Closing the ‘giving gap’ is important to city’s health and vitality

With our emphasis on Chicago’s South and West sides, we are doing what we can to uplift philanthropy to organizations led by women and Black, Indigenous and other people of color.

SHARE Closing the ‘giving gap’ is important to city’s health and vitality
A pedestrian walks past a mural of the Chicago skyline November 2022 near the intersection of South California Avenue and West Polk Street in the East Garfield Park neighborhood.

A pedestrian walks past a mural of the Chicago skyline near the intersection of South California Avenue and West Polk Street in East Garfield Park.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“What we learned about gratitude … is that so many people had a hand in our success.”

This quote from former First Lady Michelle Obama is one we feel aligned with during this season of gratitude.

Nonprofits continue to do yeoman’s work tackling entrenched and systemic inequities in our society. Achieving tangible solutions is more challenging because of the very real disparities in revenues and assets allocated to Black-led organizations — the “giving gap,” which extends to both race and gender.

What should foundations do to advance the needs of the Black community? What do Black-led nonprofits recommend regarding those needs? How does racial equity play a part in the current giving landscape? And what is the long-term outlook for Black philanthropy? For us, these are more than questions. They are our action items.

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Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy (CAAIP) advocates for equitable, effective philanthropy in African American communities. The Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) invests in women and girls as catalysts, building strong communities for all. Forefront supports our missions. Our shared goal is to build equitable communities where we can all thrive.

Giving targeted to women and girls is less than 2% of all philanthropic support. CFW is among the few groups providing general operating support and investing in hyper-local organizations and community groups led by Black, Indigenous and other people of color. Forefront serves as a convener to unite Illinois’ social impact sector to collectively solve our most intractable problems. CAAIP advocates for investments in Black communities and expanding leadership opportunities in the social sector.

With our emphasis on the South and West sides, we are doing what we can to also uplift BIPOC and Black philanthropic giving. Our partnership shines a light on Black giving that is important for the health and vitality of our city.

While our organizations are vulnerable to the threat of an economic downturn, our goal remains to support our constituents, share their stories, continue to build resilient communities and create a united and thriving social impact sector that has a transformative impact on well-being and economic security and promotes equity across the region.

We encourage you to learn more. To visually experience how Black philanthropy has evolved over generations, join CAAIP for the groundbreaking The Soul of Philanthropy – Reframed and Exhibited, opening at the Cultural Center in February.

Jessyca Dudley, former director, Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy; Felicia Davis Blakley, president and CEO, Chicago Foundation for Women; Monique B. Jones, LCSW, president and CEO of Forefront.

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