CHICAGO — The city is teeming with nonprofits, mutual aid groups and organizations that have made it their mission to give back to people in need in and around Chicago.
We’ve rounded up 58 neighborhood initiatives across the city that have provided food, clothes, money and other support to people in need.
This list is not exhaustive — there are so many resources and networks meeting neighbors’ needs, it doesn’t even highlight all the efforts we’ve covered with Block Club.
If you know of any other initiatives not previously covered in Block Club or would like to share updates on efforts we have written about, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Options for receiving or providing help:
Above and Beyond is an outpatient addiction treatment facility that relies on private funding to ensure no one is turned away when in need. The West Side-based facility has created a pantry for neighbors in need. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
A Home Within, which has a Chicago chapter, supports children who are in or who have gone through foster care by matching them with therapists who can provide mental health care. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
The AIDS Foundation of Chicago advocates for people living with or vulnerable to HIV and AIDS. It helps people get tested for HIV and connects those with HIV to health care. You can volunteer opportunities and make a monetary donation online. Website.
The American Indian Center works to preserve Native American culture and help Indigenous people in Chicago and beyond. It has a year-round educational program for youth and provides services like free food to neighbors in need. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Asian Youth Services was founded to assist refugee families fleeing from genocide, war and oppression in Southeast Asia. It provides tutoring services and mentoring relationships to youth in Albany Park. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Avondale Mutual Aid provides various services, including getting items to people in need with infants and people experiencing homelessness. You can volunteer or make donations. The group shares updates on Instagram. Website.
Bernie’s Book Bank provides free, quality books to underserved children in and around Chicago. Every child who participates gets a free bag of books every year. The organization has given away more than 20 million books so far. You can donate new and gently used books at more than 120 locations. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Brave Space Alliance is a Black- and trans-led LGBTQ center that is based in Hyde Park but works with people throughout Chicago. It runs a community pantry for people in need, offers monetary assistance to trans people of color and created a makeup room where eligible people can pick up makeup for free, among other services. You can volunteer. You can donate items or money. Website.
Care For Real is a long-established food pantry in Edgewater that also operates a clothing distribution and a pet food pantry. During the pandemic, Care For Real opened a Rogers Park food pantry and a drive-through food distribution. You can donate items. Website.
Chicago Cares works to help Chicagoans find volunteer opportunities so they can connect with neighbors and become more involved in their communities in the hopes of ultimately building a more equitable city. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Chicago Community Jail Support is a mutual aid project run by volunteers to help people being released from Cook County Jail and their loved ones. The group provides people with clothing, phone calls, snacks, safe transportation home, emergency housing and other goods and services. You can make donations of items or money. You can volunteer in person or from home. Here are more options for giving. Website.
Chicago Hopes For Kids provides educational support for kids living in Chicago shelters. It has after-school and summer programs, among other opportunities, and kids get help with homework and reading. You can volunteer. You can donate. Website.
Chicago House works to empower people living with or vulnerable to HIV and AIDS. It focuses on providing reliable housing to those in need as it aims to be part of an effort to get to zero new HIV/AIDS infections by 2030. You can find ways to donate online. Website.
Chicago Roo Crew is a grassroots group that rescues and finds permanent homes for homeless roosters and hens in and around Chicago. You can make a monetary donation to the group to help it pay for chickens’ veterinary bills. Website.
The Chinese Mutual Aid Association provides a variety of services — including adult education, citizen and immigration help and youth programs — to low-income immigrants and refugees. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Community Care Collective in the 33rd Ward started by helping migrants in the area, but it has expanded its resources to help more people. You can volunteer. You can donate supplies and make a monetary donation. Website.
Cook County Health Foundation works to support Cook County Health so all people — including those without insurance — can receive health care. Here are ways to can help. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
The Crib provides emergency housing and other services to young Chicagoans, with many of its residents identifying as LGBTQ+. It is run by the Night Ministry. You can make a monetary donation online. Website.
The Friendship Center works to provide food access and other resources to neighbors in need on the Northwest Side. It provides hot meals, groceries, pet supplies and more. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation and donate supplies. Website.
Grace Housing Complex is an economic and community development organization that provides low-income families with healthy food, support services, development opportunities and affordable housing in the Chicagoland area. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
The Greater Chicago Food Depository provides food to people in need and has supplied pop-up food pantries on the South and West sides throughout the pandemic, from South Shore to Bronzeville to Little Village. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Gyrls in the H.O.O.D. Foundation provides Chicagoland girls with a variety of services, including providing reproductive and sexual health education so they can make informed decisions. You can read about how it created a shelter for young women here. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Healthy Hood works to end the life expectancy gap between underserved and high-income communities by providing residents in need with resources and programs that will cultivate their minds, bodies and consciences. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Howard Brown Health provides affirming health and wellness care to LGBTQ+ people. It serves more than 40,000 people per year, with programs covering everything from primary medical and dental care to services for youth and older people. You can find volunteer opportunities and make a donation online. Website.
