Amid a shelter-in-place order due to COVID19 in mid-March, Crossroads Fund’s annual Spring benefit went virtual. The week-long celebration included a LIVE DJ set, online silent auction, and awards presentation. On May 5, Crossroads fund staff hosted a Virtual Grassroots Fundraising Webinar, where we shared lessons learned and best practices. You can access the webinar recording on-demand here or stream it below.

Also, Sarah Best Strategy wrote a blog, "5 Tips for Moving Events Online," summarizing their top takeaways from Crossroads Fund’s pivot online, with embedded social media examples. Read it here.


Wed, May 06, 2020

credit: @itsmonicatrinidad



Dear Friend,

We hope that you are well and that you have what you need. These times, while filled with uncertainty, remind us that community building and resistance are essential.

It is now clear that the harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is not equally distributed. Individuals who are incarcerated, undocumented, part of the informal economy, living in poverty, attending under-resourced schools, are all facing the dual threats of contracting the virus and an inability to meet basic needs.

Amid the pandemic, Crossroads Fund grantees have stepped up to respond to the lack of safety nets for the most vulnerable. The response is through: mutual aid support to ensure community members have information and survival resources; organizing to free people from Cook County Jail to escape the COVID-19 outbreak; organizing to push Chicago Housing Authority to open vacant public housing to the homeless; and inviting people to share their stimulus checks with those excluded and in need. These mutual aid actions have a political analysis and are not based in a charity framework as articulated here by Dean Spade, a leading proponent of “Solidarity, not Charity.”

Since the March 2020 mandated shelter-in-place order by Governor J.B. Pritzker, we adjusted our grantmaking to shorten the approval time of grants, increased grant dollar amounts, and invited groups to apply to our Critical Response Fund.

Crossroads Fund has led two rounds of rapid response funding cycles. Through the Critical Response Fund, we have given $124,500 to 34 grassroots groups. Read the full list here.

We partnered with local foundations that support community organizing to create a Technology Funders Collaborative Fund. The fund offered support to mitigate the digital divide by providing funds for digital access and accompanying technology in a moment when meeting virtually is a necessity.

Additionally, the Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA) was a month-long fundraising campaign during the month of May to support the work of 43 independent media organizations who are facing revenue shortfalls of up to 85% during this crisis. These media outlets are essential to the many organizations in Chicago building movements for racial, social, and economic justice as the outlets highlight the stories and needs of community members often ignored by major media outlets. Crossroads Fund is providing administrative and fiscal support to CIMA.

Crossroads Fund is also supporting COVID RRT Chicago and GetMePPE Chicago, which are rapid response networks of more than 800 medical students in Chicago who are identifying ways to meet the gaps in prevention of the spread of COVID-19 for critical populations of people. COVID RRT established a strong model for testing for the cornavirus in overnight shelters and is now working closely with public health officials to replicate in more shelters across Chicago. COVID-RRT is also providing testing in the undocumented community and is helping to support decarceration efforts in ICE facilities through a medical-legal partnership. GetMePPE Chicago effectively, efficiently, and equitably distributes both local and crowdfunded donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals and community organizations in need. Similarly, Crossroads Fund is providing administrative and fiscal support to COVID RRT and GetMePPE Chicago.

Finally, we cannot thank you, our supporters, enough -- you came through to make our virtual Seeds of Change fundraiser a success. The week-long celebration included a LIVE DJ set, online silent auction, and awards presentation. On Tuesday, May 5, Crossroads Fund staff hosted a Virtual Grassroots Fundraising Webinar, where we shared lessons learned and best practices. You can find access to the webinar recording on-demand here.

Also, Sarah Best Strategy wrote a blog, "5 Tips for Moving Events Online," summarizing their top takeaways from Crossroads Fund’s pivot online, with embedded social media examples. Read it here.

Times like these clarify our mission to stand in solidarity with those that our government systematically ignores. We are grateful to be in community with you. Please consider a gift to Crossroads Fund so that we can continue to be a reliable funder for change in Chicago.


If you received a stimulus check and it has allowed you to have additional resources, please consider donating it - or a portion of it - to Crossroads Fund. This grassroots stimulus gift will support building movements for racial, social, and economic justice.

Thu, Apr 23, 2020



The Collaborative is now closed and not accepting applications.


Community Organizing: Technology Funders Collaborative 

Chicago and the nation are witnessing a tumultuous time in history – the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused significant harm to people and further unveiled the inequities that exist in our society.  Access to technology has surfaced as a key issue with many communities experiencing the technology divide.  


Local Chicago foundations that support community organizing have come together to respond to this technology need. The foundations are committed to supporting innovative organizing strategies that now rely on technology more than ever.  The support will be through rapid response technology grants that will be issued on a rolling basis and within 10 working days of receiving the request.  Crossroads Fund will serve as the host organization for this collaborative.


