Annual Staff Awards Aim to Support Future Leaders

Two organizations that help young Chicagoans overcome challenges through mentorship and skill building will receive the 2021 MacArthur Annual Staff Award. Guitars Over Guns and Ladies of Virtue will receive $50,000 in general operating support for their work to help students become leaders who create positive impact in their communities.

A smiling girl and a man with a gray hat that has a guitar symbol pose for a picture.
Mentor, I.B. (right) with student, Synia W. (left) at a music video production in Chicago.

Guitars Over Guns combines music education and mentorship to help students in vulnerable communities reach their potential as leaders. The curriculum emphasizes social-emotional learning through music and arts instruction and creates safe spaces for youth to express themselves.

A group of women and girls pouring soil into a container to plant flowers.
Ladies of Virtue Gives Back Days are hosted every third Saturday in April, where participants revamped a safe house in Englewood and distributed bags of food.

Ladies of Virtue provides mental health support, mentorship, and career and civic engagement curriculum to prepare Black girls and women, ages 9 to 24, living on Chicago’s South and West sides. Participants work toward college, careers, and becoming change agents in their communities.

Annually since 1989, a committee of Staff volunteers from across the Foundation award two nonprofits the special end-of-year grant. The award recognizes work at Chicago-based and Chicago-serving organizations that may fall outside of our grantmaking guidelines.

This piece was originally published on the MacArthur Foundation’s website.

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