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Rapid Response Logo 4

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. 

ROUND ONE PARTNERS

Click each image to learn more about the organization

360 Nation

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 in partnership with One Million Experiments

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

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

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

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 Mentoring

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.

ChiFresh Kitchen / Urban Growers Collective

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.

ChiFresh Kitchen! | Urban Growers Collective

Circles & Ciphers

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.

Coalition on Urban Girls

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

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

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 & Transformation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Not Me We

A grassroots community organization focused on building community power through tenant, education and mutual aid organizing. Focusing on South Shore and the surrounding communities.

Praize Productions, Inc.

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

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, NFP

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.

Yaameen's Dream NFP

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.

ROUND TWO PARTNERS

Click each image to learn more about the organization

Allen Metropolitan CME Church

A Roseland-based church that has taken a lead throughout the pandemic in providing COVID testing and more recently, rental assistance distribution. Focus is on rent assistance in light of eviction moratorium being lifted. They have partnerships with the Alderman's office and other local health centers.

Life After Justice

Through a three-pronged approach focused on policy driven litigation, economic justice advocacy, and “After Justice” empowerment support focused on mental health, LAJ establishes an ecosystem of support for the release of individuals wrongfully convicted and successful reentry into their home communities. Leadership are individuals from the exoneree community.

The Dreamcatcher Foundation

A survivor founded, survivor driven, and survivor focused nonprofit fighting to end human trafficking in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. They work to prevent the sexual exploitation of at-risk youth and helps them find confidence and stability through education, empowerment, and active prevention.

Unete La Villita

The community development committee of Little Village that organizes community members for just development in order to build and maintain a community that is clean and has good jobs, affordable housing, and quality educational opportunities. They build systems for communicating critical information across the community. They also provide "healing in the park" gatherings for residents.

Watch Guard

An organization that brings the concept of a "village" back to Bronzeville with intentional bystander intervention. Black men patrol and de-escalate 9pm to 1am 7 days per week using presence as a deterrent. The group also mentored dozens of young men ages 13 to 24 for six weeks on Black culture, finance and martial arts. A clinician helped with the young men’s’ emotional awareness and McDonald had them meditating and performing breathing and visualization exercises during martial arts practice.

Make Momma Proud

An organization providing mentorship and educational support to inspire, support, encourage, and help develop youth to fulfill their life goals after they have suffered the tremendous loss of a parent. The organization looks to support children coping with a loss from the passing of a parent or that have and are dealing with a loss of a parent due to other circumstances like incarceration, mental and physical health disabilities, drug abuse, and/or parental abandonment.

Pastor Wayne Fricks / Men of War Ministries

They provide holistic services to people leaving jail and prison. The building has 5 classrooms, a clothes pantry, and a food pantry. They also provide mentorship to help nurture life skills, which went underdeveloped during incarceration.

Forty Acres Fresh Market

A startup grocer specializing in selling high quality fresh produce at a low price. FAFM was founded in response to the lack of fresh food options on Chicago's West Side; they currently operate as a mobile grocery store and host pop-up markets in underserved communities.

Firehouse Community Arts Center

This organization offers year-round, multi-disciplinary cultural arts programming, mentorship, leadership and workforce development centered around the prevention and interruption of violence.

Freshmoves Mobile Market/Urban Growers

Using a bus that has been converted into a mobile farmers’ market, the organization is a “produce aisle on wheels” and works toward closing the food access gap by bringing produce to schools, community centers, churches, and health clinics — places that folks already frequent — to make good food accessible in Black and Brown neighborhoods that have been historically disinvested in.

Gage Park LatinX

A grassroots organization creating a strong sense of community and identity through art, popular education, and direct actions grounded in social justice and mutual aid. The also launched El Mercadito - a free community market that provides culturally reflective food to families.

LetUsBreathe Collective

An alliance of artists and activists organizing through a creative lens to imagine a world without prisons and police. The Collective operates the Breathing Room space, a Black-led liberation headquarters for arts, organizing, and healing on Chicago's South Side. The Collective produces cultural events and direct actions that disrupt oppressive systems, amplify marginalized voices, and serve people and communities most directly harmed by mass incarceration, police violence, and systemic injustice.

