FOR RELEASE: Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities Announces 2018 Grantees


Monday, May 14, 2018

Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities Announces 2018 Grantees

$850,000 in grants to 132 organizations for Summer and Fall programs

CHICAGO — For the third year in a row, neighborhood organizations in Chicago working to reduce gun violence will receive grants to help reclaim parks, streets and public areas and build community cohesion. Last week, the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities (PSPC) awarded 132 grants, totaling $850,000, to fund activities this summer and fall in 19 prioritized communities. Grants range from $1,000 to $10,000.

“With each application cycle, we grow more and more impressed and inspired by the proposals, and the earnestness and eagerness with which these organizations and community residents seek to serve and support their communities,” says Deborah E. Bennett of Polk Bros. Foundation, who oversees the community grants review process for the Partnership.

Over 300 community groups applied for the grants Bennett said, adding, “They were all deserving and inspiring. The movement for a safe and peaceful Chicago is alive and well in our communities. These investments are just one part of a much larger effort to reduce gun violence.”

Each of the prioritized communities will have activities funded for all age groups, starting after Memorial Day and concluding on or before Halloween. Stories of these activities will be featured on the Safe and Peaceful website and, at @safepeacefulchi, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Examples of activities funded include arts programs, mentoring programs, and marches for peace.

The Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities (PSPC) is a coalition of more than 30 Chicago funders and foundations who have collectively committed more than $40 million dollars to support proven and promising responses to gun violence.

The community grants, which are technically awarded by The Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, is one component of a comprehensive strategy that also includes direct interventions with young people at risk, police reforms that are helping rebuild trust with the community and strengthen law enforcement, and gun policy reform.

The community grants began in the summer of 2016 when gun violence in Chicago was spiking.  In its first year, the Fund issued 72 grants totaling $500,000. Last year, the Fund issued 120 grants totaling $850,000.



Sonya M. Lewis, 708-439-0326

Kimberley Rudd, 773-213-6325

Puerto Rican youth, police officers unite over arts and music


This past August, the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance (PRAA) brought teenagers and police officers together for a barbecue event at the Humboldt Park beach. The officers (from the Puerto Rican Police Association and the Hispanic Illinois State Law Enforcement Association) and the students (from PRAA´s Latin Music Project and the Studio Arts Program) had a day filled with food, games and music made possible with funding from The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities.


It was the culminating event for 60 teenagers who had participated in PRAA’s Latin Music Project and Studio Arts Program; music students brought their instruments and performed, while art students showed off their creative design work.  


“It was a way for police officers and our youth to interact in a relaxing environment,” said PRAA´s Director of Development and Programs Rebecca Raab. “They were able to have fun and to get to know each other.”


One of the 10 police officers who attended was inspired to deliver an impromptu speech to the students. “They were very interested in what the police officer had to say,” says Raab. “Their attentiveness was an indicator that everyone was comfortable with each other. We felt that the event was a success.”


Raquel Venado is a writer with Rudd Resources.

A space to build hope

“Restoring hope and giving life to their dreams and aspirations.” –  Khadija Warfield


A space where women and girls can discuss their feelings and alleviate some of the stresses of living in a violent community. A space where they’re given the freedom to imagine what a positive future for themselves and their communities could be.  A space called Black Girls Break Bread, founded in 2016 by Jessica Davenport-Williams, Khadija Warfield, and Jazzy Davenport.


Black Girls Break Bread was awarded the Safe and Peaceful Communities grant to host two fellowship luncheons  that provided  school supplies, school resources and  a meaningful discussion about, “restoring hope and giving life to their dreams and aspirations,”says Warfield.


They also created what they called a ‘wall of hope.’ The women and children in attendance were able to write the things they hope for most on the wall. Their hopes included having a better relationship with their father,  dreams of homeownership, and, of course, visions of a better Englewood. By writing these things, the women and girls of Englewood were able to identify something positive to focus on beyond  the violence they experience  in their daily lives.


They were also able to see that they are not alone in their everyday struggles. They found allies in their neighbors– grandmothers, sisters and aunts– many of whom share similar experiences and hopes themselves.


They shared ideas about what they can do for their community. They highlighted  other organizations that are working on building North Lawndale by promoting positive programming. They invited women of the community to vent freely, to share the lessons they’ve learned along the way, and to share with the younger generations the gems accrued throughout living life. In the course of each luncheon, they did more than have a meal over a conversation, they connected and shared their fears, dreams and hopes.


“As a black people, we come together, we celebrate, we mourn and we connect over food,” says Warfield


Kahlia Evans is a writer with Rudd Resources


This is a story about the Promote Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.


