This August, 45 people died from 249 incidents of gun violence in Chicago, according to reporting by DNAinfo. Those are tragic numbers, but they actually represent a drop in violence from last summer, when 369 August shootings claimed the lives of 79 people. In 2016, the city experienced a major spike in gun homicide, prompting a sense of crisis and the question from community activists: Is Chicago philanthropy doing enough?
Faced with that question from a local community leader, the MacArthur Foundation pointed to the billion dollars it's invested in its home city since 1979. But it also quickly joined a group of Chicago's top funders to roll out the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities in advance of Labor Day weekend, a time when shootings often soar. Emergency grants went out to 70 local groups that offered ideas for countering violence.
While the new fund was set up as summer wound down last year, the rapid response effort hit full stride this spring, with a grants cycle that started pulling in proposals by April and issued checks to community groups before the school year ended and the dangerous hot days of summer began. The fund cast a wide net with its support, this time providing grants to 120 groups in over 17 Chicago neighborhoods. It also organized events around the city, promoted with the Twitter hashtag #safestsummerever2017.
If you are an employer, you can hire young people at risk. If you are a community leader, you can help improve police-community relations. If you are a health care provider, you can support trauma-informed care to gun violence victims. If you are a funder, you can support any one of these efforts. Whatever you do, your voice matters when you speak up in support of policies that can make our neighborhoods safer. Reach out to learn more.