Our Grantees 2021

Crossroads Fund 2021 Grantees

Crossroads Fund is proud to announce that in fiscal year 2021 (FY21) we gave out $3,392,000 to 201 groups working for social change.

Although the following list categorizes grantees based on one primary focus, grantees’ work is rarely limited to a single issue area. Most work across issues and prioritize the multiple needs of their diverse constituents. A notation after the grantee description indicates from which grant fund(s) they received funding. Funds include the Seed Fund (SF), Technical Assistance Fund (TA), Youth Fund for Social Change (YF), 501(c)(4) nonprofits (C4) and the Critical Response Fund (CRF), which provides rapid response grants to organizations working on issues that arise due to urgent political and social moments. Some organizations also received grants through the Capacity Building Initiative (CBI), a collaborative program that supports organizational growth and development.

Grantees also received funding from our Partner Funds (PF), which include pooled funds and donor advised funds:

  • Anti-Surveillance Network (Anti-Surveillance), a network of technologists and community organizers working to hold government and corporations accountable for its use of technology and data;
  • Chicago Racial Justice Pooled Fund (CRJPF), a funders collaborative housed at Crossroads Fund that supports Black-led community organizing and ally-led groups addressing anti-Blackness; 
  • Eleuterio Fund (Eleuterio), which supports community-based arts, education, peace activism, and reproductive rights;
  • GRAM Fund (GRAM), which supports women and girls, rights for Arab Americans, and youth projects;
  • James Thindwa Fund, an annual event and project in honor of the late activist James Thindwa; 
  • Monica George and Kyle Johnson Fund (MK Fund), which supports community organizing in Chicago;
  • Monica Cosby Fund, which supports community-based organizations working towards a society less reliant on the criminal legal system by creating alternative systems of care;
  • She100, a giving circle that pools resources to make grants to initiatives which strengthen the power and presence of all Chicago LBTQ women;
  • Vernita Gray Fund, (Vernita Gray) which supports LGBTQ+ and youth
  • Anonymous donors

We also list each of the awards we grant at our annual gala, Seeds of Change, by name. They are the Donald F. Erickson Synapses Award, the Lynda J. Tipton Memorial Award for Social Justice, and the Ron Sable Award for Activism.

In FY21, grant amounts ranged from $469 to $50,000. Unless otherwise noted, grants are for general operating support. 



2021 Grantees 
















alt_Chicago is an artist-led organization dedicated to revitalizing communities through art and culture. alt_ provides alternatives to the dominant cultural narratives while manifesting new opportunities in a time of need on the South and West Sides of Chicago. Their sustainable alt_ market is a functional art installation that transforms abandoned spaces into free markets for community members, thus creating a communal shared economy. (SF)


Axis Lab is an arts and architecture organization based on Argyle Street in Uptown. They highlight multidisciplinary art and educational programming to advocate for economic and housing justice for immigrants and refugees. The Critical Response Fund supported community dialogues addressing anti-Blackness to shift understandings of criminalization and policing amongst Asian communities. (CRF)


Bronzeville Black Chicagoan Historical Society is a community-led educational organization preserving and protecting monuments, photographs, and memorabilia of African Americans’ history and culture in Chicago. Currently, they are working toward building a Restorative Justice Center while demanding the removal of Senator Douglas tributes in Illinois and working towards changing revisionist histories on the kiosks at the Douglas Tomb Site to highlight African American narratives. (CRJPF)


Changing Worlds fosters inclusive communities through oral history, writing, and arts programs that improve student learning, affirm identity and enhance cross-cultural understanding. (She 100)


Chicago Palestine Film Festival (CPFF) exhibits and promotes films that reflect Palestine and its culture through the vision of its artists. CPFF is dedicated to presenting a film festival that is open, critical, and reflective of the culture, experience, and vision of the filmmakers. Recently, CPFF celebrated its 20th anniversary and pioneered a digital and drive-in movie format to safely screen films amid the pandemic. (SF)


City Bricks: Report Card Project is a civic art project, consisting of public murals and a documentary film that explores disparities, living conditions, and opportunity amongst low-income neighborhoods on Chicago's West and South Sides. City Bricks empowers community members through civic engagement and action to address the issue of poverty as it relates to racial inequity. (SF)


El Griot & Areito Project decolonizes history by centering Black, Indigenous, and people of color’s stories of resistance and liberation as an act of reclaiming stories, healing, and carrying cultural wealth forward for future generations. (CRJPF)


Free Write Arts & Literacy engages incarcerated and criminalized youth and young adults in the performing, visual, and literary arts to become narrators of their own stories and authors of their futures. By co-designing creative spaces, Free Write supports and develops educational and career opportunities that reduce recidivism. Collectively, they contribute to the public discourse around issues of youth incarceration and to the broader movement to dismantle carceral systems. (CRJPF)


Honey Pot Performance is a creative, Afro-diasporic, feminist collaborative that uses performance to document, interrogate, and examine human relationships including the ways we negotiate identity, belonging, and difference in our lives and cultural memberships. The Chicago Black Social Culture Mapping Project, one of Honey Pot's collaborative programs, preserves Black social and cultural lineages in the Chicago House scene. A Technical Assistance Fund grant supported their fundraising strategy and capacity. (SF, TA)


Illinois Humanities Council programs broaden public involvement in civic dialogue, deepen the quality of community conversation and reflection, increase public access to the humanities by lowering barriers to participation, and bring humanities activities to unexpected places. (Eleuterio)

Mezcla Media Collective provides resources to establish women and non-binary filmmakers of color as storytellers and agents of change in Chicago's media production scene. By creating access to a local network, workshops and convenings, they aim to level the playing field and ensure the film industry is held accountable with permanent change. (SF)

Mobilize Creative Collaborative is an artist collective that utilizes mobile makerspaces to provide free arts workshops as an intergenerational platform for popular education, communal creation, and arts-based organizing. Their practice builds on relationships with various collectives, campaigns, and communities that have experienced deepened inequities during the pandemic and calls for cross-community solidarity amid ongoing struggles for justice on Chicago’s South and Southwest Sides. (CRF)


Perceptions Theatre strengthens the accessibility of theatre to Black communities and works to be an economic and artistic resource for Chicago's South Shore. Perception Theatre offers residents an opportunity to see their own perspective and stories represented onstage, amplifies untold stories, and works to eliminate prejudice and discrimination while defending human and civil rights. (SF)


SoapBox Productions and Organizing utilize video and photography to amplify social movements in Chicago centering on education, entertainment, and structural change. Their work challenges dominant narratives to raise consciousness and critique oppressive systems. A Technical Assistance grant supported an equipment upgrade. (TA, SF, Thindwa, CRJPF)


Son Chiquitos offers decolonized educational programs to strengthen Latinx and cultural identities through language, music, arts, and literature. A Critical Response grant supported programs and direct action confronting anti-Blackness found within Latinx communities. (CRF)


St. Kateri Center of Chicago provides a space for Native American youth and adults to gather, preserve, and deepen their Indigenous identities. Through advocacy and programming, St. Kateri engages with larger Indigenous causes such as challenging offensive school and college mascots. (SF)

The Center for International Performance and Exhibition dba HotHouse presents performances, exhibitions, and cultural events that build diverse audiences, foster international exchange, and support grassroots development and social justice activism. A Technical Assistance grant supported online streaming software during the time when many venues were closing due to the pandemic. (TA, SF)



360 Nation promotes holistic development, and self-determination for the Black community on Chicago’s West Side through critical race consciousness and community-driven efforts. Their "Lil Miracles" mutual aid initiative reclaims vacant spaces to transform communities. (SF)

Action Now Institute (ANI) works for racial, social, and economic justice by educating and empowering their base of working families. ANI creates innovative approaches to solve long-term problems and craft organizing strategies within Cook County’s Black communities. (CRJPF)


The Alliance of the Southeast (ASE) is a membership organization addressing issues in Southeast Chicago. Since the pandemic, ASE has partnered with organizations to support families of essential frontline workers with protective equipment, food, and emergency funds. Their work aims to reduce neighborhood violence, increase educational resources in schools, and set priorities for environmentally and racially equitable developments. Recently, ASE has worked to #StopGeneralIron from relocating to an environmentally overburdened community. (SF, YF, CRJPF)


Co-ops Not Cages (CNC) is a cooperative media collective that promotes local worker co-ops and advocates for holistic approaches to labor and consumption within an abolitionist, anti-carceral framework. CNC builds content and places priority on supporting the labor of oppressed communities, such as BIPOC and prisoners. (SF)


Edgewater Mutual Aid is an autonomous mutual aid network that provides relief to those being affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. A Critical Response grant supported their community-wide grassroots response by crowdsourcing funds, groceries, and supplies for those in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. (CRF)


Equity and Transformation (EAT) is dedicated to creating a democratic society in which Black Chicagoans engaged in the informal economy—activities, enterprises, and jobs not protected by the state—have the resources to change the social and economic conditions affecting their lives. (CRJPF)


Evanston Present and Future educates and empowers individuals, families, and the community to build a better future together. Their Reparations Ambassadors program works to: educate residents on reparations, repair harm done to the Black community, and strengthen the "Community Repair Fund" to ensure the well-being of those facing prejudice or discrimination. (SF)


Feminist Uprising to Resist Inequality and Exploitation (FURIE) is a radical education, and pan-womanist movement-building organization in Chicago. FURIE operates the Red Rag, a food pantry for West Logan Square and Humboldt Park community members. A Critical Response grant supported their mutual-aid efforts while creating a community council and local grassroots campaign to recruit block leaders. (CRF)


Goldin Institute’s Chicago Peace Fellows Mutual Aid Collaborative is a collection of local leaders in Chicago’s South and West Side communities who model a vision of racial justice. They advocate for racial justice in philanthropy, address harms in the criminal justice system, and provide economic development programs. (CRJPF)


Grassroots Collaborative unites ten member-based organizations in Illinois in order to create policy change on local and statewide levels. By bringing together organizations across movements, especially labor and community, they have built a broad and deep base necessary for fighting the corporate interests working against all of our constituencies. (PF)


The Monroe Foundation is a publicly supported not-for-profit community and enterprise development intermediary that seeks to educate, link, and fund community development projects within low-income communities in Illinois. The foundation supports small business start-ups and financing through lending partnerships. (CRJPF)


Nehemiah Group DBA Chicago Eco House works with Black led and allied community groups to organize economic development through urban agriculture to reclaim and repurpose vacant land for the social and economic benefit of Black people. They are a movement for majority-Black neighborhoods to control what happens on their open land for their own economic empowerment. (CRJPF)


Neighborhood Network Alliance (NNA) is a community engagement group that provides resources to block club leaders. In their efforts to create neighborhood networks they are able to tap into the human capital on the block, identify new leadership, and stabilize neighborhoods. This type of engagement positions them to inspire and attract youth to become civically engaged. NNA aspires to be a stabilizing force to transform neighborhoods into nurturing, sustainable, and safe communities that empower residents to thrive. (CRJPF)


Northside Action for Justice is a multi-issue organization on the North Side of Chicago building power for working people to advance campaigns for living wages, affordable housing, and quality public education. Their campaigns work to stop gentrification and displacement in Uptown and Rogers Park through tenant organizing, education, and building resident-led decision making. (CRF)


The People’s Lobby organizespeople across Chicago to build public policies and candidates that put racial and gender justice and the needs of people and the planet before the interests of big corporations and the very rich. (CRJPF)


Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP) is a multi-issue community organization addressing displacement, cuts to public health services, and the criminalization of youth of color in the Woodlawn area of Chicago’s South Side. Recent victories include the removal of police from schools as part of the #CopsOutCPS campaign and the passage of a Community Benefits Agreement near the Obama Center to prevent family displacement. (SF, CRJPF, YF)


The Co-op Ed Center (CEC) builds a restorative economy based on education, solidarity, and collective self-determination. CEC guides worker cooperatives in communities of color that restore and heal communities and focus on people, not profit. Their work builds democratic governance structures and promotes cooperation over competition while addressing the racial wealth divide in Chicago. (SF)


The Uptown & Buena Park Solidarity Network (UBPSN) is a volunteer-led, grassroots group actively sharing resources, ideas, and emotional support in response to the COVID-19 crisis. A Critical Response fund grant supported UBPSN to divest from food corporations and invest in local food sources and promote mutual aid, tenants' rights, and organize campaigns including Defund CPD and the Chicago Tenants Movement. (CRF)


Women for Economic Justice (WEJ) is a network of low-income women-led organizations who are working together to end gender violence and advance economic justice for working-class Latinas, their families, and their communities. The Casa Domitila Barrios Project creates a space for those who lost their jobs in hotels, restaurants, or cleaning services and, in many cases, endure an increase of violence due to the pandemic's home confinement. Additionally, WEJ offers the "Linea Amiga" hotline, healing justice groups, a feminist decolonizing reading circle, and more to advance the principles of solidarity and mutual aid. (SF, GRAM)


Cicero Independiente is a bilingual, independent news outlet that co-creates local news and brings people of diverse media backgrounds together to provide useful information to Cicero, a suburb on the West Side of Chicago. They support the civic engagement of local residents and create a pipeline for young journalists to hold local government accountable and advocate for change. (SF)


Gage Park Latinx Council (GPLXC) is a Queer, DACA, Latinx-led grassroots organization committed to creating a strong sense of community and identity in Gage Park. GPLXC combines art, popular education, and direct actions grounded in social justice and mutual aid. (SF, YF)