Invisible 2 Invincible (i2i) is an organization that aims to celebrate and affirm LGBTQ+ Asians and Pacific Islanders living in the Chicago area. The group supports immigrant and refugee issues, reproductive justice, racial justice solidarity work and family acceptance of LGBTQ+ Asians and Pacific Islanders. You can find volunteer opportunities and donate online. Website.
The Kenwood Oakland Community Organization supports low-income and working families and works to develop leaders to build up communities and improve quality of life for residents. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Lambda Legal Illinois is the local branch of a national legal organization that advocates for the rights of LGBTQ+ people. It provides free legal representation to clients and works to change public policy to better protect LGBTQ+ people. You can find volunteer opportunities and make a donation online. Website.
The Lyte Collective recently opened a $1.8 million community center to provide a safe space to youth experiencing homelessness. It provides them with meals, laundry facilities, safe item storage and more. Here are ways to help. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Love Fridge is a mutual aid group that helps neighbors create free fridges and pantries in Chicago neighborhoods. People can leave food donations at the fridges and people in need can stop by to get supplies. You can volunteer. You can host a fridge. Website.
Masjid al-Rabia is a person-of-color-led and LGBTQ+-affirming Islamic community center that provides resources and support to marginalized Muslims, including those who are LGBTQ+. It helps people access food, runs a free community library, sends free care packages nationally to incarcerated Muslims. You can find volunteer opportunities and make a donation online. Website.
The Middle Eastern Immigrant and Refugee Alliance supports refugees coming to the Chicago area while ensuring it preserves Middle Eastern culture. It helps refugees and immigrants access services like health care and public benefits. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
The Mobile Migrant Health Team provides health care to migrants. You can make a monetary donation.
Molasses is a collective of Black transgender artists supporting fellow Black trans people. Members and donors contribute to services like direct monetary aid and self-defense classes. You can read our story about the collective’s efforts here. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
The Network is a group dedicated to improving the lives of people impacted by domestic violence through education, public policy and advocacy. The organization created a Crisis Response Fund that directly gives cash assistance to survivors of gender-based violence. Here’s how you can donate or otherwise support its work. Website.
New Life Centers is working with other local organizations, including the Chicago Furniture Bank and Cradles to Crayons Chicago, to get clothing and furniture for migrants. You can donate items. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Not Me We is a South Shore-based community group that is fighting for housing protections in South Shore and Woodlawn and provides mutual aid to neighbors in need. It gives away supplies through its regular Feed the Babies events, among other distributions. DM on Instagram to ask about donation opportunities. Website.
Nourishing Hope, previously known as the Lakeview Pantry, was founded by Jo Bolger decades ago to combat inequity in the neighborhood. It has seen record-breaking requests for food assistance during the pandemic. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
One Tail at a Time is an animal shelter that helps dogs, cats and rabbits find permanent homes and provides medical care to homeless animals. It also runs a pet mutual aid network so owners in need can get supplies for furry family members. You can volunteer. You can provide a temporary home to an animal by fostering. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Pilsen Food Pantry provides food and essentials to people, particularly migrants. You can donate clothing, sleeping bags and other items by emailing email@example.com. You can volunteer. You can make a monetary donation. Website.
Pilsen Social Health Initiative provides a variety of resources — a food pantry, a free library, mutual aid and more — to fight poverty and help neighbors. You can read about its work here. You can donate. Website.
Red Door Shelter is a no-kill shelter that helps foster and adopt out cats, dogs, rabbits and, occasionally, a stray duck or chicken. You can provide a temporary home to an animal by fostering. You can donate supplies or money. Website.
The Resident Association of Greater Englewood, known as R.A.G.E., provides a multitude of services around Englewood, promoting businesses, creating neighborhood murals and exploring new ways of empowering residents. It works to promote relationships among neighbors and address community problems. You can become a member of R.A.G.E. or make a monetary donation. Website.
The giving season is about much more than giving amazing local gifts to friends and family, it’s also about giving back to the community as a whole — be it with donations, time, or acts of service. Share Our Spare, a nonprofit dedicated to providing essentials to children between the ages of 0 and 5 in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, is a great place to start.
The group is the only organization in Chicago focused on recirculating gently used baby items like Pack ‘n Plays, high chairs, strollers and more. Share Our Spare is the largest essentials bank in the Chicago area — and diapers, wipes, and cold weather essentials are the organization’s greatest current needs. If you’re able, support Share Our Spare’s mission of ensuring every area child age five and below has the essential items they need to support their health and development to equip them for a strong start.
The Southwest Collective is a coalition of groups based on the Southwest Side that are trying to build community while tackling issues related to development, crime and placemaking. You can volunteer and donate items or money. Website.
TPAN is an Edgewater-based organization providing programs and support services for individuals living with and vulnerable to HIV since 1987. TPAN publishes a nationally distributed HIV treatment and health magazine, Positively Aware, and runs the annual Ride for Life Chicago bicycling event, this year billed as Victory Lap Chicago. You can find volunteer opportunities and ways to donate online. Website.
Trikone Chicago works to create a supportive, affirming environment for LGBTQ+ South Asians in and around Chicago. It hosts film festivals, cultural nights, awareness campaigns and other events. You can find volunteer opportunities online. Website.
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