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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

The Brave Space Alliance Has Helped Thousands Through A Pandemic. Their New South Side HQ Will Help Them Serve Even More

With its new campaign, the Black- and trans-led organization wants to raise at least $800,000 to settle into its new Hyde Park home and fund operations for a year.

Zahara Bassett (center), a director at Brave Space Alliance, a Black- and trans-led LGBTQ center on the South Side, rallies protesters during the Drag March for Change. | Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Zahara Bassett (center) rallies protesters during the 2020 Drag March for Change.
Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — For months, the Brave Space Alliance has been providing food and other resources to thousands of Black and Brown LGBTQ people across Chicago amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, realizing how great the need is in many communities, the Black- and trans-led organization is looking to make their crisis pantry more permanent with its new headquarters in Hyde Park.

With its new Be Brave! building campaign, the organization aims to raise at least $800,000 to settle into its new Hyde Park home and bankroll a year of bills, crisis pantry supplies, distribution costs and other programs.

“We are so grateful for the support given to us lately, and now we need a little more help to sustain this work and keep doing all these things,” said Stephanie Skora, associate executive director at Brave Space Alliance.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all non-essential businesses in mid-March, staff at the Brave Space Alliance got straight to work, Skora said.

Within a few weeks, Brave Space Alliance had opened a crisis pantry and transitioned its services online.

When massive protests broke out after a Minneapolis Police officer killed George Floyd, the Brave Space Alliance opened its doors to protesters, whom local police were arresting by the thousands.

Skora estimated the South Side organization has helped at least 15,000 people since the protests began through its crisis pantry, jail support, protest aid and other resources. Daily food and resource drives brought in donations across the city.

“We have been at the front lines of the rebellion from day one, providing services and resources for Black and Brown queer people on the South and West sides of Chicago,” Skora said.

At the same time, support for Brave Space Alliance has been at an all-time high, Skora said. In the wake of the protests, Brave Space Alliance has become the focus of numerous fundraising efforts.

The group’s crisis food pantry has seen an “overwhelming amount of donations and demand,” allowing staff to partner with other organizations to create pop-up pantries across the city.

“We are a baby organization growing into adulthood really quickly,” Skora said. “Our community loves us, and we have a lot of love for the people in Chicago. We hope that we can raise the money to keep doing this on a larger scale.”

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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