Big Change Endowment


Announcing: the Big Change Fund Partnership Opportunity with Crossroads Fund



Since 1981, Crossroads Fund has been THE institution investing in the most promising, innovative social change models in the Chicago area. We were founded by a group of young people with a commitment to the vision of a community foundation that would be controlled by community members. We have grown our capacity to raise and direct funds to frontline social justice issues, helping fuel the efforts of courageous leaders who are focused on change, not charity.

Our ground-breaking model brings community members to the heart of decision-making at Crossroads Fund. We award approximately $685,000 annually and our connection to communities allows us to play a role beyond that of a funder—we serve as a convener, advocate and mentor for our grantees and with nascent social justice movements in the Chicago area.

Help us encourage BIG CHANGE! We want to raise $2 MILLION to promote justice in our communities for years to come.


The movements we support are not bankrolled by corporate interests or anonymous billionaires, but rely on Crossroads Fund and our community of more than 1,000 donors to help underwrite the work they do. Making change requires commitment, energy, vision, and above all, the courage to face adversity, and we work alongside our grantees to make sure that we are directing resources to where they will do the most good.






IN 2007...


Crossroads Fund received a $1.15 million gift to establish a flexible endowment fund, which helped us to stabilize our work and support our grantees during the economic turmoil of the past few years. This endowment allowed Crossroads Fund to: • Maintain strong continuity within our grantmaking programs, by preserving support for our core grantees when they needed it the most. • Take advantage of new opportunities, including supporting the Occupy Chicago movement when it emerged in the fall of 2011, and funding legal and medical teams who served the NATO protests with grants outside of our regular funding cycle. • Maintain our stability as a fund by retaining staff and even restructuring to add a position dedicated to building the visibility of Crossroads Fund and expanding our donor base.




We are looking to grow our strength and longevity through a campaign to add to our endowment with the creation of the Big Change Fund. Our goal is to raise $2 million over the next five years. With additional annual funds of approximately $100,000, this endowment will help Crossroads Fund: • Strengthen our infrastructure and our fundraising capacity, so that we can continue to serve as a resource while expanding our ability to support racial, social and economic justice in the Chicago area. • Take more risks as a funder, as a stable source of investment income will give us the freedom to fund politically controversial issues. • Be even more responsive to the external political climate and immediate concerns regardless of where they fall in our funding cycle. • Support grantees with multi-year grants and commit to longer-term funding programs. • Initiate movement-building projects with grantees, including bringing groups together for cross-issue discussions, strategy sessions, supporting collaborative proposals for funding, and more.




We are proud of what has been accomplished with the relatively modest resources of Crossroads Fund. We are also humbled by the challenges before us. Racial, social and economic injustice will not be easily resolved, and as long as these injustices persist, there is a role for Crossroads Fund. Crossroads Fund is a true public foundation—we are accountable to the communities of Chicago because our donors come from all of these communities. Now, we are reaching out to ask our donors to help us continue nurturing and supporting lasting and profound change, making a significant impact for social justice in the Chicago area. We invite you to join us in increasing our capacity to do this work through a gift to the Big Change Fund.

Your gift to the Big Change Fund supports the work of our grantees today—but it also leaves a legacy for promoting social change work in the future.




At Crossroads Fund, we have spent our entire history investing in grassroots movements—supporting young people, people of color and the disenfranchised in their work for progressive social change. Some of the groups and issues we have supported to success include:


• The abolition of the death penalty in Illinois.

• The immigrant rights movement, from solidarity work in the 1980’s to the Immigrant Youth Justice League today.

• The growth of workers’ rights centers and strategies.

• ADAPT’s coalition work to pressure the CTA to become accessible to people with disabilities—even before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

• Groups which are inspired by and have continuity with the Civil Rights Movement, including the ongoing work of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Chicago Freedom School.

• Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movements, including Gay Horizons (now the Center on Halsted), the AIDS movement and groups who worked for passage of important state laws to protect the rights of LGBTQ people.

• The growth of important community institutions like the Chicago Women’s Health Center, Chicago Women in Trades and Korean American Resource and Cultural Center (KRCC).


While we are proud of our grantees’ successes, we are one of the very few foundations that will take a risk on start-up organizations, including groups that are mobilizing community members for the short term and groups who never intend to institutionalize. And because social justice victories don’t come easily, some of the new groups that we have taken a chance on just don’t make it over time. Even in the groups that fail, we are helping to foster more engaged, active and experienced activists for the long haul.




We are experiencing a dangerous time where corporate interests have been granted unprecedented legal authority to pour money into advancing a conservative agenda. We live in an environment of increased restraint on our civil liberties, increased attacks on the rights of all at the ballot box, and a concentration of wealth that has not occurred since the Gilded Age of the late 1800’s. Recent statistics show that foundation support for structural change efforts, or social justice philanthropy, made up only 12% of all foundation giving. Foundation giving to people of color groups had even lower figures, with only 7.8% of money going to ethnic and racial minorities and 1% directed to immigrants and refugees.¹ Communities of color are not alone in being underfunded—only 0.2% of foundation funding was allocated to groups serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.² It is critical that Crossroads Fund, our donors and our grantees, provide a strong counterweight to this neglect, and continue to build organizing for racial, social and economic justice. It has never been more important to put resources into the work of transforming communities.

An investment in the Big Change Fund will provide a flexible, reliable source of support for the inspiring groups that have the power to make a lasting impact on all of our lives—and into the future. We hope you will join us today.


The founders of Crossroads Fund had a vision that a community foundation could support small grassroots groups and create big change. Three decades and six million dollars in grants later, we can see the results: an end to the death penalty in Illinois, wheelchair accessible public transportation, historic improvements in labor law, immigration policies, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and more. Now you have a chance to support the Big Change Fund, and invest in the movements making history for the next 30 years.