Fall Fashion Show marks the end of summer workshops

Keeping people inspired one workshop at a time.

The Port Ministries of Chicago knows the importance of keeping its community inspired, and it did exactly that this summer with a grant from the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities.  


Port Ministries is located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, and it serves several South Side communities.  In July and August the organization, in a partnership with Mujeres Mutantes, offered a series of weekly events called ‘The People´s School Workshops.’ The workshops had themes such as cooking classes, youth fitness, movies at the port, art classes and more. Some were open to specific age groups, and some were open to anyone who wanted to attend.




The Port Ministries Executive Director David Gonzalez says the grant was divided equally between the leaders of each workshop; some of it was saved for what he calls “the huge end” of the season: a fashion show.


The show, which was first held in 2016, is Gonzalez´ favorite event. He says it is like the stone soup effect, when you start with one ingredient and end up with something so much bigger due to everyone´s participation.


“It´s a community reflection of beauty,” says Gonzalez. “This grant, it literally let us do it.”


The three-hour event took place on October 28 and spotlighted a clothing line created by Mujeres Mutantes member Adriana Peña. She has designed a positive body image collection of 14, one-size-fits-all pieces, which were given to other community artists to paint. The event also showcased the artwork produced during the summer workshops, plus more workshops and music.


Gonzalez says one of the keys to keeping the community so engaged is to remind them how important they are. “I believe if you give someone the power to believe in themselves and to follow their inspirations and passions, they will pick that over any negative in the world.”


Raquel Venado is a writer with Rudd Resources.


Good connections abound when North Lawndale is the dinner-party centerpiece

“I live here, I work here, I create a community here.” – Skyler Dees, Food Artist/Caterer




The menu was enticing: Grilled chicken with a sweet potato hash, served atop fresh roasted fennel with a side of green-bean salad (which had been infused with apple cider vinegar and garlic), finished off by a peach crisp for dessert. Yum!


Yes, the menu was enticing…but the conversation was unforgettable according to the women and girls of North Lawndale who gathered around tables in July 2017 to share their perspectives on navigating life from low-income and impoverished homes. The 35 guests of caterer Skyler Dee’s first “Gourmet Grill” event shared frustrations, dreams and tips on how to make do in a community that has no major grocery store, high unemployment, under-resourced schools and more.


“It was a fun, relaxing event, like hanging out with your girls, even though I didn’t know most people,” said Rochelle Jackson, one of the guests.  Jackson, a 27-year employee of a North Lawndale child welfare agency, added, “I met some new friends, and a lot of wonderful, positive women. It was a safe place – the kind of forum that would be a great experience for parents and caregivers in this community.”


Chef Dees is owner of Skyler Dees Catering Company and a self-described food artist who believes that it’s a myth that North Lawndale residents won’t buy fresh, healthy food.


“It was amazing to see that the meal that I prepared for these guests was the exact same food that other communities, other businesses or other people are afraid to invest in for this community,” said Dees, who received support from The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities to produce two community dinners.


At the women’s dinner, the nutrient-rich menu was the perfect backdrop to conversations led by three entrepreneurs whose businesses are centered on self-care: Alexie Young’s Invizion Colorz, Naimah Muhammad’s Royal Diva Body Butters and Apriel Campbell’s Ivy Care by Apriel.


“They had a great time,” said Dees. “So many people took stuff and learnings away for their families.”


Dees’  Gourmet Grill event for men was held in October.  It was attended by 20 guests who talked about growing up in North Lawndale, not having strong family support, and having a real-life trajectory different from what people said they could have.  Following the dinner, the guests  started an email group to facilitate  networking and support among  the group, especially the younger men, in the coming months.


“Acknowledging self-care as a practice is what makes me an artist. My talent is food.” – Skyler Dees, Food Artist/Caterer


Male guests included a community developer, someone from a local employment network, a social service producer, artists and a local DJ.  


“It was amazing to see the male presence and the positions of power held by men in North Lawndale,” said Dees.


In creating his events, Dees collaborated with groups that included the New Covenant Community Development Corporation, Free Spirit Media, the North Lawndale Employment Network and Neighborhood Housing Services. He  held his Gourmet Grill events at locations that were strategically chosen to give guests “a different perspective on our community,” he said, choosing the two rooftop spaces in North Lawndale – the Skylight Room on Ogden Avenue and Nichols Tower, the 14th-floor space in the former, original Sears Tower. “I wanted them to rise above what they see daily and look out to the whole city.”


He added that making food the centerpiece of the gatherings  allowed “room for people to go deep” in their conversations.