Getting Grown Collective (GGC) is an intergenerational group of residents preserving green space in the Englewood neighborhood. GGC uplifts the beauty, history, and sustainability of Black and brown communities by reclaiming vacant property and building reliable food systems through mutual aid and action. (SF)


People for Community Recovery is a community-based organization that addresses environmental racism, the harsh impacts of Chicago Housing Authority policies, and economic inequities in the Riverdale neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. A Technical Assistance grant supported a constituent management system. (TA, SF, CRJPF)



AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) fights for health equity and justice for people living with and disproportionately impacted by HIV and AIDS. The grant went toward an executive directors support group for LGBTQI+ serving organizations. (CBI)


Alliance for Community Services/RPCAN is a community-labor coalition of people with disabilities, low-income families, front-line public service workers, and seniors. They seek to end the privatization of public services while protecting, expanding, and improving Medicaid, SNAP, and Social Security. Recently, the Alliance strengthened Chicago's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program to improve health and safety conditions for long-term care residents and workers through the pandemic. (SF)


Black Girls Break Bread provides social-emotional wellness programming for Black women and girls with a focus on improving overall health and wellness and reducing racial disparities. They align and maximize academic, medical, programmatic resources, and solidify partnerships between local, state, and federal agencies while mobilizing investments for Black women and girls. (CRJPF)

The Black Researchers Collective is a Black women-led organization training and equipping communities with research tools to be more civically engaged and policy informed. The Collective hopes to create a pipeline resource of Black women researchers with increased capacity to inform policy decision-making that impacts their South Side communities. (CRJPF)


The Chicago Coalition to Save Our Mental Health Centers makes affordable mental healthcare accessible to all Chicagoans by creating community-funded and overseen centers like Expanded Mental Health Services Programs (EMHSP). The Coalition aims to create two new EMHSPs in the West Town-Humboldt Park and Bronzeville neighborhoods. (SF)


Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities (FFHC) confronts racism, poverty, and policy that limits relationships between Black fathers and their children. Through training, collaborative partnerships, and advocacy, FFHC creates pathways for men to connect with their children, their families, and their communities. (SF)


Illinois Single-Payer Coalition (ISPC) is an alliance of people and organizations supporting and advocating for a single-payer health care system that is publicly financed and privately delivered to improve Medicare for All. A Critical Response grant supported ISPC's direct action to target the American Medical Association and Blue Cross Blue Shield to address the failures of our health system during a global pandemic. (CRF)


Parents 4 Teachers is a coalition of parents building unity with teachers to forge a just and equitable public school system for Chicago youth. Through solidarity, organizing, and advocacy, they expand campaigns to fight racist school policies, press for progressive school funding, and increase accountability in district decision-making while pushing for a safe reopening of school buildings in the midst of the pandemic. (SF)


People Matter (PM) uplifts, unearths, and untethers people through direct services, political education, and issue advocacy. Their current committees work to preserve affordable housing, improve language access, and tackle anti-Blackness in Chinatown. (SF, CRJPF)

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is a health care provider working to improve women’s health and safety, prevent unintended pregnancies, offer sexual health education, and advocate for individual choice in matters of sexual health and reproductive justice. (Eleuterio)

Race Conscious Dialogues (RCD) helps white people deepen their awareness of identity, power, and privilege with the ultimate goal of developing tools for anti-racism work. RCD unpacks the historical and current harms of white supremacy and channels participants into existing equity efforts in their community. (SF)


Raise Your Hand for IL Public Education engages, informs, and empowers parents to protect and strengthen public education for all children in Chicago and Illinois. They are a coalition of parents and citizens who advocate for quality public education for all children and fight to eliminate inequities in public schools. Recently, they played an active role in the #PoliceFreeSchools campaign to remove cops from schools and dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. (CRF, SF, CRJPF, CBI)


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. A Technical Assistance grant supported leadership development for adult and youth groups to widen their skillsets. (TA)


Ujimaa Medics is a Black health collective addressing racial health disparities and immediate traumas in Chicago's Black community that are the result of centuries of oppression, terrorism, state-sanctioned violence, and generational trauma. They develop leaders across Greater Chicago inspired by health justice organizing, the international street medic movement, and the ongoing Black liberation struggle. They are moving toward the creation of a network of community care responders (CCRs) that are grounded in Ujimaa ("collective work and responsibility") and ethics of solidarity. (CRJPF)


YogaCare supports yoga teachers and leaders in Chicago’s under-resourced communities to promote health, sustainability, and education. The Socially Engaged Yoga Network’s Healing Justice Project aims to strengthen learning and sharing amongst Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities to promote accessibility, community connection, and decolonization. A Critical Response grant supported digital infrastructure during COVID-19 – all while moving towards both racial and healing justice. (TA, SF, CRF)



Blocks Together is a community-led, multi-issue, social justice organizing group dedicated to quality public education, affordable housing, and economic development on the West Side of Chicago. A Critical Response grant-supported Community Health Promoters delivering prevention, protection, and housing resources during COVID-19. (CRF)


Chicago Housing Initiative is a citywide coalition of housing advocacy organizations working with low-income renters to preserve, improve, and expand affordable housing. A Critical Response Fund grant supported the Public Health and Housing COVID-19 Emergency Ordinance (PHO) utilizing vacant public housing units to protect medically-vulnerable individuals and families living in congregated facilities by moving them into stable and long-term housing during the global pandemic. (CRF)


Chicago Housing Justice League (CHJL) is a collaborative of groups organizing for just housing. The League advocates for the City of Chicago’s 5-Year Housing Plan to improve projects, programs, and policies to better the lives of Chicago residents. The CHJL has developed a set of principles to guide the 5-Year Housing Plan and create more equitable housing opportunities across Chicago. (CRJPF)

Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community unites member organizations and individuals to empower Chinese American communities in Chicago through civic education, issue advocacy, policy, and community action. Currently, they are organizing residents living on the Near South Side to protect tenants from displacement and gentrification as properties are slated for redevelopment near Chinatown. (SF)


Garfield Park Community Council (GPCC) is a community-building organization of dedicated residents and allies working to develop leaders and create opportunities and programs that build a vital Garfield Park community. GPCC’s priority areas include housing, business development, wellness, and resident leadership to address persistent inequities and decades of disinvestment on the West Side of Chicago. GPCC supports homeownership, housing affordability, and stability with tenants facing eviction. (CRJPF)


Lift the Ban Coalition is a statewide coalition advocating for rent control and the repeal of the Rent Control Preemption Act - which prohibits local communities from implementing rent control - as a policy option to sustain affordable housing throughout Illinois. Passing the referendum offers a tool for Chicago's economic well-being and access to affordable housing for all. (CRF, Thindwa)

