Let’s Link Chi, a new community grants program for South and West Side organizations


New initiative to provide more than $650,000 in grants to small nonprofits

in neighborhoods most impacted by violence


CHICAGO – The Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities (PSPC), in collaboration with Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, today announced the launch of Let’s Link Chi, a new grant-making initiative to support community-based organizations in Chicago’s neighborhoods most impacted by violence. As part of PSPC’s latest efforts to reduce violence in all of Chicago’s communities, the new initiative will provide more than $650,000 in grant funds to small nonprofits in an effort to expand accessible, year-round neighborhood-centric activities, youth programming and resources that keep residents safe.

“Our all-hands-on-deck public safety strategy means supporting our smallest organizations and nonprofits to ensure they have the resources they need to provide positive and safe opportunities for their communities,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “From neighborhood barbeques and pick-up sports events to virtual music concerts and community walks, these investments from our philanthropic partners are the first step to building stronger and safer communities in every corner of Chicago.”

Under the new initiative, grants between $15,000 and $17,000 will be awarded to local, small nonprofit organizations engaging in activities that build community cohesion and promote safety and peace, such as neighborhood art projects, communal meals, sports programming, and more. The funds are designed to fill in gaps for organizations who may not have access to City funds due to their smaller capacity.

“Neighbors in Chicago’s communities hardest hit by gun violence are working with each other to keep their blocks safe, and they need more resources,” said Anna LauBach, Director of the Community Justice Initiative at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, a PSPC member. “Let’s Link Chi is a direct response to the many people and grassroots organizations that are taking on-the-ground action in their neighborhoods.”

The initiative will supplement PSPC’s Chicago Fund, which has supported neighborhood organizations throughout the summer like 40 Plus Ohio Players that have provided board games, card games, balls and sports equipment for residents to play virtually due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). While PSPC provides grant funding for organizations throughout the summer, the Let’s Link Chi initiative will ensure these nonprofits have resources and supports all year-round.

“Our success with the Chicago Fund effort showed us that we had an opportunity to extend grant-making beyond the summer months to help communities lessen the threat of violence during other times of the year,” said Anna Lee, Director of Community Impact at The Chicago Community Trust, a PSPC member. “I’m hopeful that we’ll identify strong nonprofit organizations who are able to create events and safe spaces in our communities that promote cohesion, safety and peace in neighborhoods where it’s needed the most.”

To ensure the funds are directed to community-based organizations that need the financial support the most, the grants will be available to nonprofits with annual operating budgets no larger than $500,000. The grants are expected to support a series of events over an eight-month period from November 2020 to May 2021, which is typically when funding opportunities for these organizations are least available.

“We have been a proud partner of the Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities since its inception in 2016 and are thrilled to see the next iteration of this work come to life in Let’s Link Chi to keep community’s safer year round,” said Tawa Mitchell, Senior Program Officer of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, a member of PSPC. “We have witnessed firsthand how impactful a seemingly small investment can be during the summer months. When passionate, committed, and determined neighbors rally together, gun violence does not stand a chance.”

As part of this initiative to support community-based organizations promoting peace in their neighborhoods, several philanthropy institutions—including the MacArthur Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, the McCormick Foundation, Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, and Craig Leva—partnered with the City of Chicago.

All funds awarded under the initiative will be directed towards activities held on a monthly basis that build community cohesion and promote safety and peace, including youth programming, sports and physical activities as well as activities that promote constructive relationships between police and community residents.

To ensure residents can safely participate in programming while also adhering to the latest public health guidelines, all applicants for Let’s Link Chi will be required to provide details on how their projects will incorporate the latest CDC guidelines to prevent against COVID-19.

“As a non-policing strategy, Let’s Link Chi will foster the relationships, strong community bonds and trust needed for sustained violence reduction,” said Deborah Bennett, Senior Program Officer at the Polk Bros. Foundation, a PSPC member. “It is good to have the City as a partner in directing resources to Chicago’s south and west sides.”

PSPC launched its 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 and promote safety and peace. Over the years, that rapid-response fund has provided $3.2 million in support of 505 projects. Evaluations of the Chicago Fund have found that activities supported build the community and social cohesion necessary for violence reduction.

“We believe by developing a fund that makes investments in community groups year-round, the impact of Let’s Link Chi can mirror the positive effects of the Chicago Fund,” added LauBach.

For more information or to apply, visit https://cct.smartsimple.com/s_Login.jsp. Funding decisions will be announced in mid-October 2020.

Special Online Application Training Session

An online training session for the application process will be held on Monday, July 20, 2020 at 1pm; attendance is not a requirement to apply for funding. Accommodations for people with special needs will be provided upon request. Please RSVP at https://letslinkchi.eventbrite.com.

About the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities

The Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities is a coalition of more than 50 Chicago funders and foundations committed to aligning their funding to support proven and promising approaches to reducing gun violence. To date, members have committed more than $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: www.safeandpeaceful.org.