Living in Retrospect: A Message from the Grave

By | Field News

The casket of Rep. John Lewis crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge by horse-drawn carriage during a memorial service for Lewis on July 26 in Selma, Ala. Photo Creator: John Bazemore, Photo Credit: AP

 

On July 30, 2020, The New York Times published a message from the grave.

Civil Rights giant and longtime Congressman, John Lewis, knew he had lost his battle with cancer. Rather than spend his final days resting and fading peacefully – he unleashed one last act for the greater good and wrote a message to each of us. This missive urged us to keep going without him, to fight at all costs for human dignity and to “study and learn the lessons of history because …the truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time.”

Writing a note knowing you will be gone before it is read.

The Present actively unfolding while simultaneously viewed from the Future’s gaze.

Living in retrospect.

Six months of social distancing, masking ourselves in public and stretching to remain ever-connected digitally, the Field Foundation staff has found new ways of digging in and reaching out. Calls, Zooms, Google meets. One-on-ones, panels, keynotes given barefoot in front of framed ancestors watching quietly from our walls.

We are all living our lives in retrospect these days; watching the ink dry on a history book each day while simultaneously scrolling the headlines on our phone. We know 2020 is a year that will be studied, analyzed. We feel it with each statue pulled down, each city budget shifting investments from policing to the promise of people. With each uptick of lives stolen by Coronavirus. With each school struggling to determine how to feed and educate children, protect teachers, solve for the mounting trauma and do it all on shrinking budgets and with no vaccine in sight.

Injustice viralized.

Priorities reevaluated.

Essentiality redefined.

The world collectively examining the high-functioning and eagerly supported racial caste system that slides to fatal lengths based on the darkness of skin. The world collectively asking how this caste system is codified and designed? What is the role of government to change this, of our publicly held companies, our cultural, academic and philanthropic institutions? What is the role I play, you play?

The pen, it is writing. The ink, ever drying.

And when it stops, what will the history books say about us; and what will we have learned, done, changed?

Now in our 80th year, Field Foundation’s history is also ever-unfolding.

We started this year by looking back on our founding and how we were born from the mind of Marshall Field III in an attempt to equip the organizer, the artist, and the truth-teller with everything they need for the fight. Knowing that it is the fighter who changes the rules of the game, that a dug-in fight is sometimes the only way to gain any ground, and that in the end – until those most marginalized are designers of their own destiny – no one can prevail, no one can be free.

In our forthcoming Biennial Report, we will take the opportunity of our 80th anniversary to reflect on the past, present and future – how it overlaps in elegant loops. In these past few years Field has changed so much. How we fund, who we fund, how we measure our work, how we aim to build trust, how we invest our dollars and how we keep learning by constantly recognizing how far we still have to go.

And yet, given that in the original documents from our Foundation, Marshall Field III called us to work for “racial justice,” in many ways our latest change has simply circled us back to our earliest beginning. We are returning home, retracing our steps, heading steadfastly back to where we started.

So, what will history say about us, about our actions, about this time? Let’s ask the ever-prescient John Lewis, a staff member in the sixties at the Field Foundation of New York.

In Mr. Lewis’ final note he offered us this…

When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.

Walking with each of you in the wind,

Angelique Power, President 

 


Welcome the 2020-2021 Field Fellows!

The Field Foundation Fellowship is a supervised field placement for graduate students, offering work and philanthropic experience for the next generation of grant makers. Our Fellows come to us for a ten-month academic year, while also pursuing advanced degrees from institutions throughout the Chicago area.

Since Field started this work more than 30 years ago, 50 fellows have interned with Field, many of whom are, themselves, now philanthropy and nonprofit leaders.

We are excited to announce our 2020-2021 Field Fellows: Sofía Gabriel del Callejo and Richard Tran.

Sofía Gabriel del Callejo
Sofía is pursuing an MA in Arts Administration & Policy in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). She is joining Field as the Communications Fellow.

Richard Tran
Richard is the Field Programs Fellow. He is working on his masters degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and will be working with each of our program officers to support their work.