Lugenia Burns Hope Center promotes civic engagement in the Bronzeville neighborhood through education, leadership development, and organizing to preserve public housing and other community-based issues. They participate in coalitions including: Lift the Ban on Rent Control and Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability. A Critical Response grant supported their mutual aid effort, The Hope Project. (CRF, CRJPF)


Metropolitan Tenants Organization is a tenants' rights group that educates, organizes and empowers tenants to exercise their human right to affordable and safe housing. (CRJPF)


The Northwest Side Community Development Corporation (NWSCDC) works with the Belmont-Cragin community to advocate for policy change that reduces housing cost burdens, and preserves affordable housing while tackling the unfair property tax system in Illinois. They work with small businesses, renters, and homeowners toward property tax reforms to address vacant property tax incentives and implement relief for low-to-moderate income people. (SF)


Pilsen Alliance (PA) is committed to creating grassroots leadership and community-driven developments in Pilsen and neighboring working-class, immigrant communities. PA helps to build and support parents, teachers, and youth leaders advocating and organizing for education equity, justice, and democratic representation at the Chicago Board of Education. Their Youth Committee offers space for youth to collaborate through creative expression, political education, and organizing skills to defend their neighborhoods from displacement and tackle issues of injustice. (SF, YF, CRJPF)


Solidaridad Inquilina is a self-governing tenant union group in southwest Chicago that organizes tenants, those experiencing homelessness, and formerly incarcerated people to build power and change living conditions to fight for the human right to housing. (SF)


The Tenant Education Network (TEN) organizes residents and tenant leaders in Project Based Section 8 buildings living in dangerous and unstable conditions to hold the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) accountable to resolve their issues. They aim for residents to build sustainable tenant unions and transform housing over the long term. A Critical Response grant supported organizing for Chicago's Eviction Moratorium and the cancellation of all rent and mortgage payments during the coronavirus crisis. (CRF, SF)




The Black Abolitionist Network (BAN) is a consortium of people and organizations collaborating to dismantle anti-Black and carceral systems and build systems that affirm and nurture Black lives. Their Defund Chicago Police Department (CPD) Campaign demands resources and power be shifted away from CPD and reinvested in community resources like quality, well-funded public schools, mental health centers, housing, and other social services and community institutions. (CRF)


Black Leaders Building Together (BLB2) was formed when eight Black-led groups on Chicago’s West and South sides came together in response to the overwhelming impact of COVID-19 on the Black community. BLB2 utilizes community organizing to build a civically educated and empowered base of Black people in Chicago that will win equitable policy and legislation fights for thriving futures in the Black community. (CRJPF)


Black Lives Matter Chicago (BLM) is an intersectional organization that values Black people and their right to self-determination. BLM fights for justice with families most impacted, while building just and equitable systems. They work to end state violence and the criminalization of Black communities by deconstructing white supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy. (SF, CRJPF)


Blackroots Alliance is a network that builds the research, leadership, communications, legal, campaign, and non-profit management capacity for institutions that share a vision for Black Liberation. (CRJPF)

The Chicago 400 Alliance is a volunteer-led group supporting the Chicago 400 — formerly incarcerated people experiencing homelessness in Chicago who must re-register weekly at Chicago Police Headquarters. The Alliance is working to change lifetime banishment and registry laws creating unjust barriers to housing, travel, and employment. They promote public safety, reduce victimization, support survivors while allowing people with past convictions to meet essential needs and return to full citizenship. The Technical Assistance Fund supported campaign management software. (TA, SF)


Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR) works to fundamentally transform the political structure surrounding policing by giving communities the power to decide who polices them and how they are policed. They do so to end a key component of systemic racism: police violence and tyranny against communities of color. They are currently advocating and organizing for community control of the police through the Empowering Communities for Public Safety Ordinance. (CRJPF)


Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF) operates a revolving bond fund that supports people charged with crimes in Cook County, educates on the role of bond in the criminal legal system, and advocates for the abolition of money bond and other forms of pretrial punishment. CCBF, amongst many others in The Coalition to End Money Bond and Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice, worked to pass the Pretrial Fairness Act to bring an end to wealth-based pretrial incarceration and end the use of money bond in Illinois. (CBI)


Chicago Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) is a prisoner-led section of the Industrial Workers of the World working to end the criminalization, exploitation, and enslavement of the working class. IWOC facilitates the self-organization of those incarcerated through education and strategic action while connecting the struggle of people in prison, jails, and immigrant detention centers to local and global workers struggles. (SF)


Chicago Torture Justice Center (CTJC) addresses the impact of police violence and institutionalized racism through access to healing and wellness services, trauma-informed resources, and community connection. CTJC was part of the coalition that fought and won a historic reparations package for the torture survivors of the late Chicago Police Department Commander Jon Burge. (CBI, CRJPF)


Chicago Torture Justice Memorial (CTJM) works to educate, mobilize, and transform consciousness about police violence and mass incarceration. They aim to honor and to seek justice for the survivors of Chicago police torture, their family members, and the Black communities affected by the torture. Currently, CTJM’s organizing efforts include negotiations with the city to demand investment in the creation of the public memorial per the reparations legislation and build a broader community-based movement of public and aldermanic support for the memorial. (CRJPF)


Chicago United for Equity (CUE) works to build a network of racial justice advocates across Chicago’s civic infrastructure. CUE works with community members and government partners across Chicago to facilitate Racial Equity Impact Assessments, a tool for equitable policy decisions and a model for citywide public accountability. (Anonymous)


Christianaire works to shift the use of force policy by the Chicago Police Department; fighting for more transparency when it comes to misconduct by law enforcement; establishing a civilian-led accountability task force to oversee the enforcement of the consent decree; and advocating for city-funded mental wellness services in Black communities. (CRJPF)


Citizen Advocacy Center (CAC) utilizes community lawyers to engage residents in DuPage County to build democracy through community organizing, coalition building, legal advocacy, civic education, and litigation. CAC works with activists, students, and community members to use their First Amendment freedoms and hold elected officials accountable. The Technical Assistance grant supported the use of their organizational management software. (TA, SF)


Coalition to Decarcerate IL is a group of activists, loved ones of the incarcerated, and formerly and currently incarcerated individuals working to protect the health and safety of those in prison from COVID-19 and end torturous lockdowns in Illinois. The coalition mobilizes and advocates for the rights, conditions, and health of those incarcerated while demanding the release of all people. (SF)

First Defense Legal Aid (FDLA) offers public defense and creates, protects, and engages replicable alternatives to the criminal system starting with its entry points. For 25 years, they have mobilized community and attorneys to protect people’s rights in police stations by providing a 24-hour Hotline and hosting know-your-rights workshops. FDLA has also launched four additional programs of education, leadership development, demonstration, and advocacy in the same vein as the historic Hotline program. (CRJPF)


Grassroots Illinois Action (GIA) builds a permanent, independent, grassroots electoral movement in and for communities in Chicago. GIA advocates for progressive tax reforms and organizes strong community-based electoral work to pursue a vision that values all of Chicago's residents, children, and neighborhoods. (C4)


IL Muslim Civic Coalition is a statewide coalition that collaborates and amplifies the social and civic efforts of the broader Muslim community. Their work includes voter engagement, government accountability, and advocacy to advance civic voices, political access, and visibility in the face of discrimination and exclusion. (SF)


Illinois Prison Project (IPP) fights against regressive policies, racist practices, and a system that treats people as disposable. Through advocacy, public education, and direct representation, IPP brings hope to incarcerated people and their loved ones for a brighter, more humane, more just system for all. (SF)

Live Free Chicago organizes congregations across Illinois to ensure all Black people are free from all forms of violence. Live Free builds economic and political power as part of its broader campaign to address structural violence, racism, and poverty with the goal of ending gun violence and mass incarceration. (SF, CRJPF)


Lucy Parsons Labs (LPL) is a Chicago-based collaboration between data scientists, transparency activists, artists, and technologists that sheds light on the intersection of digital rights and on-the-streets issues. LPL, along with many other community organizations, is working to create awareness around the dangers of the ShotSpotter surveillance system and its use by the Chicago Police Department. (Anti-Surveillance)

Mamas Activating Movements for Abolition and Solidarity (MAMAS) fosters and organizes mothers (biological and non-biological), and caretakers in Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities targeted by state violence. They integrate the voices and strategies of mamas into social movements, media debates, and policy processes about systems sustaining white supremacy—from policing and immigration to colonization and war. (CRF)


Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration (MUAVI) is a Chicago-based mutual-support organizing group in solidarity with mothers surviving state and interpersonal violence, particularly those harmed by incarceration and separation from their kids. MUAVI grows its committee of participatory defense to build freedom campaigns for incarcerated moms and offers mutual aid for families and moms who are formerly incarcerated. (SF, Monica Cosby Fund)


Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere (MOVE) is led by Black women that build power to address systemic racism and generational disinvestment impacting families in Chicago's North Lawndale community. MOVE engages Black families in grassroots organizing to address structurally racist policies that have limited housing and employment opportunities, while also working to win policies that dismantle systemic racism in the criminal justice system by leading the charge to ensure that those most impacted by racism are at the forefront of transforming their lives. (CRJPF)

The No Cop Academy is a youth-led, adult-supported campaign demanding the redirection of funds away from policing and towards the revitalization of Chicago’s most oppressed and repressed communities. (CRF)


The Northside Chicago Prison Letter Writing Coalition responds to the direct needs of those incarcerated and experiencing housing insecurity, A Critical Response grant supported mutual aid efforts at Bryn Mawr's warming center while distributing free abolitionist literature and hosting weekly virtual letter writing to support incarcerated people during COVID-19 winters. (CRF)


Parole Illinois aims to change the perceptions, policies, and power relations that have maintained mass incarceration and extreme-sentencing in Illinois. They bring incarcerated voices into prison-policy discussions, train impacted people, lead mobilization efforts, and educate the public and policymakers about the harms of extreme sentencing and the need for policies that give every incarcerated person in the state a fair chance to return home. (SF)


Just Peace (JP) / Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation is a community-led initiative committed to restorative justice practices and principles at all levels of the community. JP strengthens relationships between community members and offers healing spaces to repair relationships that are strained by conflict and violence as an alternative to the punitive practices of the criminal justice system. (SF, CRJPF)

Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project (PNAP) is a visual arts and humanities project that connects artists, educators, and organizers to men serving long-term sentences at Statesville Maximum Security Prison. Through classes, workshops, and guest lectures, PNAP offers access to education and expression to examine the political impact of criminalization and the transformation of systems through policy advocacy. (CBI)


Sister Survivor Network (SSN) amplifies the civic voices of Black women and girls who have been harmed by America’s prison policies. SSN expands anti-carceral campaigns and advocacy networks for hyper-incarcerated communities while offering political education to transform lives and create visionary, healing communities. A Critical Response grant supported mutual-aid and protective equipment for citizens returning from prison or jail in the midst of the global pandemic. (SF, CRF)


SOUL in Action is a civic engagement organization dedicated to building political power in Black communities and neighborhoods on Chicago's South Side and surrounding suburbs. They offer residents the tools to advance racial and economic equity through legislative impact, accountability-centered relationships with elected officials, and public education around public policy. (C4)


Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) is a multi-issue organization serving Chicago’s South Side and south suburbs to strengthen civic engagement and build power in Black communities to advance racial and economic justice. SOUL addresses issues of housing, health, environmental justice, and economic development through organizing, public policy, and direct action. A Critical Response grant supported implementation of the historic Pre-Trial Fairness Act, which eliminated the role of money bond in Illinois. (CRF, SF, CRJPF)


Unitarian Universalist Prison Ministry of Illinois transforms institutions, organizes congregations, and supports individuals harmed by the prison system. They work alongside incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people to educate, organize, and advocate for local and state-level policy changes that reduce incarceration and fight for the abolition of prisons. (SF)


United Working Families is an independent political organization by and for working-class people of color. They have affiliated labor and community organizations across many identities and contribute to several coalition spaces such as the Right to Recovery platform, #DefundCPD, and #StopGeneralIron. Their goals include member organizing to grow their base and engaging policymakers on the city, county, and state levels. (C4, CRJPF)

Women’s All Points Bulletin (WAPB) is a grassroots organization that offers services, education, and training to eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls, particularly violence perpetrated by police. WAPB has created the Women and Gender Working Group so impacted individuals can tell their stories and hold Chicago agencies accountable to implementing consent decree policies in the Chicago Police Department. (SF, CRJPF)



Christian Peacemakers Teams (CPT) places trained violence-reduction teams in crisis situations and militarized areas around the world to build partnerships with local peacebuilders to confront violence and oppression through nonviolent direct action. CPT reports to the world community on areas of conflict and human rights violations. (SF)


The Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine (CJPIP) advances a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through education, dialogue, direct action, and advocacy to raise community awareness of human rights issues. CJPIP advances campaigns locally and nationally to support movements towards justice in the region. (SF)


The National Boricua Human Rights Network (NBHRN) educates and mobilizes the Puerto Rican community and their supporters around issues of justice, peace, and human rights. A Critical Response grant supported NBHRN's call for the city and the state to demand a moratorium to suspend Chicago Police Department foot-pursuits, a federal investigation into the murders of Adam Toledo and Anthony Alvarez, and demands for the city council to pass the People’s Ordinance - an ordinance that will put in place Civilian Oversight for Chicago Police Department. (CRF)




