Dating back to 1989, MacArthur has awarded special grants every winter to Chicago-based nonprofit organizations based on staff nominations. A cross-Foundation committee of volunteers chooses the recipients based on a simple set of simple guidelines, which include: the organizations must have charitable status and have a physical presence in and serve the communities of the Chicago-area (check out the 2019 recipients).
The primary goal of these awards is to recognize organizations that normally would not fall under the Foundation’s grantmaking guidelines. It also provides the opportunity for staff who do not typically make grants to learn firsthand about this important role of the Foundation. More than 40 organizations have received these staff-nominated awards over the years.
In the midst of a difficult year, we would like to highlight the 2020 annual Staff Award recipients, which will each receive a grant of $50,000:
Faith Acres works to meet the basic needs of people struggling financially by distributing free food, emergency clothing, and household items through eight Sharing Center pantries located in McHenry County and Lake County, IL. These Sharing Centers are a welcoming place offering love, encouragement, and hope to all people, regardless of where they live or what their backgrounds, races, genders, or religions might be. Faith Acres, a partner agency of the Northern Illinois Food Bank and Feeding America, transported over 650,000 pounds of food last year. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, its food distribution service staff and volunteers have been designated as front-line workers and the number of individuals served has more than doubled. Faith Acres Foundation is led by a volunteer Board of Directors and the organization’s founders, Jefferson and Jodie Clow.
LYTE Collective serves youth facing poverty and homelessness through a range of basic needs, education, employment, and recreational support provided through direct/in-person assistance, Lytehouse Apartments (a transitional housing program), and the LYTE Lounge community center (located in Greater Grand Crossing). LYTE combats structural violence through youth leadership, a collective power structure, removal of barriers, and deep, holistic investment. While homelessness has always been a dangerous situation deserving an immediate and robust response, the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the need for urgent economic assistance and mental health support while simultaneously creating even more obstacles for youth seeking help. The LYTE Collective’s founders have over 70 years of experience as former participants and directors of street and community outreach programs, youth drop-in centers, emergency, transitional and permanent housing, host home programs, and LGBT-specific housing and supportive services for youth experiencing homelessness. The organization’s entire staff is composed of women and/or people of color.
Congratulations to this year’s recipients! MacArthur is proud to support each of these organizations, and we are inspired by the work they do in the Chicago area and the impact they have in their communities.