Northwestern has announced that nine community projects will be funded this year through the Racial Equity and Community Partnership grants program.
Launched in 2021, the program is designed to help nurture mutually beneficial partnerships between community-based organizations and Northwestern University representatives that address the root causes of racial inequities and work toward structural change.
Northwestern’s Office of Neighborhood and Community Relations spearheaded the inaugural Racial Equity and Community Partnership grants program, providing $500,000 in funding to support ideas that work toward making our communities more equitable. An anonymous Northwestern alumni donor committed $500,000 of additional support, distributed in $100,000 increments each year.
“Our first year of grant-funded projects is already making a positive impact in communities across Evanston and Chicago,” said Dave Davis, executive director of the Office of Community and Neighborhood Relations. “This program demonstrates how partnerships between Northwestern and community-based organizations benefit both and create deeper ways to address racial equity.”
A model for how universities work with their home communities
The initial round of funds in 2021 supported a wide range of programs including an effort led by Northwestern Medicine investigators to mitigate food deserts in Chicago, as well as a project to amplify the voices of Black Evanston residents in devising community-directed redress of ongoing racialized educational harm and inequities.
“We’re thrilled to continue building this important initiative, which we believe could be a model for how major research universities work together with their local communities to advance racial equity and drive systemic change,” Davis said.
One of this year’s grant recipients, Books & Breakfast is a before-school program that offers a nutritious breakfast, homework assistance and emotional care to Evanston students in need.
“The ability we’ll have to recruit a team of racially diverse tutors through this partnership is priceless,” said Tasha Triplett, director of programs and volunteers at Books & Breakfast. “Black and Latinx children need the connection and storytelling of the Black and Latinx experience. And because of this grant, more tutors of color will care for these children each morning in Evanston elementary schools, making connections that can spark transformative change.”
This year, Northwestern provided nine partnership grants that will have a structural impact on racial equity in Evanston and Chicago, with a focus on three themes: health equity, children and learning, and social and economic empowerment.
Partnership grants of $25,000 to $75,000 support projects through an existing partnership between a community-based organization and Northwestern faculty, students or departments.
“We are grateful for this grant because it gives us the time and resources to plan a truly equitable partnership with the Black Metropolis Research Consortium,” said director Rob Donahue, director of Northwestern’s Center for Civic Engagement. “Two of our graduate students will spend the next academic year working on projects that preserve Black history through partnerships with the South Side Community Art Center, Newberry Library and Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project, which will open new channels of access and inquiry.”
Nine partnership grants awarded in 2022
Books & Breakfast
Creating systems change in Evanston District 65 by empowering racial justice advocates at the school and district levels, in partnership with Northwestern’s Division of Student Affairs.
Bright Star Community Outreach
Understanding and improving disparities in palliative care for African American patients living with serious illness, in partnership with palliative medicine at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.
An evaluation partnership to inspire a healthier Southwest Chicago, working with the Osher Center for Integrative Health at Feinberg.
Equity and Empowerment for Evanston Families
Helping young Black males in Evanston find their passion and purpose through participation in an intensive summer camp and year-round programming, in partnership with Northwestern Athletics.
Lighthouse Foundation and Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago
Further developing the Black Queer Equity Index (BQEI), a tool to assess barriers to equity experienced by Black Queer Chicagoans and highlight organizational pathways to positive change, in partnership with the EDIT in the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing at Feinberg.
Creating bilingual identity-based curricula with Latinx youth, educators, performers and scholars, based on diasporic performance traditions and in partnership with Latina and Latino Studies at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.
Second Baptist Church
Developing and implementing intergenerational workshops and race solidarity circles, in partnership with the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.
Women Initiating New Directions
Developing the Bridge program to help formerly incarcerated women become facilitators for workshops that empower other at-risk women in the community, in partnership with the Segal Design Institute of Northwestern Engineering and The Writing Place.
YWCA Evanston/North Shore
Removing racial barriers that prevent the equitable representation of Black and brown women in the technology field and empowering minority entrepreneurs, in partnership with computer science at Northwestern Engineering.