Albany Park Defense Network (APDN) is a community-based, rapid-response network ensuring all immigrants and residents are protected from deportations and displacement, including housing evictions and rental discrimination. Their work includes community building, know-your-rights workshops, and an emergency fund for people who are facing deportation and evictions. (SF) 


The Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE) is a grassroots community organization that builds the capacity of the Filipinx community to organize on issues of immigrant and worker’s rights. AFIRE strengthens workers’ rights in Illinois, promotes immigration policies that unite families and communities, and develops new grassroots leaders in the Filipinx community. (SF)


Blue Tin Production is an apparel manufacturing workers co-op led by intergenerational, working-class, immigrant, and refugee women. Blue Tin seeks to abolish sweatshops while also supporting fashion designers of color from the South and West Sides of Chicago. They create sustainable garment manufacturing options for designers and consumers through immigration, economic, and environmental justice. (SF, She100, CRFJP)


Borderless Magazine is a news outlet that is reimagining immigration journalism, offering pathways for emerging journalists to build a more representative media landscape for immigrant communities. A Critical Response grant supported a comic illustration to uplift the Stop General Iron campaign and prevent environmentally racist policies that allow polluting companies to accumulate in communities of color and Chicago's Southeast Side. (CRF, SF)


The Chicago Law and Education Foundation (CLEF) provides free legal services, resources, and education for undocumented immigrants, youth, and families in underserved communities. A Critical Response Fund grant provided emergency support in response to the recent reinstatement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and allowed CLEF to offer virtual legal and educational services to meet the needs of undocumented youth and families. (CRF, SF)


Illinois Dream Fund (ILDF) is a revolving scholarship fund that offers financial resources to undocumented students in Illinois. Their work includes student engagement, education workshops, policy, and advocacy to ensure undocumented immigrants receive equitable access to education. ILDF advocates for financial aid consideration, undocumented student liaison positions, and resources centers in every college and university in Illinois. (SF, TA)


Illinois Immigration Funders Collaborative consists of local and national foundations working to support issues facing the immigrant community. Funding priorities include legal assistance, community defense, and capacity-building to help organizations serve clients and work together in coalitions to mobilize for change. (TA)


Immigrant Solidarity DuPage (ISD) organizes, educates, and mobilizes DuPage County around the rights and collective struggles of the Latinx community. ISD leads campaigns, workshops, rallies, and cultural events to combat racial profiling, labor abuse, housing discrimination, and amplify the diverse civic voices within the Latinx community. (SF)


The Midwest Immigration Bond Fund Coalition (MIBFC) is a revolving fund to post bonds for individuals detained by Immigration & Customs Enforcement in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Wisconsin. MIBFC plays a critical role in liberating immigrants and supporting them post-release. A Critical Response grant provided assistance and capacity for strategic planning and legal representation as immigration enforcement continues to be a threat in communities. (CRF)


Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors (NIJFON) provides free legal services to low-income immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Aurora, Chicago, and Rockford. They also offer education to the general public on immigration issues and advocate for an accessible immigration system. The Technical Assistance Fund supported anti-racism training and building a trauma informed organization. (TA)


Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) works with individuals and families against deportations, detention, criminalization, and incarceration of Black, brown, and immigrant communities in and around Chicago. The Critical Response grant supported their response to the increase of ICE raids, mass deportations, and Brown Unity Marches for Black Lives Matter. (CRF, SF, CRJPF, Anti-Surveillance)


Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project (SSIP) is committed to community organizing for the rights of immigrants in Chicago’s southwest suburbs through education, civic engagement, and advocacy. Their work pushes for federal, state, and local policies that protect and invest in immigrant communities. SSIP's primary focus this year was around equitable access to health and COVID-19 resources to secure economic and legal relief for undocumented people. (SF)


United African Organization is a dynamic coalition of African community-based organizations that promotes social and economic justice, civic participation, and empowerment of African immigrants and refugees in Illinois. ​​(CBI)


Affinity Community Services is a social justice organization on Chicago's South Side dedicated to the Black LGBTQ+ community. Affinity advances health, wellness, and safety for Black LGBTQ+ women through education, advocacy, and collective action. (SF, CBI)


Brave Space Alliance (BSA) is the first Black-led, trans-led, LGBTQ center located on the South Side of Chicago, dedicated to creating and providing affirming and culturally competent services for the LGBTQ community. BSA uplifts trans and gender non-conforming people of color through community-sourced services, knowledge-sharing and advocacy while building toward the liberation of all oppressed peoples. They strengthened the ecosystem of community care through Crisis Delivery and mutual aid programs amid the global pandemic. (Rob Sable Award, CRJPF)


Chicago Therapy Collective promotes city-wide action to alleviate LGBTQIA mental health disparities and facilitates personal and cultural change through therapy, education, and the arts. A Critical Response Fund grant facilitated a virtual healing and wellness program, led by Queer, Trans People of Color, to provide members with self-care and mindfulness sessions amid the pandemic. (CRF)

Lighthouse Foundation advances justice for Black LGBTQ+ people across Chicago through empowerment, education, and entertainment. A Critical Response grant supported mobilizations to reduce and reallocate funds from the Chicago Police Department to communities and advocate for anti-racist policies and practices in LGBTQ+ health institutions. (TA, CRF, SF, CRJPF)


Lincoln United Methodist Church (LUMC) is an affirming congregation that advocates for the full inclusion of all peoples with open hearts, open minds, and open doors. LUMC celebrates the diversity of LGBTQ+, people of color, immigrants, and many more communities while addressing structural violence, racism, and poverty. (She100) 


Lorde, Rustin & Bates, Inc. (LRB) centers Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ people, people living with HIV, and other marginalized groups towards justice and equity. Their vision is a world where economic, health access, and justice disparities are closed; civic and community engagement is consistent and high; and traditionally underserved communities are well resourced, properly supported, and that systems and structures are a benefit of a free society and do no harm. (CRJPF)


Transformative Justice Law Project (TJLP) is a collective of social workers, activists, attorneys, and organizers committed to gender self-determination, transformative justice, and prison abolition. TJLP offers free and affirming legal services, education, and community organizing to trans folks impacted by the criminal legal system. (SF, CBI, Vernita Gray)




The Center for Racial and Gender Equity is a grassroots organization fighting for Black liberation. They organize Black workers and families to address high rates of unemployment, low-wage work, and the over-criminalization impacting Black communities. (C4)


Chicago Community and Workers Rights collectively defends the rights of immigrant workers and utilizes strategies of resistance against labor rights abuses. They fight for fair working conditions, dignified wages, and just living conditions through organizing, advocacy, education, and emergency support for workers in crisis. A Critical Response Fund grant supported racial justice and COVID-19 safety training to promote safety, solidarity, and healing between Latinx and Black workers. (SF, CRF)


Fight Now Chicago advocates and organizes to end subminimum disparity wages and injustices for Chicago's tipped restaurant workers. The Technical Assistance Fund supported the organization's fundraising training and data infrastructure. (TA, SF, GRAM)