 

Housing is a Human Right

By | Field News

Photo Courtesy of PIlsen Alliance and Lift the Ban Coalition

 

In early August, organizers with the Lift the Ban (LBC) Coalition set up an encampment outside of the Richard J. Daley Center. At the time, the state was just days away from the eviction moratorium expiring where it was estimated that there would be close to 762,000 households evicted in Illinois. The direct action, which organizers called “Pritzkerville,” was meant to symbolize the eviction avalanche.

As part of Governor Pritzker’s emergency orders surrounding COVID-19, Pritzker halted evictions for unpaid rent and mortgages in Illinois. Landlords would not be able to evict tenants affected by the pandemic without negotiating with them first. The moratorium was extended over the summer, in large part because of the Coalition’s advocacy and direct actions. Shortly after the encampment the moratorium was extended again and is now set to expire on September 22, 2020. The moratorium does not, however, exempt tenants from still paying rent, which advocates argue should be forgiven since many individuals have lost employment because of the pandemic.

“There was an almost three month stay-at-home order. People could not go into work. People should not be accountable for their rent during that time,” says Roderick Wilson, executive director at Lugenia Burns Hope Center, an organization that develops the civic engagement of residents in Bronzeville and other communities, through education, leadership development and community organizing. The Center is also a member of the Coalition.

The Lift the Ban Coalition (LBC) has been working on housing issues since before the pandemic. It formed in 2016 in response to the displacement of families because of increased rents. The Coalition identified rent control as a policy tool to stabilize the rental housing market where a majority of the city’s Black and Latinx renters are cost-burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their monthly income on rent. LBC has more than 30 supporting organizations and some of the member organizations include: Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, Lugenia Burns Hope Center, Northside Action for Justice, Pilsen Alliance, ONE Northside and Chicago Democratic Socialists of America. Now pivoting to address the eviction crisis, the Coalition’s goals are threefold: lift the ban on rent control, extend the eviction moratorium, and cancel rent and mortgage payments.

A goal of the Field Foundation’s Justice portfolio is to support organizations examining the root causes of systemic issues and pushing for just solutions. One of those systemic issues is housing insecurity, which disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income residents on the south and west sides. The impending renters’ crisis also highlights long-standing issues with housing affordability in Chicago, especially among communities of color. According to research led by the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University, “In Chicago, the declining supply of affordable units led to a growing affordability gap, despite declines in overall demand for affordable units. Since 2012, demand for affordable units has declined by 8.9 percent while the supply of affordable units has declined by 15 percent.”

In addition to a limited supply of affordable housing, renters who have lost income or employment and are unable to cover rent have limited options without government interventions. Activists have identified housing solutions long before the pandemic and they are bringing urgent solutions to the table right now. The Obama Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) Coalition, for example, has organized to ensure the Obama Presidential Center in Woodlawn will not displace families from their homes.

After more than five years of campaigning, the Coalition recently reached a compromise agreement with Mayor Lightfoot on a Woodlawn Housing Ordinance designed to protect residents who live near the Obama Presidential Center from displacement.

Read the full statement on the victory by the CBA Coalition here.

This is just one example of the powerful outcome of persistent organizing for, by and about Black Chicagoans that could help prevent displacement many long-time residents fear.

In the absence of rental and housing protections advocates are putting forward, the question for decision makers, amidst a global pandemic that has impacted the African American and Latinx populations at higher rates, remains: without stable housing, how can individuals and families shelter in place?

“We’re in the middle of a health crisis. We don’t need to go into another housing crisis,” Wilson said.

Without protections for renters, including a permanent moratorium on evictions, rent control, and rent relief, many residents will continue to face housing instability. Housing is a human right that should be accessible for all people.


Angelica Chavez
Justice Program Officer

 

ABOUT JUSTICE

The Field Foundation seeks to level the playing field across Chicago by using Field Foundation dollars to address the root causes of inequity, be it in community environment, health, housing or other issue areas. Rather than funding direct service, we will fund organizations working to address problems at a systemic and policy level. Learn more about the program here.


Field Summer Reading List
A Collection of Selections from the Field Team

The Field Foundation leadership team is often asked for guidance and tapped for input and expertise on issues deeply connected to our program areas of Justice, Art, Media & Storytelling and Leadership Investment. Now, with renewed fervor for examination and dialogue in the upheaval year that 2020 has been, books on race/social justice/politics and political movements, as well as literary, artistic & other creative endeavors are urgently in the forefront. New and old releases by Black authors — fiction and nonfiction — have flooded the New York Times bestseller list.

