Giving Gets Local, Part II: Chicago Looks Ahead
November 29, 2020
This summer saw what many have estimated to be the largest series of public demonstrations in American history. Between the death of George Floyd and the COVID-19 pandemic and recession—which have disproportionately affected Black and Latinx communities—cities around the country have begun to contend with the legacies of racism and inequality in their municipalities.
In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot took aim at these challenges by encouraging the philanthropic and corporate sectors to work together to build a more equitable and just COVID-19 recovery model in the city. In October, Chicago Community Trust launched Together We Rise, a philanthropic organization aimed at spurring an inclusive, resilient, growth-driven COVID-19 recovery. As of November, Together We Rise has already raised more than $25 million. While Together We Rise works to build a sustainable post-COVID world, it remains a separate entity from Chicago’s COVID-19 response fund, which raised an impressive tranche of $35 million in donations for its own needs.
Together We Rise’s unique mandate—to create an equitable COVID-19 recovery and chip away at historic and systemic racism within the city—is bolstered by its diverse, community-led steering committee, which represents the nonprofit, philanthropic, business and community sectors. Together We Rise’s diverse coalition of community stakeholders has worked to develop a philanthropic fund for making catalytic grants and investments, to encourage the private sector to adopt equitable business practices, and to identify public policy opportunities to advance equity in the region.
The organization expects to begin writing grants to community-based organizations in December 2020, as the city heads into what many public health experts expect to be a difficult winter. Two of Together We Rise’s corporate partners, JP Morgan and PepsiCo, have announced new investments into Black and Latinx communities, creating new home-ownership and job training programs, respectively.
At this difficult juncture in American history, Together We Rise’s mandate is more important than ever. With daily COVID-19 caseloads beginning to surpass the 100,000 mark and millions of Americans still out of work or facing reduced hours and underemployment, Together We Rise is working to build a better future for residents in Chicago.
Together We Rise is a critical example of community philanthropy that can be applied to cities across the country. As I wrote in the first part of this series, community organizations are well attuned to their constituents’ needs and challenges. They are local mainstays, deeply entrenched in the communities where they operate and vested in community’s future.
At the Amit Raizada Foundation, we look to work with community philanthropic organizations to catalyze lasting social change at the local level. With a focus on health and wellness, education, and tolerance, we look to local organizations and their incomparable understandings of the communities in which they operate to help us ensure our investments and grants induce the greatest possible change and improve the greatest number of individuals’ lives. In an age in which social service provision is increasingly being undertaken at the macrolevel, community organizations offer a unique perspective informed not by major donors or politicians, but by the people they intend to serve.
In Part 3 of this series, we’ll look at whether this model and its emphasis on local action can be scaled to encompass and impact an even larger cohort of individuals.
If you enjoyed this spotlight piece see our series
Amit Raizada is a forward-thinking entrepreneur and investor whose mastery of investment and growth strategies has helped launch and grow countless successful business ventures across the globe. In 2002, Raizada founded Spectrum Business Ventures which today consists of more than 80 operating companies spanning multiple industries including technology, entertainment, real estate, financial services, hospitality, retail, eSports, fashion and others. Raizada is a lifelong philanthropist with a devout passion for giving back to the community, and in 2017 cofounded Vision Global Foundation, which supports charitable causes around the globe that focus on children and families in need. For more information about Amit Raizada please visit his bio page.