Get to Work (GTW) supports the rights of workers on the West Side of Chicago, particularly Black workers fighting for equal access and treatment in workplaces. GTW coordinates job placements, workers rights training, and organizes to fight discrimination in the workforce. (CRJPF)


Healing to Action (H2A) advances a worker-led movement to end gender-based violence in Chicago. H2A centers on the healing and leadership of survivors who are low-wage workers, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, and immigrants. Recently, their SexEd Work campaign secured a victory in increased funding and oversight for comprehensive sexual health education in Chicago Public Schools. A Critical Response grant-supported immediate healing and mutual aid support as the implications of COVID-19 heighten mental, emotional, and economic needs. (CRF, CBI, SF, CRJPF)


Illinois Workers in Action organizes factory and temporary workers in Chicago to ensure all workers, regardless of employment, have safe and dignified working conditions. Their work includes education; organizing; and policy to unite workers and address COVID safety, wage theft, and discrimination in the workplace. A Critical Response grant supported members to counter racial tensions and build worker power to demand safety measures and protocols as COVID-19 continues. (SF, CRF)


Sex Workers Outreach Project Chicago (SWOP) supports the rights of sex workers with a focus on ending violence, criminalization, and the cultural stigma surrounding the sex industry through organizing, education, advocacy, and peer support. They offer legal, medical, and mental support while advocating for housing rights so workers can live healthy and fulfilling lives. (SF)


The Street Vendors Association of Chicago (SVAC) fights for an inclusive economy by organizing street vendors to build political and economic power without fear of police harassment, excessive fines, and discrimination. SVAC recently opened a shared kitchen in the North Lawndale neighborhood where members can cook and prepare food for sale. A Critical Response grant supported virtual workshops to protect the rights of workers during COVID-19. (CRF)


The Temp Worker Union Alliance Project (TWUAP) is composed of union leaders, worker center leaders and allies organizing to bridge unions and non-union temporary labor through organizing and worker's rights education. A Critical Response grant supported members in countering racial tensions and building worker power to demand safe and healthy conditions in the workplace as COVID-19 continues. (CRF)


The National LGBTQ Workers Center fights for economic justice and ensures all LGBTQ people understand and defend their rights through grassroots organizing, legal support, and labor education. Their annual LGBTQ Workers Economic Justice Summit and Chicago LGBTQ Anti-Discrimination Watch project aims to educate, activate, and convene LGBTQ workers and leaders while offering support to address workplace discrimination. (SF)


The United Transporters Community Council (UTCC) organizes, advocates, and builds coalitions for taxi, limo, and ride-share drivers to improve working conditions, unionize drivers, and strengthen economic progress in Chicago’s transportation industry. Their newsletter, UTCC Voice, provides information to transportation workers and resources that fight for the rights and safety of drivers and passengers in the city of Chicago and its suburban area. (SF)

Workers Center for Racial Justice fights for Black liberation and fair and inclusive society. They organize Black workers and families to address high rates of unemployment, low-wage work, and the criminalization of Chicago communities. (CRJPF)

Working Family Solidarity unites and organizes working families for economic and racial justice. They host Know Your Rights workshops and Racial Unity Dialogues between Latinx and Black workers to organize mutual benefits in the workplace and offer educational workshops to reach economic stability. A Technical Assistance grant supported the ongoing Communications and Development staff/consultant to manage outreach and operations. (TA, SF, CRJPF)




A Long Walk Home (ALWH) uses art to empower young people and end violence against girls and women, specifically Black girls in Chicago. Recently, ALWH showcased art from their Girl/Friends' Leadership program titled, "Black Girls, Are Monuments". The program allows young people to explore monuments as sites of memory, resistance, and joy while honoring missing and murdered Black girls in Chicago such as Rekia Boyd. (YF)


About Face Theatre (AFT) combines theatre training, performance, and educational programming to foster awareness, understanding, and celebration of all sexual and gender expressions. A Youth Fund grant supports AFT’s Outreach and Education initiatives within schools and communities, as well as their Youth Task Force. Together, these programs increase the safety and leadership capacity of LGBTQI+ youth. (YF, She 100)


The Arab American Action Network (AAAN) strengthens the Arab community in the Chicago area for social change. A Critical Response grant supported the organizing capacity of the Arab Women's Committee and Youth Organizing Program while continuing the Campaign to End Racial Profiling - the calling for an end to state surveillance and harassment of their community. (CRF, Anti-Surveillance, YF)


Assata’s Daughters (AD) is a Black women-led, young person-directed organization rooted in the Black Radical Tradition. AD organizes young Black people in Chicago by providing political education, leadership development and mentorship. They aim to deepen, escalate, and sustain the Movement for Black Liberation. (CRJPF)


Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) is a national member-based organization of young activists and organizers creating freedom and justice for all Black people through a Black, Queer, Feminist lens. She Safe, We Safe, their transformative movement campaign, seeks to put an end to the different forms of gender violence that Black women, girls, femmes and gender non-conforming people face every day. (YF, Anti-Surveillance, CRJPF)

Chicago Desi Youth Rising (CDYR) trains, mobilizes and activates Chicago youth to combat racial, economic, and social inequity. CDYR's Youth Leadership cohort and Summer Leadership Retreat celebrate South Asian identities and teach histories of resistance and solidarity while working to dismantle systems of oppression. (YF, SF, GRAM, CRJPF)

Chicago Freedom School (CFS) creates new generations of critical thinkers who use their unique experiences and power to create a just world. Inspired by the Mississippi Freedom Schools of the Civil Rights Era, CFS takes an innovative approach to youth activism, leadership development, and movement building through youth programs and training to develop actionable strategies for social change. (CRJPF)


Chi-Nations Youth Council is a diverse group of youth and adults preserving the environment and cultural identity for Native Youth. They promote a healthy lifestyle through arts, activism, and education. Recently, the Youth Council has led campaigns for Black and Indigenous solidarity; removing white supremacist monuments, mascots, and depictions of Indigenous people; and stopping oil pipeline development through Indigenous lands. (Lynda J. Tipton Award)


Chicago Student Action is a student-led organization that recruits and engages college students on campaigns across Illinois while committed to a vision of free college for all, including undocumented, part-time students, and students impacted by the carceral state. Their work includes expanding onsite mental health services, student debt relief, and ending racial profiling by campus police. (SF)

Circles & Ciphers is a hip-hop infused restorative justice organization led by and for young people impacted by violence and their criminalization by the Chicago police. Through art-based peace circles, education, and direct action they heal collectively and work to bring about the abolition of the prison-industrial complex. (SF, YF)

