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$500,000 in Emergency Relief Grants Announced for Chicago Nonprofits Serving Low-Income Youth and Families

Written by A Better Chicago on Apr 30, 2020

Media Contact: Danielle Veira, 312.674.7085, dveira@abetterchicago.org

CHICAGO – As a part of its effort to quickly support Chicago-area nonprofits during the COVID-19 crisis, A Better Chicago today announced a second round of emergency relief grants totaling $500,000 for ten low-income youth- and family-serving organizations. The grants are part of A Better Chicago’s recently launched Emergency Relief Fund, through which the organization has distributed $1 million to support Chicago-area organizations in three weeks.

To date, the fund has accumulated nearly $2 million and received hundreds of grant applications from local nonprofits since it began accepting applications on April 6. Applicants represent organizations supporting vulnerable populations across the city, including families with young children, college students, Chicagoans experiencing homelessness and undocumented immigrants. Last week, the fund received a $350,000 donation from Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack and the Bernfield Family.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting Chicago families living in poverty and our communities of color the hardest,” said A Better Chicago CEO Beth Swanson. “The virus itself does not discriminate, but it is deepening the systemic economic disparities across the city. The spread has been exacerbated by the inequality in access to quality health care in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, where there are higher mortality and infection rates. Now is the time for bold, decisive action to ensure lifesaving, essential support goes to our neighbors who will feel the impact of this pandemic for months and years to come. With this latest round of grants, A Better Chicago has released $1,000,000 in just three weeks directly to nonprofit organizations serving our most vulnerable communities.”

A Better Chicago is a nonprofit venture philanthropy fund fighting poverty by investing in initiatives that serve low-income youth. The organizations receiving money through the Emergency Relief Fund provide direct financial assistance, essential goods and services, and innovative educational programming for low-income and Black and Latinx communities. The newest grantees are serving Chicagoans of all ages, including two particularly high-need groups: foster children and homeless families. The slate of grantees is a combination of current A Better Chicago portfolio members and new investments:

  • Bottom Line is a college access program for low-income and first-generation high-school and college students. Funds will go directly to supporting the unmet financial needs of students and to pivoting student recruitment to a fully digital strategy.
  • College Possible helps students prepare for and navigate the college application process and supports them through college graduation. Funds will go to direct financial support for lost wages and tuition expenses and add capacity for student support.
  • Communities in Schools provides dropout prevention programs and services. Funds will go to direct financial support of youth and families to meet their basic needs and to support tele-support systems.
  • El Hogar del Nino offers a variety of services to children and families, including family case management, early childhood education and school-age programming. Funds will go to direct financial support of families to meet their basic needs.
  • iMentor provides programming and mentorship for students to be successful in college. Funds will support students in covering urgent and basic needs, including tuition expenses.
  • Lawrence Hall delivers care and treatment to abused and neglected youth and their families. Funds will go to provide basic needs for youth and families in foster homes, residential treatment facilities, independent living programs and transitional living programs.
  • Metropolitan Family Services provides a wide array of programs and services to strengthen families and help them reach their full potential, focusing on education, economic stability, emotional wellness, and legal assistance. Funds will go to direct financial support of clients and their families, provision of basic necessities, and virtual home visiting.
  • National Louis University is one of the most diverse universities in the Midwest, helping students of all ages and backgrounds achieve their personal and professional goals. Funding will provide emergency financial assistance to students in need and support teaching and other critical services to transition to a fully virtual environment.
  • Primo Center is the largest provider of shelter for homeless women and children in Chicago. Funds will go to provide basic needs, including food, supplies, and equipment, to support remote student learning.
  • Sunshine Gospel Ministries provides youth and family programs, including enrichment, tutoring, college and career preparation, and parent/caregiver skill development. Funds will go to direct financial support.

“The demand is great, and grant applications keep rolling in,” said Swanson. “We will continue to review submissions and get dollars to where they are needed most as efficiently as possible. We encourage Chicago-area nonprofits serving low-income youth and families to apply for funding. We hope that donors will continue to support this critical work and know that 100 percent of all contributions will go directly to relief efforts.”

Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis, and grant decisions will be made within two weeks of submission. Grant amounts and duration will vary based on need, potential impact, and available funds. A Better Chicago’s model maximizes both impact and transparency, ensuring that 100 percent of all funds raised go directly to relief efforts and immediate community needs.

Donors interested in supporting the Emergency Relief Fund and nonprofit organizations interested in applying for funding can visit abetterchicago.org/emergencyrelief.

About A Better Chicago
A Better Chicago is fighting poverty by leveraging the collective power of Chicagoans who want to make our city more equitable for everyone. We raise funds through public donations and direct those resources to support low-income, underserved communities. We find high-potential, high-impact programs and leaders that serve young people from cradle to career. Then, we invest both dollars and strategic support to empower organizations to grow and make an even greater impact. We know that giving our young people the support and tools they need to thrive—a great education, a wage that can sustain a family, the ability to buy a home and live in a safe community—can lead to breaking the cycle of poverty for this generation and generations to come.

Since 2010, we have raised nearly $40 million, invested in dozens of nonprofit organizations and supported over 100 capacity-building projects—ranging from strategic planning to leadership development—to strengthen the organizational capacity of our grantees. In total, our portfolio serves over 37,000 youth annually in the Chicago area. Learn more at abetterchicago.org.

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