Better Know a Network: Recognizing The Chicago Community Bond Fund and its allies

The murder of George Floyd brought attention to the long list of black men and women killed in recent years by the police, including Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castle, and Breonna Taylor. We are outraged by the continued police violence and oppression of black people and other people of color. At NNSI, we condemn this violence and stand with the Black Lives Matter movement to end to systemic racism and violence.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been focusing on the networks that make a difference – shining light on those who are reshaping the world for the better. Rather than focusing on another network we’ve studied in the past several years, today we want to call attention to the way that Chicago’s activist community has been publicly supporting one another. 

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent protest, the Chicago Community Bond Fund received over $3.5 million in donations from over 75,000 people. So many people tried to donate that their website crashed. Instead of continuing to accumulate funds, they turned to twitter to direct donors to their network of allies

Why is this so remarkable? Often competition for fundraising dollars makes collaboration among nonprofits more difficult. We have seen networks dissolve over fundraising competition. In the current pandemic, nonprofits have seen a sharp decrease in donations. Many nonprofits might have turned this windfall into their nest egg for what certainly will be a tough season in fundraising. Instead, the Chicago Community Bond used its position to make donors aware of many community groups doing the grassroots work needed in Chicago. Many of these groups run on a small budget that they stretch to do social justice work. Here are just a few of those organizations:

  • Assata’s Daughters is a “Black women-led, young person-direct organization” that focuses on political education, organizing, and provides services including food, payment, access to mental health services, and short-term assistance. 
  • Equity and Transformation (E.A.T.) Chicago is a black-led organization that organizes people that operate outside of the formal economy. From childcare providers to people selling loose cigarettes on the streets – these individuals live on the margins. E.A.T. does education, community organizing, policy development, and advocacy.
  • Circles & Ciphers is a restorative justice organization that uses arts and hip-hop to heal communities and bring about the “abolition of the prison-industrial complex.” Started in a DCFS home in Rogers Park, the group has expanded to operating circles across Chicago, advocating for peace in institutions across Chicago.
  • Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) is a resistance movement focusing on deportations and criminalization of people of color and undocumented people. Current campaigns include the elimination fo the gang database used by the Chicago Police Department and expanding Chicago’s efforts to be a sanctuary city.
  • Lifted Voices is a direct-action network focusing on transformative justice, Indigenous resistance, and prison abolition. It is an Indigenous-led collective that routine trains groups and individuals in artful protest.

Another noteworthy feature of this movement is that they recognize that Chicago’s injustices are intersectional. They recognize that black-led, Latinx-led, and Indigenous-led organizations face common injustices. The groups collaborate to amplify their collective voice. We are just getting to know the remarkable work of these organizations. So, we hope you’ll join us in Better Knowing This Network.