Right now there is a hunger for more knowledge, more clarity, more understanding. As a result, we compiled and began posting the Field Summer Reading List on our Instagram page, featuring some of our team’s current and all-time favorites — some of their most influential titles. Visit our Instagram page to see their full commentary on all of these selections, which are listed here:

Angelique Power, President
1919 by Eve Ewing
Crossing California by Adam Langer
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Chicago From the Depression to the Millennium: A Black Perspective by Vernon B. Williams III (Angelique’s late father)

Lolly Bowean, Media & Storytelling Program Officer
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
Deacon King Kong by James McBride
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Tempestt Hazel, Art Program Officer
Too Much Midnight by Krista Franklin
Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry by Imani Perry

Hilesh Patel, Leadership Investment Program Officer
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldua
Monstress by Marjorie Liu, Illustrated by Sana Takeda
When I Grow Up I Want to be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen

Angelica Chavez, Justice Program Officer
Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz
Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Y. Davis

#FieldSummerReadingList


Kim Van Horn
Managing Director, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation
2002-2013 Field Program Officer

What do you carry with you today from your time at Field?

“Spending time in communities I did not know, learning histories I was never taught, listening to people share life experiences that were different than my own — has profoundly shaped me personally and professionally. I learned that most of philanthropy’s biggest missteps stem from not understanding the complexity and diversity of issues and communities and failing to include those most affected by issues in generating and executing solutions.”

What Really Happened? The Value of a Diverse Media Diet

By | Field News

                  Still from a Facebook Live stream by Nene Pollion immediately following the shooting of 20-year-old Latrell Allen by Chicago police Sunday, August 9, Courtesy of Block Club Chicago. 

First, there was a resident shot by Chicago police in the Englewood neighborhood on a simmering hot Sunday afternoon where the scene grew so tense, dozens of officers were called to the block to try to calm tempers and control the reaction.

Then on Monday, the next morning, it was reported that dozens of people flooded the city’s Magnificent Mile overnight, burglarizing high-end luxury stores, breaking windows, overwhelming police and security guards and fleeing both in cars and vans, and on foot with clothes, shoes, bags and other merchandise.

In some early media reports, the two events were linked. It would take days before the public would get a clearer picture from media reports about what went on at the separate incidents. The man shot by police, Latrell Allen, 20, wasn’t a teenager and wasn’t killed, as was first reported. Of the 43 people arrested and charged with damaging downtown and near north property, none of them appeared to be from Englewood, reports from the court hearings later revealed.

Even now, there are many lingering questions, said Brandon Pope, a journalist and on-air personality at WCIU The Jam.

“I fell asleep Sunday night on a normal night and I woke up to local news coverage that disappointed me and national news coverage that disappointed me,” said Pope, who was compelled to write an opinion piece criticizing “parachute journalism” that sensationalized the events without nuance.

“There was important context that wasn’t mentioned in early coverage, and was missing,” he said. “Some national media came in and didn’t dive deep into why – they just told you the what: ‘Chicago violence, people injured, here’s some wild video.’ We deserve something better than that.”

A goal of Field’s Media and Storytelling portfolio is to support organizations that elevate voices from Chicago’s communities that are too often overlooked and neglected. We are especially focused on ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American) voices and ALAANA-led newsrooms offering balanced perspectives and views from residents that don’t typically get interviewed or quoted.

In the aftermath of this recent major news event, like so many, I turned to the larger and more mainstream media outlets to get an idea of what was happening, in part because those outlets are easily accessible. I scrolled my Twitter feed, watching video snippets and reading the comments of both reporters and participants on the scene to try to understand it all.

Instinctively, I also checked the smaller, community-focused media organizations to make sure what I was consuming offered multiple perspectives. It’s not the first time that I’ve found I needed to expand my sources if I really wanted to understand what was taking place.

It’s reflexive for most journalists to check multiple outlets – they want to make sure they didn’t miss anything and see how the topic was approached by their colleagues. But more and more, it has become important for all of us to begin absorbing multiple community news sources if we want to understand our city, especially the voices that don’t often make it to the mainstream.