Funding Criteria

Priority will be given to community organizing groups that have been funded by the following foundations in the last three years: Albert Pick Jr. Foundation, Comer Family Foundation, Conant Family Foundation, Crossroads Fund, Field Foundation, McCormick Foundation, Polk Bros Foundation, Woods Fund of Chicago and Wieboldt Foundation.


Funding requests can be for the following:

  • Building organizational technology capacity to facilitate strategic base building, build new coalitions and partnerships
  • Supporting an organization’s technology infrastructure – network, hardware, software, internet access, cell phones, accessing digital meeting capacity, trainings etc.


Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicants may request between up to $10,000.
  • Organizations with budgets under $750,000
  • Organizations that have been funded in the last three years by one or more of the above-mentioned foundations
  • Funding should be used within 6 months.



The Collaborative is now closed and not accepting applications.


Mon, Apr 13, 2020

On behalf of Crossroads Fund board members and staff, thank you for making our virtual week-long celebration fundraiser a success! We appreciate you bidding on silent auction items, selecting songs, dancing along to our live DJ set, and contributing toward our fundraising goal. 


We're still calculating the final numbers, but so far, we raised over $135,000! Thank you! If you didn’t get a chance to contribute, you still can here.


At this moment, we draw strength from the joy and resistance that movements for justice have shown us as the only way forward. Together we reimagined our annual tradition and coalesced virtually to resource grassroots organizing in Chicago. We hope you found a moment of cheer and connectedness throughout the week.




Listen to our Resilient Community Playlist. Featuring songs that encompass joy at this moment. Keep the dancing going! Check out songs featured in DJ L O KARI's BEATS OF CHANGE live mix set.


2020 Awardees

Building Deep Relationships and Trust 

Cheryl Graves and Ora Schub (posthumously) received the Donald F. Erickson Synapses Awardfor their leadership in creating clear processes for how communities can respond to harm when it occurs, inspiring a generation of young activists to envision a world without police and prisons. Cheryl Graves accepted the award by thanking friends of Ora Schub, who sadly passed away in 2018 after a long battle with cancer. “To all of you who knew and loved Ora, know that her tenacity and fighting spirit for justice and resistance is alive and well. And yes, still very, very loud.” 


Fighting for Our Families

The Street Vendors Association of Chicago (SVAC) was awarded the Lynda J. Tipton Memorial Award for Social Justicefor providing a sustainable model for equitable economic development in communities experiencing racial wealth divides and active disinvestment. SVAC Board Member Sonia Ruiz accepted the award on behalf of the group and emphasized their determination to continue organizing. "There are still many obstacles to overcome, but we will not stop fighting. We are going to continue fighting for our families,” Sonia remarked.


Education as a Human Right 

This year the Ron Sable Award for Activism was awarded to Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education (RYH) for empowering parents to protect and strengthen public education for all children in Chicago and Illinois. “Raise Your Hand has been spending this past chaotic week, filling the gaps in Chicago Public School’s capacity and making sure that parents get the information and resources they need...throughout this public health crisis. The pandemic reminds us that schools and teachers are expected to handle so much beyond teaching and learning,” said Jennie Biggs, RYH Communications and Outreach Director as she accepted the award.


Thank You






Sat, Apr 04, 2020


Crossroads Fund is so excited to announce our 2020 Giving Project cohort - a multi-racial, cross-class, intersectional group of 26 people who have committed to fundraise $150,000 to fund movement work in Chicago.

Over the course of six months, this group will have deep personal conversations on race and class, make a monetary donation that is significant to them, fundraise their network through a process of "donor organizing," and practice participatory grantmaking supporting strategic, necessary, and underfunded social justice organizing work around the city. Since 2014, Crossroads Fund's Giving Projects have raised more than $500,000 from over 1,000 donors.

Meet the 2020 Giving Project Cohort

The Giving Project is an innovative model for building leadership and moving money for real change in Chicago. Each Giving Project brings together a cross-class, cross-race, gender-diverse, intergenerational group of 20-25 people who share a vision of social justice and want to apply their time, talent, and resources to supporting movements for social change.

Each cohort commits to a transformational six- month process that will include:

  • Working together to strategically support underfunded and necessary social justice organizing.
  • Building community together, across identities, and digging deep into issues of race, class and power.
  • Make a donation that is personally meaningful (no minimum amount) and fundraise to support organizing projects.
  • A full grantmaking process that funds social justice organizing projects, including site visits and final granting decisions.

In the past five years, Giving Project cohorts have raised more than $500,000 that was given out in grants to support building social, racial, and economic justice movements across Chicago.

Wed, Mar 04, 2020