News Release: As Summer Heats Up, Chicagoans Step Up to Combat Violence



$1.1 Million in Grants Support 181 On-the-Ground Initiatives

CHICAGO – The flare-up of violence over Memorial Day weekend is an agonizing reminder that comprehensive short- and long-term strategies are needed to support Chicagoans who work to make our neighborhoods safer.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities is supporting residents with rapid-response grants of up to $10,000 for community-led organizations creating the conditions to reduce violence on the South and West sides.

The Chicago Fund this week announces $1.1 million in grants for 181 community-based organizations creating programs, services and events this summer and fall. More than 300 applications were reviewed in April and early May, and funds were distributed last week.

“Memorial Day is the gateway to summer fun, but that’s not always the case in Chicago’s disinvested neighborhoods,” said Deborah E. Bennett, Senior Program Officer of Polk Bros. Foundation, which is a member of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. PSPC is a coalition of more than 40 foundations and funders that came together to seek solutions amid Chicago’s 2016 outbreak of gun violence. The Chicago Fund is one of PSPC’s strategies. “It’s important that people in communities most impacted by gun violence have the resources to do what they think will be effective at reducing the violence around them,” Bennett added.

With its largest grant total and highest number of grantees in its four-year history. the Chicago Fund is one of the four violence-reduction strategies supported by members of PSPC. To date, members have committed nearly $75 million to support proven and promising long- and short-term approaches to reducing gun violence: street outreach and transitional jobs, police reform and community relations, gun policy reform, and the Chicago Fund.

The Chicago Fund supports a wide range of activities over the next few months that bring together neighbors and law enforcement. Poignant and painful stories will emerge. Will a public apology from a gang-involved resident to his victim bring more forgiveness to Humboldt Park? Can a beehive reduce shootings on the South side? Do Chicago police officers and the Grand Crossing residents they are sworn to protect prefer smooth jazz or straight-ahead bop?

Chicago Fund grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 arrive as the groups prepare events, programs and services to foster stronger community bonds and crowd out violence, to help reduce the gun violence that usually spikes during summer months.

The Chicago Fund grants support residents’ ideas and actions that bind neighborhoods together, make them more resilient, and improve community-police relationships.

“We gladly support these on-the-ground responses to gun violence, and we will help them measure their effectiveness so we all can learn what makes communities more safe and peaceful,” added Anna Lee, Director of Community Impact for The Chicago Community Trust, a PSPC member. “These programs show that South and West side residents want to work to end the violence, that violence is not inevitable.”

In April and early May, the Chicago Fund reviewed 307 community-led proposals and chose 181 grantees to support with awards totaling $1.1 million. Grants range from $1,000 to $10,000 and help these hyperlocal organizations — which have operating budgets of less than $500,000 — buy materials and rent facilities to make their events, programs and services successful.

In 2018, nearly 40,000 Chicago residents attended events, participated in programming or received services as a result of the funded projects.

Among the 2019 projects:

● The Polished Pebbles family mentoring program in Bronzeville will expand its Friday Hangouts during summer, creating more opportunities for daughters and mothers to connect and to learn about 21st Century career paths and opportunities.

● The South Side Jazz Coalition and the 3rd District of the Chicago Police Department will present a free, live jazz concert on the police station’s lawn, in the Grand Crossing neighborhood. Musicians ages 12 to 17 as well as established Chicago performers will entertain from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday Aug. 23, at this get-to-know-you get-together.

● A Humboldt Park Truth and Reconciliation Summit will give community leaders — including law enforcement — a forum to publicly apologize for causing harm, work through guided meditation sessions and then pledge to help implement change.

● Up to 30 young people will learn beekeeping skills and how to run a real-world beekeeping business at hives set up in the Englewood, West Woodlawn and West Garfield Park neighborhoods. Afterward, they can demonstrate what they have learned at a Cops & Bees event, cosponsored by the Chicago Police Department’s 7th and 11th Districts as well as with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Residents and law enforcement can chat, mingle and sample fresh, raw honey.

● From June to September, the Healing Through Art and Nature project in Little Village will bring together artists and residents to complete art- and nature-related projects in a community garden. Events also include community planting days, a summer solstice observance, and a back-to-school celebration.


In 2019, 21 community areas on the South and West sides were prioritized:

Austin, Auburn Gresham, Chatham, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, West Englewood, 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, Roseland, South Chicago, South Lawndale (Little Village), South Shore, Washington Park, West Pullman and Woodlawn.

2019 Highlights:

● $1.1 million awarded

● 181 grantees

● $6,111 average grant

● $83,000 median grantee operating budget

● 179 serving youth and young adults

Since its inception, the Fund has provided $3.3 million support for 505 projects in Chicago. It has grown each year:

2016: $500,000 in support; 72 projects funded
2017: $850,000 in support; 120 projects funded
2018: $850,000 in support; 132 projects funded
2019: $1.1 million in support; 181 projects funded

The Fund is one of four key strategies employed by the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities:

● street outreach, transitional jobs and cognitive behavioral therapy

● police reform and community relations

● gun policy reform, and

● The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, a rapid-response fund for community-led summer and fall activities 

About the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities

The Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities is a coalition of over 40 Chicago funders and foundations committed to aligning their funding to support proven and promising approaches to reducing gun violence. To date, members have committed nearly $75 million to street outreach and transitional jobs, police reform and community relations, gun policy reform, and a rapid-response fund for community-led summer activities. Learn more at: