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Chicago Grassroots Take Action to Help Prevent Summer Violence

$1.9M in grants will support nearly 250 community-led summer and fall programs in Chicago neighborhoods hardest hit by gun violence

CHICAGO — Memorial Day is approaching, and while many in Chicago typically brace for an anticipated surge in shootings, many grassroots organizations in areas hardest hit by gun violence are proactively planning ways to bring neighbors together to help make their communities safer this summer and early fall.

A coalition of more than 50 foundations and funders called the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities (PSPC) today announces 249 grassroots organizations will receive $1.9 million in grants from its 2024 Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities. Groups will use these funds to host activities in 24 neighborhoods on the South and West Sides that experience high levels of gun violence. The grant application review committee ⁠— made up of funders, a community development practitioner and a former Chicago Fund grantee ⁠— identified these projects as 2024 PSPC Chicago Fund grant recipients after reviewing a total of 421 applications.

“The PSPC Chicago Fund serves as an annual reminder that there are a wealth of engaged residents that are closest to the issue,” said Jai Jones, project specialist for The Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. “Their expertise and activation is critical in helping to make communities safer.”

This year marks the ninth year PSPC has facilitated neighborhood grants through the PSPC Chicago Fund, which provides grants of up to $10,000 to small, neighborhood organizations engaged in community-led approaches to increasing community cohesion, safety and peace. PSPC launched the Chicago Fund in 2016 to prepare for the potential of a spike in violence in Chicago during summer months, and to support activities that build community cohesion, provide safe spaces, and promote safety and peace.

Over the years, including this year, the rapid-response fund has provided nearly $10 million in support of 1,400+ projects. Proposed grantee program activities range from gardening and peer mentoring projects to art programs and music festivals, community yoga sessions, youth sports programs, and other physical activities. Many are youth-led and incorporate social emotional learning components.

Among the 2024 activities:

  • Lawndale Pop Up Spot (North Lawndale) will host “Sundays on The Boulevard,” activate Roosevelt Blvd in North Lawndale into safe spaces for youth and adults, and highlight local businesses and organizations in weekly community festivals
  • Fresh Supply (West Garfield Park) will host a summer youth program that enables high school-aged individuals to explore digital stewardship and digital design of tools for the communities’ benefit 
  • Gage Park Softball Association (Gage Park) will host season-long baseball camps for girls ages 6-10 years old, introducing them to the fundamentals of baseball 
  • Mr Dad’s Father Club (Englewood) will host a six-week summer program that creates a safe space for young men and pairs them with mentors throughout the summer with a focus on building social emotional skills and other life skills related to entrepreneurship and career
  • Golden Street (Roseland, Washington Park) will host weekly community festivals in local parks with activities that include live music and art installations, sports activities, gardening, and health and wellness workshops

PSPC is a coalition of more than 50 foundations and funders working together to identify and support community-led, evidence-based solutions to addressing gun violence. Since its 2016 founding, PSPC has committed more than $140 million to anti-violence efforts in Chicago. In addition to the Chicago Fund, PSPC’s comprehensive, four-point approach also includes: neighborhood-based initiatives, including street outreach and transitional jobs; reimagining and reforming public safety systems; and creating a supportive policy environment.

“So many Chicagoans – community members, philanthropic partners, civic leaders, the City and the State – are coming together around one table to address gun violence in Chicago,” said United Way of Metro Chicago’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and PSPC Chicago Fund Co-Chair Anna Lee. “This is incredibly promising, because everyone has a role to play in ensuring the scale of the solutions matches the need.”

Evaluations of the Chicago Fund have found that activities supported build the community and social cohesion necessary for violence reduction. Additionally, the Chicago Fund’s grantmaking has supported and expanded the capacity of emerging and hyperlocal community-based organizations and over time enhanced their ability to implement impactful programs.

“Chicago Fund grantees have invested time into reimagining how safe spaces can be activated this summer and fall,” said Jones. “This shared vision and hope is what propels us forward as a collective.”

The Chicago Fund prioritizes 24 community areas on the South and West Sides based on data compiled by the University of Chicago Crime Lab for highest number and rate of homicides, and in alignment with State violence prevention priority areas: Auburn Gresham, Austin, Burnside, Chatham, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, West Englewood, Fuller Park, Gage Park, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, Greater Grand Crossing, Humboldt Park, Lower West Side (Pilsen), New City (Back of the Yards), North Lawndale, South Lawndale (Little Village), Riverdale, Roseland, South Chicago, South Shore, Washington Park, West Pullman and/or Woodlawn.




See the full list of 2024 PSPC Chicago Fund grant recipients.