lens.
AirGo is a weekly podcast and cultural media hub in Chicago that reshapes the culture of the city and beyond for the more equitable and creative. Through longform conversations with movement workers, artists, rappers, poets, musicians, organizers, and changemakers, AirGo puts Chicago's re-imaginers in conversation and creates a living dialogue-based archive of our creative communities and social movements. AirGo is a sponsored project of Allied Media Projects, a Detroit-based organization that cultivates media for liberation.
Blackroots Alliance is an organization committed to the safety and liberation of all Black people, promoting Black leadership and Black-centered community transformation. They are a capacity-building network that supports institutions that share their vision for Black liberation and they work to dig deep into the pressing issues facing communities while building power to heal and shift society towards greater expressions of Black liberation.
Blocks Together was started by a group of residents in the West Humboldt Park community working to address crime and safety issues. The group responds to the needs of the West Humboldt Park and Garfield Park communities by focusing on Community Health, Prevention, Protection, and Planning/Organizing for the long-term.
Bronzeville-Kenwood Mutual Aid (BKMA) is a grassroots group of neighbors, friends, and families who use mutual aid and exchange principles to address, heal and acknowledge community strengths, gifts, and needs. BKMA is based in the Bronzeville and Kenwood neighborhoods of Chicago.
Brotherhood is designed to address the unique needs and challenges of young men grades 7-12 in the urban context, developing them into men of integrity who will contribute positively to their families, workplaces and communities. Brotherhood addresses trauma, relationship skills, responsibility and decision-making as it relates to personal life, educational success, and manhood.
Burst Into Books' mission is to rebuild our village through advocacy, the arts, educational and family programming. We envision a world transformed by cultural literacy through education. Burst Into Books is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to helping the youth deepen their love of reading by integrating the arts, providing opportunities for them to engage with those connected to the literacy field, and creating a space for them to express themselves. They are invested in supporting the whole family unit in order to establish long lasting change.
ChiFresh Kitchen is part of a collaboration of urban farms, food operators, worker centers, policy advocates, and other community organizations led by people of color on the South and West Sides of Chicago, who come together to promote food sovereignty, racial justice, and equitable food access in the City. Every member of the ChiFresh Kitchen team has the opportunity to share in the governance and profits of the business. The majority of ChiFresh Kitchen’s team live on the South or West sides of Chicago. They have also partnered with Urban Growers Collective to meet emergency food needs caused by the pandemic.
Circles & Ciphers is a hip-hop infused restorative justice organization led by and for young people impacted by violence. Through art-based peace circles, education, and direct action, they collectively heal and work to bring about the abolition of the prison-industrial complex.
The Coalition on Urban Girls is an alliance of individuals, agencies and organizations with the mission to advocate for gender equity and improve the health, safety and wellness of all girls who reside in Chicago. The organization employs a 24-hour care line for girls ages 11-24, who are in immediate danger, in need of gender-responsive services, or trauma care.
Communities In Schools (CIS) of Chicago collaborates with a vast network of community partners to address the priorities of students and families at 175 public schools across Chicago. These community partners offer a range of no-cost programs in areas like academic support, arts and culture, college/career readiness, counseling and supportive guidance, health and wellness, and parent and family engagement.
In the aftermath of COVID-19, CIS has also continued to provide direct assistance, in a variety of forms, to students and families in need.
Dream Hustle Code aims to inspire Black and Brown youth’s confidence and interest in CS and Computer Coding Education and show them that creating and shaping technology is possible for them. They believe that all kids should have access and opportunity to Computer Science & Coding Education and ultimately to the Economy.
Equity and Transformation (EAT) strives to uplift the faces, voices, and power of individuals that operate within the informal economy. Part of their strategy includes reimagining the definition of “laborer” through a lens that considers both the history of exclusion of Black workers and the depth of creativity required to thrive within an alternative labor system in a capitalist country. They also work to build bridges between the informal and formal economy for constituents seeking formal employment. EAT primarily applies its strategies to work in the Chicago neighborhoods of Austin, Garfield Park, and Englewood.
Eye Love You is a community-based nonprofit with a mission to empower, develop and provide resources to youth on the South and West Sides of Chicago. They offer a free summer camp that features arts, sports programming, and a dynamic learning environment for youth ages 4-13.
Good Vibes Only provides back-to-school supplies & SAT prep, as well as meals for families and essentials for parents, youth and community. What started as an idea to provide sacked lunches for children has now evolved into an impactful organization for the community.
Healthy Place is a nonprofit organization focused on youth development through agriculture, community service, culinary arts, gardening, and fishing programs. They provide youth with education and training for living a healthy lifestyle while earning a living by way of agriculture.
Homies Helping Humanity (H3) is organized by a group of friends with the common goal of helping people. They produce kits with warm wear, first aid kits and sanitary products to hit the streets with, providing reusable bags with over a dozen items to those experiencing homelessness on the south and west sides of Chicago. H3 has grown as an organization, now doing monthly fresh food and produce drop offs in the Roseland community and other neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago, already giving away over a ton of produce and hundreds of hot meals.
Hood Heroes is a community program that reinforces social and emotional health, work ethic and community ownership with teens on the west and south side of Chicago. Alongside of mentors, teens are employed throughout the summer to beautify their community, discuss vision for their community and lead as examples for their community.
In Diamond's Hands was founded by Englewood resident, Diamond Coleman, to provide high-quality 1:1 tutoring to under-resourced students who face many systemic barriers to achieving educational success. The program has started in one public school and was able to produce significant academic growth for participants. Individualized tutoring provided by the program has been essential because of the learning loss that COVID and remote learning have generated.
Jehovah Jireh programming is run out of a community church in the Austin neighborhood. They work to meet a wide range of community needs, including violence interruption efforts. This summer Jehovah Jireh expanded their mobile food pantry, ran pop-up community events, and provided youth with a stipend to work through the summer.
Men Making a Difference is a block-by-block grassroots organization run by dedicated community members, Charlie Wilson and Robert "Rock" Calhoun. The group’s mission is to combat violence and to build programs to ‘restore’ people to the community, based off the principles of restorative justice.
Praize Productions is focused on arts enrichment infused with education and social programming for youth on the South Side of Chicago. Students receive rigorous artistic training at affordable rates, are aligned with influential mentors, and obtain professional performance opportunities throughout the arts community.
Safe & Sound is an arts-centered, youth-driven, Community Benefits Organization that emphasizes youth leadership and youth voice as a means of responding to some of society's most difficult challenges. We utilize a trauma informed approach to addressing topics such as education, community and domestic violence, sexual assault, homelessness and more.
Our Vision: To live in a world absent of harm.
Our Mission: To create a culture of genuine concern through the activation of young voices.
Our Cause: We are driven by the belief that the humane response to hurt is help.
Sista Afya Community Care builds sustainable mental wellness communities through providing affordable and culturally-centered community mental wellness care and education. Sista Afya Community Care provides free individual therapy, community workshops, wellness classes, and professional development to women of color in the Chicagoland area.
Yameen’s Dream NFP is designed to provide for, support, encourage, protect and educate Chicago youth who are often overlooked. They aim to drastically decrease the drop-out rate in our schools, exponentially increase academic excellence, limit gang activity, provide grief counseling, therapy for multiple traumas, mental and emotional support, real-life role models, and expose youth to the city and world beyond their daily environments. By focusing on the youth population, Yameen’s Dream is hopeful to inspire and essentially save families, neighborhoods and communities.