S.L.A.Y.

A network of licensed Mental Health Providers. This group of women lead structured discussions on topics of trauma, stress management, purpose, anxiety, social media, and more to promote mental health. This program has been structured to address mental health needs of young girls and teens through the lenses of indispensable cultural, social, and spiritual need for self-love and care.

Young, Black and Lit

An organization that sources and distributes free new children's books featuring Black main characters to children (K-8th grade) at no cost to the youth or their families. They distribute through schools, and send 50-100 books/month to nonprofits serving youth and families.

1863FWD

A social enterprise that advances free will and determination in disinvested communities to make them vibrant and robust, one person at a time. They provide counseling, group work, transitional coaching, and employment support and training to help people gain employment. A focus is to launch entrepreneurs within their respective communities. The organization has received one-time R3 funding to interview community members about violence, impacts, and solutions and would deploy seed funds to impactful and executable ideas.

Acting OutSide

Acting OutSide, a newly formed performance art crew of formerly incarcerated artists, scholars, survivors and healers working to untell myths of incarceration by the creation of healing arts (theater, written & spoken word, media). A primary focus of their work is to create and embody new ways of thinking about mental health, substance use and healing.

Affinity Community Services

A social justice organization serving the needs of the Black LGBTQ+ community with a particular focus on Black women. Affinity works to engage individuals to define and lead community change by working with them to prioritize issues and develop & implement action plans, and creating opportunities to showcase their leadership. Affinity’s work focuses on three intersecting areas: health wellness & safety, education, and civic engagement.

Ayodele Drum and Dance

An organization fostering community from a feminine perspective through the study and performance of diasporic African drum and dance. Ayodele offers classes, workshops, performances, an arts education residency, and a youth program designed to assist young dancers in using creative expression to explore their identities and develop their self image. Student participants learn the fundamentals of African music and dance, as well as build the personal development skills necessary to maintain themselves as fully functional individuals in society.

Black Brown + Breathing

An organization created to provide activists a place to rest and regroup. It is a place to gather, breathe, grieve and celebrate in community, in nature. They host community care circles at Beaubian Woods.

Blue Freedom Project

An organization that provides career opportunities for victims and survivors of sex trafficking and labor trafficking by ensuring that these individuals gain the skills (job application and interview supports), experiences, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through career advancement.

Boxing Out Negativity

A non-profit that works with youth who are highest risk for street involvement. BON provides physical training, civic engagement, team building, and recreational programming at no cost to participants. BON also hosts community anti-violence events, including an annual Street Love Ride. BON runs a street intervention program for violence reduction.

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos

This organization works to build community power on the Southeast Side through organizing workers, helping parents as they navigate the school systems in the area, and tutoring students who oftentimes do not have Spanish speaking teachers. Their current plans include building a community center on southeast side, and expanding their work in legal services and organizing for community cohesion. Recommended by Hilesh Patel for the grief work they are doing.

Chi City Foods

A farm and eco-campus driven by the passion to provide poor and marginalized groups in Chicago with access to fresh produce, and training opportunities in urban agriculture. Their incubator farm was initially located in Altgeld Gardens, a predominantly black community with about 900 occupied units spread across 190 acres. ChiCityFoods was invited by Brave Space to move their operation indoors.

Dion's Chicago Dream

This organization addresses food insecurity and healthy food access - two critical issues in Englewood - by providing a community fridge, events, and direct delivery food boxes through relationships of respect. Their aim is to saturate an expanding radius of blocks to move the needle. Currently, DCD has 300 families on the waiting list for the program and a database with more than 2,000 interested families.

El Paseo Community Garden

This organization is a volunteer ran garden and community space. Their mission is to strengthen environmental stewardship and civic engagement while protecting equitable green space on behalf of the community. Since 2009, the community garden has been enhancing the quality of life for Pilsen residents through community building, stewardship, conservation, placemaking, partnerships, programming, and community gardening.