“Every (outlet) has its role. And everybody has a mission that they are trying to cover,” the Chicago Tribune’s Greg Pratt said during a recent discussion on the evolving local media landscape hosted by the City Club of Chicago. “People should be trying to read far more than they do … It’s an unfortunate trend in society where people only want to read something that confirms something they think they already know oftentimes incorrectly.”

Morgan Elise Johnson, the co-founder of The Triibe, echoed a similar sentiment.

“If we could just educate the public on how to have a media diet and how to be critical thinkers when they are consuming media that would go a long way,” she said.

The Triibe offers a counter narrative that centers Black Chicago. And because the outlet isn’t focused on breaking news, they can take the time to produce researched, longer-form reporting, she said.

“I’m all the time thinking about ‘What does my great granddaughter need to know?’ How can we frame these narratives so that they are going to be impactful generations from now? We are often looking for that niche approach to storytelling.”

There have long been conversations on how to curate a sensible media diet. In a 24-hour media cycle and with social media constantly offering appetizers, researchers and experts have warned against getting swept up in a building tide of reporting.

Time management experts have advised us to ask ourselves: Why am I consuming this news? What is the most effective way for me to consume news? Do I want to act on this news? 

I think there are additional questions we have to pose, when examining the media we consume: Who are we listening to? Who is not being heard and whose voice do I need to seek out? 

For Peter Adams, senior vice president of the News Literacy Project, a nonprofit that teaches clients how to be smart consumers of news, having a healthy local news media diet has meant layering the sources and the digital spaces he gets news from, he said.

“One mistake I think a lot of people make is to say flat out don’t get your information from social media,” he said. “That’s a broad brush because it depends on who you are following and who you are following who you trust. Facebook is not a source, but what trained journalists post is going to be more credible than what random people are posting.”

Adams reads the larger newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, he said, and he follows the television news and listens to public radio. But he said he also turns to City Bureau, Block Club Chicago, and The Triibe to make sure he’s absorbing a grassroots, community-focused view of what’s happening.

“One thing I often say is – trustworthy information doesn’t ask you to trust it, it tells you why it should. It tells you where the information is from and anything that doesn’t, you can stay skeptical about,” he said.

Emily Garcia is a sophomore journalism student who articulates it perfectly: “Just like a healthy nutritional diet calls for a variety of different foods, a healthy media diet requires you to consume a mixed bag of media,” she wrote in the Red & Black student newspaper recently.

Besides the media organizations highlighted above, here are a few other local, grassroots outlets to consider adding to your plate, including some that offer multiple languages:

Borderless Magazine

Cicero Independiente

Lumpen Radio

The Hoodoisie

The Chicago Crusader

Injustice Watch

The Invisible Institute

The Chicago Defender

Latinext/Univison

La Raza

The Chicago Reporter

N’Digo

The American Indian Center of Chicago

The Trace

Lolly Bowean
Media & Storytelling Program Officer

How to achieve the just treatment of Blacks — and all people of color

By | Field News

This year has been brutal for Blacks in Chicago. COVID-19 has hit the community hard. Forty-four percent of the lives lost to COVID-19 have been Black. The callous murder of George Floyd by a white police officer sparked weeks of uprisings and protests.

It showed the world that anti-Black racism is not insidious, it exists in broad daylight. We are having new conversations about the perpetual oppression of Black people and see a continuous stream of statements declaring solidarity across sectors. Calls for action are louder and more frequent. This is the dawn of a new era for fighting racism.

The last several weeks have made clear that anti-Black racism needs to be specifically called out. Black leaders and communities must be immersed and centered in redesigning the systems that distinctively oppress them. Eliminating anti-Black racism does not stop the work of ending all forms of racism and discrimination. In fact, we believe centering anti-Black racism in this fight and calling in all people of color will ultimately lead to our collective liberation.

Chicago cannot realize its full potential until it gets past its history of racism. We remain one of the most segregated metropolitan areas in the country. Nearly half of the region’s 1.6 million residents live in majority Black neighborhoods and over 25 percent live at below the federal poverty rate.

