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This report challenges past narratives suggesting Chicago's civic life is precarious and offers a broader analysis of civic life using a racial equity lens. According to the analysis, race and class differences in civic engagement disappear or reverse when including a wide range of less formal activities and forms of collective organizing practiced among Black, Latinx, and working-class people in Chicago.Since the 1960s, traditional measures of civic engagement have shown declining rates of civic health. These accounts of civic decline often focus exclusively on voting and donating one's time, talent, and income to traditional nonprofit organizations. This report provides new ways to assess civic life in Chicago, including participation in social movements like the immigrant rights movement, the growth in the number of nonprofits established, and social cohesion as captured through the hosting of block parties.Through interviews and analysis of nonprofits in Chicago, the report captures the perspective of organizers, academics, and funders who provide their unique perspectives on the state of civic engagement in Chicago. By framing civic engagement through a racial equity lens, the report provides a broader view of civic participation that can be used to catalyze and drive action.
This memo offers funders potential paths to invest in organizations and movements within the Black-led racial justice ecosystem. It provides principles for giving and highlights priority investment areas and example organizations within those areas.
This Call to Action encourages foundation Trustees to increase the representation of Black leadership among foundations' staff, vendors, consultants and grantees. It emerges from the Association of Black Foundation's (ABFE) initiative, "Leverage the Trust", which promotes the role of Black Trustees in making philanthropy more responsive to Black communities.