Mutual Aid is Organizing
We hope that you are well and that you have what you need. These times, while filled with uncertainty, remind us that community building and resistance are essential.
It is now clear that the harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is not equally distributed. Individuals who are incarcerated, undocumented, part of the informal economy, living in poverty, attending under-resourced schools, are all facing the dual threats of contracting the virus and an inability to meet basic needs.
Amid the pandemic, Crossroads Fund grantees have stepped up to respond to the lack of safety nets for the most vulnerable. The response is through: mutual aid support to ensure community members have information and survival resources; organizing to free people from Cook County Jail to escape the COVID-19 outbreak; organizing to push Chicago Housing Authority to open vacant public housing to the homeless; and inviting people to share their stimulus checks with those excluded and in need. These mutual aid actions have a political analysis and are not based in a charity framework as articulated here by Dean Spade, a leading proponent of “Solidarity, not Charity.”
Since the March 2020 mandated shelter-in-place order by Governor J.B. Pritzker, we adjusted our grantmaking to shorten the approval time of grants, increased grant dollar amounts, and invited groups to apply to our Critical Response Fund.
Crossroads Fund has led two rounds of rapid response funding cycles. Through the Critical Response Fund, we have given $124,500 to 34 grassroots groups. Read the full list here.
We partnered with local foundations that support community organizing to create a Technology Funders Collaborative Fund. The fund offered support to mitigate the digital divide by providing funds for digital access and accompanying technology in a moment when meeting virtually is a necessity.
Additionally, the Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA) was a month-long fundraising campaign during the month of May to support the work of 43 independent media organizations who are facing revenue shortfalls of up to 85% during this crisis. These media outlets are essential to the many organizations in Chicago building movements for racial, social, and economic justice as the outlets highlight the stories and needs of community members often ignored by major media outlets. Crossroads Fund is providing administrative and fiscal support to CIMA.
Crossroads Fund is also supporting COVID RRT Chicago and GetMePPE Chicago, which are rapid response networks of more than 800 medical students in Chicago who are identifying ways to meet the gaps in prevention of the spread of COVID-19 for critical populations of people. COVID RRT established a strong model for testing for the cornavirus in overnight shelters and is now working closely with public health officials to replicate in more shelters across Chicago. COVID-RRT is also providing testing in the undocumented community and is helping to support decarceration efforts in ICE facilities through a medical-legal partnership. GetMePPE Chicago effectively, efficiently, and equitably distributes both local and crowdfunded donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals and community organizations in need. Similarly, Crossroads Fund is providing administrative and fiscal support to COVID RRT and GetMePPE Chicago.
Finally, we cannot thank you, our supporters, enough -- you came through to make our virtual Seeds of Change fundraiser a success. The week-long celebration included a LIVE DJ set, online silent auction, and awards presentation. On Tuesday, May 5, Crossroads Fund staff hosted a Virtual Grassroots Fundraising Webinar, where we shared lessons learned and best practices. You can find access to the webinar recording on-demand here.
Also, Sarah Best Strategy wrote a blog, "5 Tips for Moving Events Online," summarizing their top takeaways from Crossroads Fund’s pivot online, with embedded social media examples. Read it here.
Times like these clarify our mission to stand in solidarity with those that our government systematically ignores. We are grateful to be in community with you. Please consider a gift to Crossroads Fund so that we can continue to be a reliable funder for change in Chicago.
If you received a stimulus check and it has allowed you to have additional resources, please consider donating it - or a portion of it - to Crossroads Fund. This grassroots stimulus gift will support building movements for racial, social, and economic justice.