As a result, Black communities in the region have endured decades of disinvestment and over-policing, perpetuating the false narrative that Blacks are dangerous and unworthy. The George Floyd uprisings in Chicago also revealed anti-Black racism from residents of other communities of color, particularly the Latino community, a community that also shares a history of oppression rooted in colorism and racism.

As women of color leaders in philanthropy, we are engaged in honest conversations about our role in addressing this pivotal moment. Our non-Black philanthropy sisters have expressed serious concerns about how anti-Blackness has existed “unspoken” in their respective communities—communities that also share histories of oppression rooted in colorism and racism.

This pivotal moment opens a new frontier in eradicating racism. The 21st-century activists who lead peaceful protests in our city and around the world represent the full spectrum of race, class and gender identity. They have boldly shouted in unison that Black. Lives. Matter. Chicago’s civic and philanthropic communities also need to embrace this moment with bold leadership and action.

Our goal is just treatment of Black people and, ultimately, all people of color in the region. Changing this entrenched reality means supporting redesign of narratives and systems that produce persistent anti-Black sentiment and racial disparities. To achieve this, we call on Chicago’s civic and philanthropic communities to act in the following ways:

  • Increase long-term investments in Black organizations that connect individuals and families to resources and build power in our communities to lead substantive change.
  • Expand funding of policy and system reform that takes the long view necessary to improve conditions in Black communities beyond federal and philanthropic emergency and response efforts. We must have the patience and will to change conditions that were built over hundreds of years.
  • Target philanthropic funds to support transformation of Black communities during the response and recovery phases of these pandemics. Our communities are disproportionately impacted and must be proportionately invested in to meet the need and potential. It is not just the responsibility of Black foundation leaders and other leaders of color to address structural racism. This responsibility must also be as resolute for our white foundation, civic and public-sector leaders.
  • Build and increase capital to Black communities. Foundations can increase payout, use endowments to employ additional investment strategies, expand partnerships with community-based financial institutions and support alternative business models such as worker cooperatives, that strengthen community economic development. The recovery and redesign effort will require creativity and a renewed, enduring commitment to Black communities, the path forward to a healthier region.
  • Fund and support Latino-, Indigenous- and Asian-led organizations working to address systemic racism and inequities. Members of these communities experience oppression, understand racism and fight to dismantle it. Supporting their ability to build coalitions within and across communities of color is critical to current and future movements to eradicate anti-Black racism and all forms of racism. Make sure your portfolios are vast and deep in supporting the city and suburbs, across ethnicities.
  • Be transparent and accountable to communities. Foundations, corporations and nonprofits need to examine workplace environments to identify norms rooted in implicit bias and anti-Blackness; and change them to address the harm these practices have caused. This, in part, requires changing membership of board and staff at all levels to reflect oppressed communities. We also need to track, assess and report grantmaking and investments to Black communities and businesses. That includes identifying communities of color on whom we rely for success as our bosses, not our beneficiaries.
  • Advocate alongside affected communities for the public policies they seek. Community organizers, residents and advocates have called for solutions such as diverting funding from police departments to other community priorities or investing significant private- and public-sector dollars to create vibrant neighborhoods on the South and West sides. Foundation and civic leaders can use their influence to support community-led change.
  • Get smarter about spotting racism at work and at play. Learning how to identify and undo racism does not happen in a book or overnight. Get trained on anti-racism with competent trainers, such as those at Enrich Chicago, who can work with your board and staff to understand how racism manifests and get tools for the journey ahead.
  • Rethink metrics. Evaluation of nonprofits has long been based on comparisons to white-led nonprofit models. These models are contingent on access to high-net-worth individuals to serve on boards and provide working capital, allowing organizations to take risks and fail forward with cover.

Black-, Indigenous- and POC-led organizations have not been afforded generational wealth but often have other futurist models based on mutual aid, earned revenue, in-kind support and more. Metrics should be rethought in partnership with these grantees. Use tools such as Chicago Beyond’s Why Am I Always Being Researched? to work with your board and staff on how power and privilege manifests in evidence and outcomes, and make changes.

  • Promote avenues for racial healing, such as the work of Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Greater Chicago and the Chicago Community Trust’s On the Table, which are initiatives created by philanthropy to facilitate racial healing circles and dialogue on a full range of issues impacting the quality of life in our city.

