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On March 2nd, Crossroads Fund is celebrating 30 years of seeding change, growing leaders and building movements with a night of food, music, awards and more! This week we’re offering our Facebook fans a chance to join the celebration and win a free ticket to our gala event!

Here’s how to enter:love photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/shanissinha_/

Only one entry per person please. The winner can keep the ticket or offer it to the person of their choice. Crossroads Fund reserves the right to remove offensive posts.

Fri, Feb 17, 2012

Jane Addams Senior Caucus Leaders in Action
In my work at Crossroads Fund, it is always a privilege to witness grassroots leaders giving voice to the social justice issues that directly affect them. One of my most memorable site visits from this past spring’s grantmaking cycle was facilitated entirely by volunteer leaders from the organization’s constituency – in this case, low-income seniors from Jane Addams Senior Caucus working for better, more affordable housing and healthcare. The seniors told us about the strength and knowledge they have developed as they’ve advocated for policy changes and encountered powerful decision-makers whose agendas are not always transparent. They told us about the challenging but transformative process they are currently engaged in to become a more antiracist organization, and how these discussions have pushed them to reflect upon their own experiences of both privilege and oppression to better understand how they are connected to broader systems.

As social justice activists, some of us are accustomed to thinking about leadership only as a means to an end. We develop leaders so that we can more effectively bring about changes in policies and institutions. But when we ask grassroots groups to tell us how they know they know they have succeeded in achieving their social change goals, many of them tell stories about the growth of their leaders, indicating that they see the development of their constituency as an important end in and of itself. Examples include the development of concrete skills and knowledge – like when the parents at Whittier Elementary School in Pilsen talked about being able to read and understand Chicago Public Schools’ budgets – as well as the deepening of analysis, as when low-income tenants from Southside Together Organizing for Power in Hyde Park-Woodlawn told us what they had learned about globalization, “neoliberal” economic policies and the relationship of these policies to the inequality they experience in their neighborhood.

Developing community leadership often has an impact beyond Chicago. Many new leaders supported by Crossroads Fund have gone on to make change at the national level. Over the last year, we’ve seen organizers from the Immigrant Youth Justice League step into the national spotlight and organize with their peer across the country against anti-immigrant legislation. And United African Organization Executive Director Alie Kabba was recently named one of The Grio’s 100 African Americans Making History Today.

For the past year, we at Crossroads Fund have been working very hard, in cooperation with community members, to design a tool to better understand the impact of our social change work and its contribution to social justice movements. Part of this tool involves identifying the different kinds of social change we and our grantees are creating. This includes the change that happens within communities as a result of strong leadership development. The cultivation of leaders is itself a critical form of social change, regardless of whether our work results in changes in policy or mainstream culture, because of the transformation that happens within communities when members strengthen their collective voice and capacity for self determination. This building of skills, relationship and analysis also makes our work more sustainable and gives it momentum beyond the campaigns of individual organizations – the definition of movement-building.

 

Fri, Feb 17, 2012

Come out March 2nd, 2012 to celebrate 30 years of seeding change, growing leaders and building movements! Here's a taste of just some of the exciting items in our silent auction! Buy your tickets today!

Thu, Feb 16, 2012

John and Robert Castillo-Pennycuff. Photo by Emmanuel Garcia.By Emmanuel Garcia

Crossroads Fund mourns the loss of an amazing Chicago organizer and member of our community. On January 29th, John Castillo-Pennycuff passed away. John was a beloved and respected activist in the LGBTQ community. He served on the Chicago Commission on Human Relations Mayor's Advisory Council on LGBT Issues, was a member of Queer Nation Chicago, Equal Marriage NOW, the Coalition against Bashing, and many other groups, but I knew him as a friend.

The first week I started the Lisa Fittko Internship at Crossroads Fund I ran into John Pennycuff outside of our office in Logan Square. It was a sunny day on the last week of June. He had a big smile. We talked briefly about what the internship entailed and he shared his excitement about my involvement with Crossroads Fund. This brief encounter in Logan Square was one of the few times I saw John without Robert, that was the only difference; his welcoming spirit was the same as all the other times I saw him.  At the time I didn’t know that John and his husband Robert were donors to Crossroads Fund, but I did know how committed they were to gay rights.

He was a fierce advocate for marriage equality. One of the pieces that stand out for me is that out of all the actions he did to create change, John said his proudest moment was taking his partner Robert Castillo to a family reunion. It may sound simple, but it is this love the fueled his tireless efforts.

Not only was John a donor to and friend of Crossroads Fund, and a member of many grantee organizations, including ACT/UP Chicago and the Emergency Clinic Defense Network, but he also represented the activist spirit of Crossroads Fund: He used multiple strategies for social change, working both outside and inside institutions. He would picket and boycott when necessary, but also engaged the city government to press for better services and increased funding for LGBTQ issues. He was involved in organizing across issues. His activism was not limited to the causes that directly impacted him as a gay man. He was an active member of the anti-war movement, and was involved in a lawsuit against the city after his arrest at a 2003 anti-war march. He also worked for reproductive justice, volunteering with the Emergency Clinic Defense Network.

The impact of his work will be felt for years to come. He will be greatly missed by many around Chicago and across the country.

Visitation for John Pennycuff will be held on Thursday, February 2.from  3:00pm - 9:00pm at the Jaeger Funeral Home, 3526 N Cicero (1 block south of Addison), Chicago IL 60641.
Thu, Feb 02, 2012

Dennis Kass working on a project with students. Photo by John Konstantaras/Chicago News Cooperative

Over the last 30 years, Crossroads Fund has been the first foundation funder of countless groups in Chicago, including United African Organization, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, ACT/UP Chicago and many more. We help new and emerging organizations hire their first staff, move out of the garage or basement and into an office or launch their first major campaign. A grant from Crossroads Fund has an impact greater than money: other foundations have told us that they see funding from Crossroads Fund as a seal of approval. They know that we will invest the time to meet with a new organization where they are at, recognize their potential, and help them grow to meet that potential. Once a new group has gotten funding from us, other doors tend to open.

One such organization was recently highlighted in the New York Times for their work helping Chicago Public Schools students and their families understand their rights under the law. Read more about the Chicago Law and Education Foundation, and Crossroads Fund’s impact on their work, on the New York Times website.

Thu, Jan 26, 2012