The Field Foundation of Illinois has announced that it is revising its grantmaking strategy to more effectively address the root causes of the challenges Chicagoans face on a daily basis.
After a strategic planning process that included feedback from local nonprofit organizations, input from foundation peers, and training in racial justice, the foundation has committed itself to a Community Empowerment Through Justice, Art, and Leadership Investment strategy. The planning process included the creation of heat maps highlighting quality of life indicators such as poverty, educational outcomes, commuting times, crime, and access to the arts that, considered together, revealed the confluence of poverty, trauma, and divestment in many African, Latino, Asian, Arab, and Native American communities and informed the foundation's new grantmaking program areas.
They include Justice, through which the foundation will move from a focus on direct service investment to funding organizations that work to achieve systemic reform; Art, through which the foundation will provide funding for artistic spaces that bring civic life into divested communities and fuel creativity, intellect, and cultural connections; and Leadership Investment, which will have three components: funding for leadership development organizations in and around Chicago; an award given by the board to organizations in the Justice and Art grantee portfolios; and a Field Foundation internship program for masters of social work students in Chicago.
"These funding categories represent our ethos — our underlying belief — that Chicago is about fighting for a level playing field, informed by stunning creativity, and that our collective success comes down to the Chicagoans who make it all happen," said Field Foundation president Angelique Power. "Justice, Art, and Leadership Investment is a grantmaking model — but more importantly it is our belief system for our city. While we know these new guidelines will close the door on funding for some stellar organizations, we know it will also open the door for others and allow us to invest in neighborhoods that are too commonly divested in."