MacArthur President Julia Stasch reflects on the Foundation’s approach to work in our hometown, the nonprofit organizations we support, and their creative and effective efforts make the Chicago region a better place to live, work, and learn for everyone.
In a recent essay, I characterized 2018 as a period where “in breathtaking convergence, bedrock values, longstanding alliances, workable regimes, standards of decency and care, scientific consensus, and much more are under attack.” Even in this daunting context, in 2018, MacArthur was honored to support creative, courageous, and effective work in Chicago.
Last year, we awarded 129 grants totaling $49.3 million, and a single, long-term $15 million impact investment. Together, these reflect our commitment to:
In her recent Perspectives piece, Elevating Others’ Voices While Finding Our Own, Chicago Commitment director Tara Magner shared our journey to expand our relationships with local, community-based organizations, to listen more, and to bring more value to those relationships, across the five themes that comprise our Chicago Commitment.
Awareness campaign from Leave No Veteran Behind
Brighton Park Neigborhood Council's Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) Violence Prevention program working with at-risk youth.
Natya Dance Theatre company in "Shakti Chakra"
Other local Journalism and Media grantees included the Black Youth Project; Pillars Fund; and Alianza Americas, for Presente, its online civil rights hub serving Latinx youth.
The Environmental Law and Policy Center and Openlands drew resources from our global program on Climate Solutions. The Safety and Justice Challenge, our national effort in more than 50 sites to reduce over-incarceration by changing how American thinks about and uses jails, supported local organizations for reform work here in Cook County, Illinois, and beyond, including Access Living, Roger Baldwin Foundation of ACLU, John Howard Association, and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs received resources for their contribution to reducing global nuclear risk, the aim of our Nuclear Challenges program.
Finally, as a legacy of our past program on migration and the global movement for immigrants, and our concern for immigrant communities in Chicago, we made a special set of ten awards to enhance the capacity of organizations addressing immigration issues in the region.
2018 was our 40th anniversary. Several Chicago grantees were highlighted in our 40 Years, 40 Stories series; they and the others mentioned in this essay are only illustrative of the more than 1,500 local organizations and individuals we are honored to have supported over the years. It is their efforts, and the many fruitful collaborations that form to address our city and region’s challenges, that give us hope for the vision of Chicago as a place where opportunity is equitable, and justice can thrive.
Several years ago, I committed MacArthur to operating more openly and creatively, listening carefully, taking more risk, focusing on justice, helping support others’ ambitions and talents, and directly taking on the issue of the loss of trust in key systems. I share this reflection in the spirit of that commitment and hope that it demonstrates that MacArthur is helping to make real progress solving urgent problems, using all available means—here in Chicago and around the world.
As my time as president of the MacArthur Foundation comes to an end later this year, I see changes in our philanthropic practices that reflect that commitment, and I see much more work to do. As an institution that cares deeply about its hometown, we look forward to supporting the efforts of effective organizations and talented leaders, and to contributing to the partnerships and collaborations that will bring us closer to the reality of a Chicago that works for all.