“One of the biggest things is that the dinners encouraged people to look inside their community and see the assets…to see Black women, men and youth as assets,” says Dees.  “People are consistently driving through North Lawndale, saying there’s nothing here. But that’s not true.  North Lawndale is the non-profit capitol.”


Kimberley Rudd is a writer with Rudd Resources.

Working Bikes worked with teens to repair, give away hundreds of bikes this summer


The big warehouse at 24th and Western could easily go unnoticed in the Pilsen neighborhood; there is no dominant signage, no colorful mural and no sweeping awning on the former furniture warehouse. Instead, like a great book with a mediocre cover, the good stuff is within this building’s plain façade: thousands of bicycles and parts, and hundreds of helmets and locks, handled by scores of mechanics and volunteers.  This is Working Bikes, a Chicago nonprofit organization that “rescues” and refurbishes old and unwanted bicycles, and gives them new life as vehicles for transportation, enjoyment and economic sustainability for people across Chicago and the world.


Alongside local and global partners, Working Bikes collects and redistributes about 11,000 bikes a year, with more than half going to benefit people in African and Latin American countries.   


In Chicago, Working Bikes’ mechanics repair about 3,000 bikes a year, which are then sold or given away to fund the organization’s programming, which includes Cycle of Power, a program that offers a bike, helmet and lock to people who are homeless, recent refugees or re-entering society following incarceration.


Paul Fitzgerald is the operations manager for Working Bikes, and it’s his job, among many duties, to look for funding to support the expansion of programs. Fitzgerald applied for a grant from the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities to launch a summer apprentice program for Chicago teens.  “I’m a lifelong Chicagoan and south sider who feels strongly that our global mission is important but we (also) need to be service oriented and engage with young people as best we can,” he said.


Working Bikes received a grant from the Fund, and Fitzgerald was able to hire eight young adults the Little Village, North Lawndale, South Shore, Roseland and Brighton Park communities. Each apprentice each worked 24 hours a week repairing bikes and distributing them at community events; funding allowed four apprentices to extend their work with additional hours, said Fitzgerald, and “a few are still coming back as volunteers” this fall.


Bikes repaired by the apprentices were donated to adults and children at several events this summer:

  • With Esperanza Health Centers and the Englewood 5K organizers, they provided 45 bikes to children in Marquette Park; apprentices matched right-sized bikes with the kids and taught them riding skills
  • Partnering with Slow Roll Chicago, Esperanza Health Centers and Openlands, they participated in a community ride to highlight community gardens and sustainable infrastructure
  • With the Exodus Project,  which works with ex-offenders re-entering the Chicago Heights community, they gave 100 bikes to adults and children at a large weekend picnic
  • With the South Merrill Community Garden, they gave 40 bikes to children at an end-of-summer block party, an event also supported by the Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities
  • With the North Lawndale Boxing League’s “Boxing Out Negativity” program, they hosted free, on-site bike repairs and gave away 20 bikes


“The apprentices were directly responsible for the success of these events,” said Fitzgerald.  “They did public speaking as well, which was great for those not necessarily mechanically inclined, and they all learned about developing community partnerships.”

“What’s most exciting about Working Bikes is that we can look at what we’re doing and see the impact right away,” said Fitzgerald.  “Repair a bike, give it away and give people the tool to improve their lives.”


Working Bikes’ upcoming plans include donating as many as 100 additional bikes to the North Lawndale Boxing League in December 2017, and raising funds for what Fitzgerald calls a “enormous and colorful” mural by artist Hector Duarte, making its big warehouse a lot less non-descript in 2018.


Kimberley Rudd is a writer with Rudd Resources.

Summer camp blends art for kids and job readiness for teens


Ladies of Virtue (LOV) Founder Jamila Trimuel instills virtuous characteristics in young women and prepares them for college, career and adulthood. However, for Summer 2017, Trimuel was determined to create a program that focused on arts, culture and job readiness for young women and men in underserved communities.


“We already had the partnerships with North Lawndale community and the Chicago Park District,” explains Trimuel. “The only problem was we didn’t have the funding.”


So, Trimuel applied to the Safe & Peaceful Communities Fund and won a grant in late May. With the funding, LOV partnered with the Urban Male Network to create an arts and culture summer camp at the Boys and Girls Club in Humboldt Park and Douglas Park.


The program included African dance, field trips to museums, educational guest speakers who discussed health and fitness, and the creation of peace signs.


“We had them talk about what it is to have peace in your specific community, what would you like to see, what is your vision?” she says. “That allowed them to start thinking about how to create peace, even though they’re young, and ways they make a difference in their community.”


