Darnell Shields, ACT Executive Director

Last week, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced it was giving out $26 million in new grants and investments to 12 community organizations in Chicago. At least four of those organizations service West Side residents. 

Austin Coming Together, an Austin-based network of 50 West Side community organizations that works to solve problems spanning a range of areas, including public safety and early childhood development, was one of three organizations receiving the foundation’s four-year, $1 million Vital Communities grant. 

Three other organizations servicing West Side residents received four-year Community Capital grants. Austin-based Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership Development (BUILD) and Auburn-Gresham-based Target Area Development Corporation, organizations that provide support services for young people on the West and South sides, each got four-year, $1 million Community Capital grants. 

The Lawndale Christian Legal Center, which offers social and legal support services for young people in North Lawndale who are involved in the criminal justice system, got a Community Capital grant worth $560,000 over four years. 

In a statement released Aug. 23, MacArthur Foundation officials explained that the grants went to organizations “applying community-driven solutions to foster economic opportunity and equity and to increase peace and safety in Chicago in neighborhoods that have experienced disinvestment, segregation, and isolation.” 

Julia Stasch, MacArthur’s president, said a “more peaceful city requires urgent attention to people and places that are most affected by violence.” 

In order to confront the “root causes of violence,” she added, there needs to be long-term investment in “local leaders, organizations, and networks across the city that are tackling [racial and economic inequity, disinvestment and isolation], with passion, persistence, creativity, and effectiveness.” 

Darnell Shields, ACT’s executive director, explained that the grant would help the organization implement the “strategies and projects” in its Austin Quality of Life Plan. He added that the process of identifying and selecting which of those strategies and projects will receive funding will begin early next year. 

CONTACT: michael@austinweeklynews.com