Giving Others Dreams (GOD)

The organization provides direct re-entry services and holistic support for women who are or have been incarcerated. GOD has a team of system survivors who understand the barriers, health, safety, and wellness needs of incarcerated or formerly incarcerated women and families. After an initial assessment they are connected to direct supportive social services and focus on removing the stigma of seeking mental-health care and support.

Grace Housing Complex

A community development organization that currently provides programming around gardening, food, and community building. They ultimately aim to move into housing. Rapid Response Fund partner Homies Helping Humanity commented on how consistent and trustworthy she's found them as a partner.

Imagine Englewood If

An organization offering various programs that teach local youth and their families healthy living, environmental awareness and positive communication skills. They offer a number of academic enrichment and youth leadership development programs for families residing in the Greater Englewood community.

Lead with Love

A nonprofit community outreach organization led by youth leaders (along with an adult executive director), providing a safe space for young people looking to take action and serve their community. Lead with Love strives to actively address injustices prevalent within disinvested communities with a focus on education, physical health, mental health, and exposure/employment.

Little Village Community Council

Longstanding community organization which does tenant education, immigration support, food donations, clothes donations, and which conducts organizing and mobilizing in the Little Village community. Their 3-person team is rooted in the community – consisting of 2 community elders and a youth organizer.

LIVE FREE Chicago

A local chapter of the national LIVE FREE organization. The primary focus is on eradicating the root causes of violence in black communities on the South and West sides, and mobilizing voters to combat institutional and systemic racism. They also invest in programs and initiatives that build better access to jobs, entrepreneurship, and the alleviation of poverty and discrimination LIVE FREE also runs COVID-19 relief.

Southeast Youth Alliance

A group whose mission is “to amplify opportunities for local youth on Chicago’s Southeast Side and develop the next generation of community leaders." They host events such as block parties, and are committed to establishing an inclusive environment for youth to come together & expand perspectives in the community.

TAN P.O.W.R.

This organization provides direct support and wraparound resources (emotional support, education on navigating DCFS, stability supports to help families be able to keep their children in their home); and for the parents who feel strong enough, they organize them to do policy work.

Telpochcalli Community Education Project

A nonprofit organization that builds community, raises awareness of critical issues (e.g., COVID, evictions processes and tenants rights), and serves basic needs (e.g., distributing food in front of 2 schools every week, paying community vendors to provide produce). They also support single parent homes to stay afloat and find jobs. They aim to start paying the 30 community leaders who operate TCEP on a part-time basis to build the organization beyond Maria's leadership.

Think Outside Da Block

Positive youth development organization that began with hosting events (including Roll in Peace bike ride, which 7th District Police Commander commented correlates to zero complaints in Englewood for the entire day) and evolved based on young people's needs to an 8 week trauma and wellbeing program ("Get Your Mind Right") serving 16 youth in summer 2021. Get Your Mind Right started with music, movies and social issues; and offers opportunities to develop through projects like cycling. They engage a licensed therapist in a group format, as they have found it more effective than individual efforts to overcome stigma and support youth.

Woke Chicago

A non-profit organization working to disrupt inequity in well-being by creating access to trauma-informed movement and mindfulness programs within under-resourced communitis and CPS schools.

Love Unity & Values (LUV) Institute

This organization uses restorative practices infused with “brain-based strategies” designed to reduce the effect of chronic stressors and build healthy relationships among youth, their families, and the community. LUV provides entrepreneurship and behavioral health development services to aide in the development of youth, and meets participants where they are in their emotional and social development.

People for Community Recovery

This organization educates and advocates for policy and programs in an effort to coordinate with local residents on issues of the environment, health, housing, education, training, neighborhood safety, and economic equity.

Living the Dream Youth Development

Living The Dream Youth Development is an after-school/summer program that provides youth grades 6th-12th, in under-resourced neighborhoods of Chicago with athletic mentoring, athletic training, sports tournaments and tutoring. These programs are provided to youth athletes at no cost in an effort to provide youth with a safe space to learn about sports and to excel in their chosen athletics, academics and life!