The six-week camp was filled with nearly 60 children. But, it also employed teens and adolescents ranging in age from 16-24 who worked at the camp and attended a five-week job readiness program. Trimuel recalls the gratitude of the teens in the job readiness program.


“They would say, ‘I wish this was two hours,’ and that was different for teens because usually they want it to end so they can get back to whatever they were doing,” Trimuel recalls. “So, to hear them say they wish it was longer than an hour was eye opening.”


As the six-week summer program came to an end, Trimuel expressed gratitude that the program was not only able to enrich the lives of youth in the neighborhood through art, but also allow them to have a lasting imprint.


“Now we have 12 teens who have learned job readiness,” she says. “Now, they’re empowered to exalt that as they go back to work and as they go back to school.”


Cassaundra Sampson is a writer with Rudd Resources


·       This is a story about the Promote Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

Little Village teens train, run together

It was an active and busy summer for the Little Village teenagers who joined Chicago Run for a seven-week camp that provided training for the young men and women to run – and finish – the Lung Run 5K.


With funding from the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities and in partnership with Enlace Chicago and Little Village Lawndale High School, Chicago Run was able to have its first summer program in years.  “There was definitely a demand for summer programs,” said Chicago Run Deputy Director Alex Landberg who helped to launch the Little Village Summer Running Club based on the organization’s after-school program Running Mates.


Little Village Summer Running Club met three times a week and participants experienced different activities to improve their endurance and stamina, from running exercises to cross-training to yoga.  They exercised different parts of their bodies to prepare their bodies for the 5k, coached by high school students who belong to Chicago Run´s Alumni Program. 


One of the camp´s highlights was its partnership with the organization World Chicago, which asked Running Club members to serve as Little Village ambassadors to exchange students from Iraq, and as downtown Chicago ambassadors to exchange students from the UK. “It allowed the older students in our group to take on a leadership role and host,” said Landberg. “Seeing some of our students speak in front of that group and represent the program was a cool experience.”




Martín García, an Infinity Math, Science and Technology High School student, first began running through the after-school Running Mates program. When it ended, he says he didn´t know what to do…then he was asked to join the Little Village Summer Running Club. His response? “A definite yes,” he says, adding that the people at the club grew very close during the summer. “We could talk about anything. Everybody knew each other. It was a supportive family,” says García. “It felt like a real home.”


García’s experience with Chicago Run made him want to run in a more competitive level and he is now part of his high school´s cross country team.


The camp came to an end with the much-anticipated Lung Run 5k in Montrose Harbor on August 27. Though they ran as individuals, they celebrated as a team, cheering each other on as they crossed the finish line. “It was powerful to see them come together as a group,” said Landberg. “That sense of accomplishment was really fun to watch.”


Raquel Venado is a writer with Rudd Resources.

Jardincito: Little Village´s little green space

“Little garden, big dreams.”


Do not let Jardincito´s name – little garden – fool you, because the garden community council has big plans for this green space. Located in Little Village, it is one of the few green spaces in this Southwest neighborhood.


Jardincito Nature Play Garden community member Sara Cortés says the community council aims to create a neighborhood-directed nature sanctuary where youth and adults alike can deepen their relationship with the natural world.  As a result, the grant received from The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities has been invested wisely, used to support collaborations with the people who help shape the space and to sustain the garden´s activities.


One of Cortés´ favorite events was a movie night, where they played movies of one of the biggest Mexican movie icons, Mario Moreno “Cantinflas.” That movie night was such a success that the organization decided to buy the projector and screen, and to make plans to screen movies on a regular basis in the upcoming year.


“Little Village is a vibrant community that confronts the root causes of violence by creating alternatives for families and youth to engage with nature in an oasis and with community events that are culturally relevant and fun,” said Cortés.


The organization also was able to support a local arts collective in buying school supplies, which were given away for free as part of a large back-to-school celebration. A youth mariachi group harmonized the event.


This is Ivonne Natzaely Chavez´ second summer working at Jardincito as a Nature Play Guide. She teaches kids to use things from the garden such as rocks and twigs for fun and she teaches kids about plants. She recalls girls using twigs to spell words such as hope and love. “The kids appreciate the space,” says Chavez. “Even if I am not there, they stop by and walk through the little garden with their families.”


Chavez says she likes returning to the garden over the summers because she can see how the kids are growing up.


Jardincito also produces smaller events, such as art workshops, tree planting days and more. Cortés says the community council wants to see the community create deep connections with each other and the environment  “We feel the garden does and will continue to create relationships that nurture healthy and joyous community dynamics.”




Raquel Venado is a writer with Rudd Resources.