Dissenters is an anti-militarism organization of young people reclaiming resources from the war industry through direct action. The UIC Dissenters chapter organizes students from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to demand institutions divest from the war industry and invest in life-giving services and repair relationships to the Earth and people around the world. Recently, they connected mutual aid efforts to anti-military organizing to help communities gain access to resources that keep them safe. (TA, YF, CRJPF)


The Every Voice Coalition works to end campus sexual violence by filing and passing student- and survivor-written, survivor-centered bills in states across the country. Their efforts include the Every Voice IL Bill that requires all Illinois Institutions of Higher Education to conduct annual surveys on campus sexual violence. Specifically, the legislation will ensure transparent data on sexual violence, gathered anonymously and published publicly to hold institutions accountable to support survivors. (YF)

Free Street Theater creates original, joyful, and thought-provoking theater by, for, about, with, and in Chicago’s diverse communities. Their Youth Ensembles create original plays that explore the systems shaping the lives of Chicago youth, with focuses on education, incarceration, immigration, and gentrification. (YF)


GoodKids MadCity (GKMC) develops young leaders in the fight to end violence and advocate for fully-resourced communities. GKMC developed the “Peace Book Commission,'' a proposal to divert funds from police in order to cultivate practices of repairing harm in Chicago communities most affected by violence without resorting to the criminal legal system. (Donald F. Erickson Synapses Award)

The Hana Center’s Fighting Youth Shouting Out for Humanity (FYSH) is a youth council that engages in civic education, creative expression, campaigns, and collective action for youth and their communities. FYSH centers efforts on citizenship, education, health, and justice for all, particularly organizing around the decriminalization of immigrants and youth of color and the redistribution of funds toward supportive schools, communities, and cities. (YF)

The Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH) organizes and trains young people to advocate for issues that directly affect their lives and communities. ICAH has conducted statewide research, developed resources, changed public policy, and hosted frequent events and training sessions for youth and service providers, with an emphasis on building youth leadership skills and serving marginalized populations, including low-income, immigrant, homeless, LGBTQ, and pregnant and parenting adolescents. (CRJPF)

Imagine Englewood If strengthens and empowers the Greater Englewood community through teaching youth and families healthy living, environmental awareness, and positive communication skills. Their Growing Citizen Leaders program engages young leaders in research, organizing, civic dialogue, and advocacy skills. (YF)


InterAction Initiative is a youth-led organization harnessing the power of counter-narratives (stories from the margins) to develop and activate leaders and thinkers who prioritize inclusion, intersectionality, and racial equity. A Critical Response grant supported solidarity between young Black and Asian activists and organizers to co-learn and co-build for collective liberation in Chicago. (TA, YF, CRF)


ONE Northside is a mixed-income, multi-ethnic, intergenerational organization building collective power to eliminate injustice through community organizing. ONE Northside works with activated youth to address climate change and police accountability. Youth efforts focus on passing the proposed civilian oversight ordinance with Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability coalition and removing School Resource Officers (SROs) from schools. (YF)

Chicago Park District's Queering the Parks (QTP) program creates welcoming and liberatory public space by and for queer, trans, youth of color (QTYOC). Their Youth Leadership Committee produces and hosts resource fairs and a podcast to uplift cultural production, popular education, resource sharing, and advocacy by and for QTYOC on the South and West Sides of Chicago. (YF)


Solidarity Studios connects youth in Chicago, Palestine, and South Africa through art and activism. They strengthen bonds between global communities by weaving racial and political histories in cross-cultural programs to inspire solidarity and spark change through music, creative expression, and action. Recently, Solidarity Studios has opened its first permanent home and physical space to host creatives from across Chicago. (YF, GRAM)

Stick Talk is a youth-led, abolitionist collective of organizers and restorative justice practitioners offering conversations, political education, and skill acquisition about guns with and for young Black and Latinx people who carry them. Stick Talk reassesses abstinence-only gun education through the lens of harm reduction and mutual aid, while developing strategies for community safety and collective care without the police, criminalization, and stigma for those who routinely carry. (YF)


Territory is a place-based urban design studio where young people are building better futures for themselves and their communities through the practice of design. Their home base is the Austin neighborhood, on Chicago's west side. Territory is youth-led, collaborative, and adventurous. Through hands-on projects young people gain a toolkit of professional design skills, access to transformative career pathways, and the authority to advocate for young people in the design and planning of the city. Territory enacts design equity, reflects the values and lived experiences of the youth served, and embodies a "now" where youth shape your city. (YF)


TGi Movement cultivates safe and inclusive Oases in Chicago to unite youth across neighborhood boundaries to end Dream Deserts - a system that pushes young people to not follow their passions due to enforced austerity and oppression. Through direct services, youth organizing, and creative expression TGi creates opportunities for civic engagement and community change. Their Reclaiming the Hood campaign aims to revitalize Black businesses in the Chicago Lawn community and combat disinvestment and racial inequities. (YF, CRJPF)


The Warehouse Project & Gallery utilizes the arts to create community change for young people in Summit, IL. Through the arts, they explore issues of poverty, consent, reproductive justice, and microaggressions in order to offer solutions in their schools and communities. Recently they used artistic work to bridge creative expression and the current public health crises to address needed change in their neighborhood. (SF, YF)


Youth Empowerment Performance Project (YEPP) creates a safe environment for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness to explore and express their struggles while celebrating their strengths through theatrical performances. A Critical Response grant supported the Chicago Youth Mutual Aid (CYMA), a partnership built among Black and brown-led organizations supporting young people as basic necessities intensify during a global pandemic. (CRF, TA, SF, YF)


Youth Outlook engages youth, families, and communities in Naperville, Aurora, DeKalb, and surrounding suburbs to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ youth and build welcoming environments. Through direct services and community education, they offer advocacy tools for parents, educators, organizations, and community institutions to counteract harassment, bullying, and violence. (SF, YF)




The Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA), a project of the Chicago Reader newspaper, launched in 2019 as a response to the industry’s revenue decline. CIMA believes in collaboration over competition in the media industry and thus launched a collaborative fundraising effort. Thirty seven media outlets were part of this fundraising efforts, these are: AirGo Radio, Better Government, Beverly Review, Chicago Crusader, Chicago Independent Radio Project (CHIRP,) Chicago Music Guide, Chicago Public Square, Chicago Reader, Chicago Reporter, Cicero Independiente, City Bureau, Current Magazines, E3 Radio, Free Spirit Media, Growing Community Media, Hyde Park Herald, Injustice Watch, Inside Publications, Invisible Institute, Kartemquin Educational Films, Korea Times Chicago, La Raza, Left Out Magazine, Loop North News, New City, North Lawndale Community News, Public Narrative, Rebellious Magazine for Women, Rivet, Sixty Inches from Center, SoapBox Productions and Organizing, South Side Weekly, Streetwise, Students Xpress Magazine, The Daily Line, Third Coast Review and Windy City Times.