CHICAGO — Applications are open for the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities Chicago Fund, which grants small neighborhood groups up to $10,000 to pay for summer events and programs that will keep young people involved in the community.
The Chicago Fund will give $1.5 million this year to neighborhood groups that promote safety and build connections by planning peaceful activities that give residents a secure place to be. Past grantees have organized block parties, community bike rides, performance art events and more.
Applications for 2022 Chicago Fund grants are open until through March 11. Eligible neighborhood groups can get details for how to apply on the Chicago Fund website.
“Chicago’s South and West sides are filled with small organizations that are taking care of their neighbors, keeping neighborhoods safe and helping people feel more connected to each other,” said Deborah Bennett, senior program officer for Polk Bros. Foundation and member of Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. “These organizations know what it takes to strengthen their communities. They need more resources.”
The program aims to boost summer activities in 24 neighborhoods that experience high levels of gun violence, which typically rises in the warmer months. Groups with an annual operating budget of less than $500,000 are eligible if they are in the these neighborhoods:
- Auburn Gresham
- Chicago Lawn
- West Englewood
- Fuller Park
- Gage Park
- East Garfield Park
- West Garfield Park
- Greater Grand Crossing
- Humboldt Park
- Back of the Yards
- North Lawndale
- Little Village
- South Chicago
- South Shore
- Washington Park
- West Pullman
The grant awarded to the 3100 Lexington Block Club in East Garfield Park helped bring together neighbors with a block party with free food and music, and book bags full of school supplies, block club President Theresa McBeth said.
The summer events also allowed neighbors at 3100 Lexington to connect with other block clubs in the area, which makes it easier for people to work together to share resources and opportunities and keep the neighborhood safe, McBeth said. Several neighboring blocks organized a community phone line to share important information with residents.
“If we’re all together, we can share information and start building our neighborhood back up,” McBeth said. “We’re actually trying to bring more blocks together. The main concern is getting all of us together so if anything happens on our blocks we can help each other.”
Boxing Out Negativity, an anti-violence sports and youth organization, used last year’s grant to support community cycling events like the annual Street Love Ride, a Juneteenth concert and a back-to-school event. The Lawndale-based group was growing quickly last year, but its shoestring budget would have made it hard to plan events without the grant, said Julie Globokar, the group’s board chair.
“For small organizations, it really opens the world up for summer events,” she said.
The funds helped the group put on Bike Out Negativity, an event that is “a celebration of Chicago youth” that connects young people to summer sports, activities and programs with local organizations and the Park District before the school year ends, Globokar said. The event had a bike giveaway supported by Working Bikes, a DJ and free food.
The group’s Juneteenth concert gave artists a platform to perform that would also “bring together local talent from different cliques,” Globokar said.
“It was designed strategically to bring all these street groups together … without having some type of violence and most of all to have them work in unity,” said Boxing Out Negativity founder Derek Brown.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: