Our Grantees


#FightForDyett Rally and March to Obama's House. Photo by movement photographer Sarah-Ji 


Crossroads Fund is proud to announce that in 2016 we gave out $508,037 in grants to 79 groups working for social change across a spectrum of issues.  Although the following list categorizes grantees based on one primary focus, grantees’ work is rarely limited to a single issue area. Most work across issues and prioritize the multiple needs of their diverse constituents. A notation after the grantee description indicates from which grant program(s) they received funding. Programs include the Seed Fund (SF), Technical Assistance Fund (TA), Youth Fund for Social Change (YF), Emergency Fund (EF) and Partner Funds (PF), which include pooled funds and donor advised funds.  This year, we also specify if grants came from one of the following named Partner Funds: the GRAM Fund (GRAM) which supports women and girls, rights for Arab Americans, and youth projects; the Eleuterio Fund (Eleuterio) which supports community-based arts, education, peace activism, reproductive rights, the Chicago Youth Storage Initiative (CYSI), a collaboration housed at Crossroads Fund that provides storage spaces for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness, the Cathy Cohen Black Youth Leadership Award (Cathy Cohen), which supports black-led youth organizing work around social justice issues affecting their communities and families, the Vernita Gray Fund (Vernita Gray), which supports LGBTQ youth and homeless LGBTQ youth, and She100, a group that pools resources to make grants to initiatives which strengthen the power and presence of all Chicago LBTQ women.  In 2016, grant amounts ranged from $500 - $26,374, and the average grant was $6,400. Unless otherwise noted, the grants are for general operating support.














70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green is a documentary centered on the destruction of public housing in Chicago, particularly Cabrini Green. Funding supports an educational study guide, website updates and community engagement around screenings of the film. (TA)


Center for Immigrant Resources and Community Arts (CIRCA) Pintig is a Filipino arts organization dedicated to organizing immigrant communities through plays that reflect the current immigrant narratives, drawing on historical struggles and the power of resilience. (SF)


Chicago Palestine Film Festival exhibits and promotes films about Palestine or by Palestinian directors that address current issues in the region and portray the daily lives of Palestinians. They are a critical educational resource. (GRAM, SF)


Honey Pot Performance is a feminist creative collaborative that has cultivated an approach to performance that examines identity, belonging and differences in lives and cultural membership through a social justice lens. (SF)


Illinois Humanities Council programs broaden public involvement in civic dialogue, deepen the quality of community conversation and reflection, increase public access to the humanities by lowering barriers to participation and bring humanities activities to unexpected places. (Eleuterio) 


Jarochicanos is a youth-driven arts collective that engages in traditional music from Veracruz-Mexico. Participants explore identity and self-expression and use performance to support local social change movements. (SF)


The Chicago Light Brigade provides radical arts, education, and creative direct action resources to grassroots organizations. This is done through skill sharing in using LED lighted letters to create lit banners, and the use of projection and other lit props for direct action purposes, while advocating for non-violence tactics. (TA)



Alliance for Community Services is an alliance between people that depend on Medicaid, disability services and other human services organizing with front-line human services employees to resist an austerity agenda that leads to privatization of public needs. (SF)


Alliance of the Southeast is a multi-issue, power-based community organizing group composed of member institutions on Chicago’s Southeast side. Their campaigns focus on anti-violence, community safety, housing, community benefit agreements, youth leadership and education. (SF, TA)


Blocks Together is a multi-issue social justice organization on the West Side of Chicago addressing affordable housing, public education, economic development, participatory budgeting and other community issues. Grants include support for their youth-led restorative justice campaign. (YF, SF)


Chicago Honey Co-op is a member-owned beekeeping cooperative that provides economic development opportunities for the underemployed while promoting sustainable urban agricultural practices. (PF)


Chicago is Not Broke a publication of Civic Lab, is a collection of short articles by local experts and activists on ways the city of Chicago can save money and generate major revenue, with a goal of refuting the scarcity-centered narrative around the Chicago budget. This grant funds community outreach and education. (TA)


Garfield Park Community Council organizes residents of Garfield Park to bring about changes in housing policies while addressing issues related to lack of city services and resources. They also organize around issues of food access and economic development. (SF)


Chicago Student Action (formerly known as IIRON Student Network) is a grassroots student power organization that recruits and trains college-based students around campaigns related to campus living wages, fair financial aid practices, ending racial profiling by university police, and divestment from fossil fuels. (SF, TA, GRAM)


Metro Chicago Merger Study is a research project that investigates the use of merger strategies in the metropolitan nonprofit sector, as a tool to build organizational effectiveness and impact. (TA)


Network 49 is a group of neighbors in the 49th Ward of Chicago who are working for progressive social change around local civic projects and equitable community development. This grant supported a strategic planning retreat for core leaders. (TA)


Northside Action for Justice is a multi-issue membership based organization working in Uptown and Rogers Park on living wage, job creation, affordable housing, preservation of quality public education, public safety and economic justice issues. (SF)


Responsible Budget Coalition is a coalition of over 200 organizational members statewide who are concerned about state budget and tax issues. This grant supported a State of OUR State advocacy event in Springfield designed to push the state government to pass a fully funded state budget. (EF)


Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP) organizes primarily African American tenants, youth, and consumers of mental health services in the Hyde Park-Woodlawn neighborhood to address housing, gentrification, healthcare and criminalization of youth. Grants included funding for the youth-led Trauma Center campaign, which won a commitment from the University of Chicago to build the first Level One Trauma Center on the South Side in over 25 years. (GRAM, SF, YF)



Ixchel Families for Equitable Education and Environmental Justice is a community-based organization in Cicero that is working on environmental justice and education issues in their community through leadership development, research and organizing. (SF)


People for Community Recovery, a community-based environmental justice organization, addresses environmental pollution, the adverse impact of Chicago Housing Authority public housing policies, and social justice issues in the Riverdale community. (SF)



Bloomingdale Family Program organizes parents to advocate for early childhood education policies that value a curriculum based on creativity, culture, history and critical thinking as opposed to one based in high-stakes testing. (PF)


Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce includes classroom teachers, parents, educators, students and community activists from across Chicago. They produce resources and alternative curriculum based in social justice movements that addresses the inadequacy of current curriculum used in most urban schools. (TA)


Coalition to Revitalize Walter H. Dyett High School is a group of parents, teachers, educators, and community residents that campaigned to keep Dyett High School open, the only public, open-enrollment high school in Bronzeville. They organized a 34-day hunger strike that successfully pressured CPS to reopen the doors of Dyett, and continue to fight for equitable education in their neighborhood. (Don Erickson Synapses Award) 


Parents 4 Teachers is an all-volunteer organization that brings together teachers and parents to fight for quality schools for all children by organizing against underlying causes of inequality i.e. institutional racism, social and economic inequity and corporate privatization of public resources.  (SF)


Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is a sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate. They work to improve women’s health and safety, prevent unintended pregnancies, and advance the right and ability of individuals and families to make informed and responsible choices. (Eleuterio)


Raise Your Hand is a coalition of parents and concerned citizens advocating for quality public education for all children in Chicago. They provide information on education policies, promote civic engagement, conduct research and create public spaces where parents, teachers and the community work together. (SF)



Black and Pink Chicago is a collaboration of former LGBTQ prisoners and their allies working together to stem the violence experienced by prisoners and especially by LGBTQ prisoners, and to end the use of solitary confinement.  This is done through advocacy, education, direct services and organizing. (SF)


Chicago Community Bond Fund operates a revolving fund that pays bond for people charged with crimes in Cook County and provides education on the role of bond in the criminal legal system while advocating for the abolition of money bond and other forms of pretrial punishment. (SF, PF)


Citizen Advocacy Center utilizes community lawyers to engage residents in DuPage County and beyond in building democracy through community organizing, coalition building, legal advocacy, civic education, and litigation to make government more accountable, accessible and transparent. (SF)


Community Center for Survivors and Families of Police Torture is result of the Chicago City Council’s passage of the Ordinance for Reparations for Burge Torture Victims.  Survivors of police violence, family members, and others will use the space for organizing, generational healing processes and cultural exchange. (SF, GRAM)


First Defense Legal Aid provides free legal counsel to individuals in neighborhoods with high police interaction while they are in police custody. In addition, they provide a Hotline Program, “Know Your Rights” trainings, education, and advocacy for a fair criminal justice system. (SF, TA, YF)


National Lawyers Guild Chicago Chapter is an association of Chicago lawyers, law students, and legal workers who use the law to advance social justice and support progressive social movements. This grant supported a training on organizational leadership development and capacity building. (TA)


United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent conducted a two-day mission in Chicago to investigate allegations of racial discrimination, racism and related intolerances faced by people of African descent. This grant, managed by Blocks Together, funded preparation and logistical support for the mission and also supported local organizations in bringing testimony to the working group. (EF) 


Women’s All Points Bulletin is composed of women survivors of police violence who advocate for more civilian oversight of law enforcement, provide testimony to local, national and international bodies and engage in public awareness of police violence. (SF, EF)



Christian Peacemaker Teams trains and places violence-reduction teams in crisis situations and militarized areas around the world and reports to the larger world community on these atrocities. These teams also support local peacemaking efforts through nonviolent direct action and public witness. (SF)


Committee for Just Peace in Israel and Palestine works for a just and peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through public education, civic participation, direct action and advocacy. (SF)


National Boricua Human Rights Network raises awareness of human rights issues facing the Puerto Rican community, including political prisoners and the preservation of civil liberties, while also focusing more broadly on issues of immigration reform and international economic sanctions. (SF)



Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE) organizes the Filipino community through grassroots education, actions, and direct services. Their work focuses on comprehensive immigration reform, youth development, health outreach and an Illinois Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. (SF)


Chicago Religious Leadership Network organizes congregations and people of faith to respond to injustices experienced by undocumented immigrants through the use of public witness, education, and political advocacy. (SF, TA)


Community Activism Law Alliance brings together lawyers and community activists to increase the capacity of and the use of the law toward achieving systematic changes. These partnerships include organizations working on immigration reform, street economies and with day laborers. (SF)


Immigrant Solidarity DuPage is a volunteer-driven organization in DuPage County working on issues related to immigration, bilingual education, police accountability, workers struggles and community health issues. (SF)


Lanzate was a Chicago convening organized by Mijente, a new national organization that works to create a shared political home for immigrant and US born Latinx and Chicanx people. This grant supported the planning and coordination of Lanzate, which brought together organizers from across the country to launch a pro-black, queer, feminist Latinx and Chicanx agenda and plan of action for 2016. (TA)


No More Deaths is a humanitarian organization based in southern Arizona dedicated to stepping up efforts to stop the deaths of migrants in the desert and to achieving the enactment of a set of Faith-Based Principles for Immigration Reform. (PF)


Northern Illinois Justice for our Neighbors provides free, high quality immigration legal service, education and advocacy in Aurora, Chicago and Rockford. (SF)


Organized Communities Against Deportation (OCAD) works with individuals and families to fight harmful immigration enforcement practices through organizing, advocacy and direct action.  This is done through education, resources for immigrants facing deportation, reporting on immigration raids and working with elected officials to call for an end to raids on immigrant communities. (SF, TA, PF)


Proyecto de Accion de Los Suburbios del Oeste (PASO) serves the Latino community of West Cook County.  They focus on immigration reform, immigrant integration at the municipal level, know your rights trainings, community civic participation and other local campaigns against practices that adversely impact the community. (SF, EF)



750 Club provides stable housing, apartment by apartment, for individual queer youth to support them while they go to school and work. It also helps connect them to adult role models and mentors.  (She100)


Affinity Community Services serves African-American lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in Chicago. They combine direct services and community-building with advocacy/activism, with a focus on coalition building, civic engagement, immigration reform, health and wellness and leadership development. (SF)


Center on Halsted’s Silver Fork Program provides free, in-depth training in the hospitality industry for people who are un- or underemployed. The curriculum combines employment readiness and culinary skills training from well-known chefs in Chicago with intensive case management services to place students in jobs after graduation. (She100)


National LGBTQ Taskforce hosts the annual Creating Change Conference, the largest annual gathering of LGBTQ activists in the US. This grant supported organizing work at the conference and provided scholarships so members of Chicago-based LGBTQ and progressive organizations could attend. (TA)


Queer Youth Exploring Spirituality (Q-YES) provides a safe space for LGBTQA youth to explore spirituality while engaging in leadership development, service learning and job training, while enhancing spiritual development and self-love. (She100)

The Legacy Project is an organization focused on sharing the LGBTQ community’s critical role in human history. This grant supported the Legacy Wall, a traveling exhibit comprised of over 100 biographies of LGBTQ individuals that will be shown all around the state of Illinois. (She100)


Transformative Justice Law Project is a volunteer-run collective of lawyers, activists and organizers committed to gender self-determination, transformative justice and prison abolition. They provide direct legal services for transgender/genderqueer individuals in and outside of prison and resources and training curriculum for lawyers and social workers, while organizing for policy change. (SF)


Transgender Oral History Project is a community-driven project that promotes a diversity of stories from within the transgender and gender variant communities by supporting members who wish to share their stories. They document people’s experiences, teach media production skills and empower members. (SF, TA)



Asociacion de Vendedores Ambulantes organizes street vendors to ensure that they are able to sell their food without fear of police harassment. They successfully advocated for an ordinance that legalizes street vending, and are now working to construct a cooperative kitchen where vendors can share resources. (SF)


Centro de Trabajadores Unidos is an immigrant-run organization on the Southeast side of Chicago that educates workers on their rights and develops leadership within the immigrant community, while participating in broader efforts for systemic reform around wage theft and immigration. (SF)


Chicago Community and Worker’s Rights is an organization led by workers, for workers, dedicated to educating, building leadership and gathering resources for collective strategies of resistance against labor rights abuses, just living conditions, and emergency support for workers in crisis. (SF)


United Taxi Drivers Community Council, with a mostly immigrants membership base, organizes taxi drivers to fight against lease overcharges, excessive police ticketing and unequal industry regulation by strengthening their collective rights. (SF)



A Long Walk Home uses art therapy, visual and performing arts to engage young girls in campaigns to end dating and sexual violence/harassment against women and girls, both in their schools and communities. (YF)  


Assata’s Daughters is a grassroots, intergenerational collective of radical Black women who provide mentoring and weekly programming for young Black women around the themes of Black history and ancestry, self-care and mindfulness, the environment, grassroots organizing, resistance, and activism.  They also help connect members to the current Black Lives Matter movement.  (YF, Vernita Gray, Cathy Cohen)


Black Youth Project 100 is an activist, member-based organization of Black 18-35 year olds dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. They do this by building a national collective focused on transformative leadership development, direct action organizing, advocacy and education, and organize around a national agenda to Fund Black Futures. (Lynda Tipton Memorial Award)


Chicago Desi Youth Rising (CDYR) is a summer leadership program for youth who trace their heritage to South Asia and the Diaspora that focuses on history, arts, and movement building for community resilience and youth empowerment. (SF)


Chicago Freedom School works to create a new generation of young people engaged in social justice through leadership development, study of past social movements and hands on engagement. (YF, SF, Vernita Gray)


Chicago Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) History Project hosted a two-day conference, Come, Let Us Build a New World Together, designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mississippi Summer Project and the fight for voting rights.  With over 300 people attending, the conference forged connections between past organizing and current youth activism (YF, SF)


Circles and Ciphers is a youth-led group that fuses restorative justice practices and principles with hip-hop arts and culture. They are engaged in school-based peacekeeping work and city wide campaigns on issues of systemic violence affecting youth of color. (SF, TA, YF, GRAM)


Imagine Englewood IF seeks to empower the greater Englewood Community through teaching youth and families healthy living, environmental awareness and positive communications skills. This grant supported their youth-led “Captains of Change” program which brings young people together to learn about negative conditions in the community and strategically organize around remedies.  (YF)


ONE Northside is a mixed-income, multi-ethnic, intergenerational organization that builds collective power to eliminate injustice through bold and innovative community organizing. This grant supported their Youth Leadership Development and Organizing Project.


{she crew} is a multidisciplinary journaling-to-performance empowerment program for young girls in Chicago, ages 12-14. This grant supports their Summer Intensive curriculum which enhances the confidence of young women through writing, performance and cooking.  (Vernita Gray, GRAM)


Solidarity Studios aims to empower disconnected communities facing similar economic and political injustices by amplifying the voices of local artists and giving them the tools to organize and mobilize their communities locally and globally via music, especially hip-hop. (YF)


The Warehouse Project and Gallery inspires students in the suburb of Summit to share and gather stories from their peers on issues important to youth. Through art (dance, music, theatre, spoken word and visual) youth seek systemic changes that put them at the center of the solutions. (SF, YF)


Youth Creating Awareness on Relationship Equity (Y-CARE) is a program that encourages youth to be leaders in their community, to educate and raise awareness about dating violence, and to build healthy relationships. This grant supported a youth-created Art Show and healing space with pieces developed by middle and high school students that relate to healthy relationships. (YF)


Youth Empowerment Performance Project seeks a safe environment for LGBTQ youth of color experiencing homelessness to explore their history, investigate new ways to address their struggles and celebrate their strengths through theatrical performance pieces. (YF, Vernita Gray, CYSI)


Youth Leadership Team (YLT) is a program of the Arab American Action Network.  Their current campaign is for accountability from local and federal law enforcement agencies on ending profiling of Arab and Muslim communities and organizations in Chicago. (YF, GRAM)


Youth Outlook engages LGBTQ youth in western suburbs of Naperville, Aurora, DeKalb and surrounding areas by providing community education workshops to counteract heterosexism, homophobia and transphobia. (YF, Vernita Gray, SF)




The Chicago Youth Storage Initiative was founded by the Pierce Family Foundation, Knight Family Foundation, Polk Bros Foundation, and the Windy City Times, and is being housed at Crossroads Fund. It is the first coordinated, citywide effort in the U.S. designed to provide physical and virtual storage options to improve the lives of young people experiencing homelessness. The Chicago Youth Storage Initiative will install 250 super-size lockers by the end of 2017. Crossroads Fund is serving as the fiscal manager and providing technical and administrative support to the project. Organizations receiving funding through the Chicago Youth Storage Initiative are listed below. 


El Rescate’s Transitional Living Program at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center is a community-based, grassroots, educational, health and cultural services organization that provides culturally appropriate, identity-affirming housing for homeless LGBTQ youth ages 18-24. This grant funded 30 storage lockers through the Chicago Youth Storage Initiative. 


La Casa Norte meets youth and families experiencing homelessness where they’re at and helps them move along to increased stability. This grant funded the installation of storage lockers in La Casa Corazon, a youth drop-in program site through the Chicago Youth Storage Initiative.

Mercy Home for Boys and Girls serves youth experiencing homelessness in two locations in Chicago. They provide support to current and former residents, community-based mentoring, and life skill development. This grant funded the installation of a storage bin program at their Hay Campus location through the Chicago Youth Storage Initiative. 


Teen Living Programs focuses exclusively on 14-24 year olds who are experiencing homelessness, and offers comprehensive, year-round support services to clients. This grant funded the installation of 24 lockers through the Chicago Youth Storage Initiative. 


Youth Empowerment Performance Project seeks a safe environment for LGBTQ youth of color experiencing homelessness to explore their history, investigate new ways to address their struggles and celebrate their strengths through theatrical performance pieces. Grant funding through the Chicago Youth Storage Initiative supports outreach and youth engagement for the program. 

In addition to giving out grants , Crossroads Fund supported our grantees’ organizational growth and sustainability through Technical Assistance workshops and one-on-one time with consultants on a wide range of topics, from program evaluation and strategic planning to fundraising and communications. We thank Polk Bros Foundation, Cricket Island Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, Pierce Family Foundation, Chicago Foundation for Women, and Woods Fund for their partnership in these programs.

Click to see past grantee lists.