Many of the proposed actions are not new and, in fact, have been repeated for decades. This is a pivotal moment for Chicago, and we can no longer delay or ignore these actions. The leadership of Chicago’s foundations is changing. There are over 20 people of color leading foundations. Most are women; nearly half are Black women. This new leadership is advancing a new narrative for philanthropy. It is one willing to shine a light on racial inequities and injustice and invites others to join us on the front lines.

Women of Color: Sharon Bush, Cecilia Conrad, Felicia Davis, Shelley Davis, Amina Dickerson, Liz Dozier, Patricia Ford, Helene Gayle, Monique Brunson Jones, Jane Kimondo, Dinaz Mansuri, Michelle Morales, Serena Moy, Na’ilah Suad Nasir, Heather Parish, Maria Pesqueira, Angelique Power, Unmi Song, Sejal Shah-Myers and Elizabeth Thompson.

As We Grow, We Grow Collectively

By | Field News

As We Grow, We Grow Collectively

 

“What if, after all, social transformation wasn’t about waiting for a designated [male, straight, cis, nondisabled] hero to come along and rescue us? What if regular people had the tools at our disposal to work collectively toward justice?”

-Eve Ewing, in the preface to a recent interview with organizer and prison abolitionist Mariame Kaba

 

As Leadership Investment Program Officer at Field Foundation, I am quite often asked to speak about, comment on, even more precariously, define leadership. I can tell you that after almost two years overseeing the Leaders for a New Chicago Award, I can talk about leadership, but I cannot define it. As Field Foundation President Angelique Power coyly tells me, I have been known to keep repeating, “defining leadership is like catching lightning in a bottle.”

This June we were thrilled to announce the second cohort of the Leaders for a New Chicago award. This unique award, created and presented in deep partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, seeks to build a more inclusive Chicago by tapping into power inside of communities with a no-strings-attached $50,000 award ($25,000 for the individual and, if eligible, $25,000 for their affiliated not-for-profit corporation). For this year’s selection committee, we wanted last year’s awardees to lead the process and so this committee was composed of eight of the Leaders from the 2019 cohort. They navigated the process of identifying the 2020 awardees and also voiced and grappled with the tensions between individual and collective leadership. In the public decision making rubric we use to guide these decisions we clearly state: Leadership is not about hierarchical positions; it’s about the impact a voice can have on Chicago.

The selection committee looked for nominations that uplifted models of shared decision making, co-executive directors who guide growth together, non-hierarchical models pushing against traditional non-profit structures, how people are leading organizations to do internally what they are committed to externally to, name a few. If there isn’t a radical community inside an organization will there be radical change happening in the work outside? If the practice doesn’t change then the work, the messaging, all of it — it doesn’t work. These models aren’t cosmetic. They are rooted in practice, in how the work is done, and how relationships are core to movement building. And they come from the work of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, feminist, queer and BIPOC practices and communities.

Cathy Cohen, the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science and chair of political science at the University of Chicago and Field Foundation Board Member, said in an interview with Sarah J. Jackson in 2015: “There’s some important feminist work that tells us that there are different forms of leadership that we should be paying attention to. Whether it is Belinda Robnett’s work on the civil rights movement and bridge leaders or the exceptional work that Barbara Ransby has done thinking about Ella Baker and more democratic forms of radical leadership, I think many of the young leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement recognize that the male charismatic leader, or the singular charismatic leader, is not the form of leadership that they adhere to or they going to put forth.”

In announcing these awards, our hope is that the story each cohort tells isn’t just about celebrating leadership, it is about redefining leadership in the city of Chicago. Like our 2019 group, these 11 individuals represent a broad array of Chicago residents and include a diversity of religion, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age and expertise, and those from different geographies and income levels. Some are Executive Directors, some are co-founders, some are organizers and some, importantly, are part of collective or shared leadership models.

When we notified this year’s leaders of their recognition, we heard a common theme from so many of them: “I am one of many…I am but one of a larger group…In recognizing me you are recognizing all of us…There are so many people with me.” I heard much of the same during the weeks I spent talking to community members, colleagues and friends of the then nominees in preparation for the notification. Here are some quotes I heard that tell the story of what leadership in motion looks like:

 

She lets Black women in this field know we are ALL the leaders. 

She is the community and the community is her. 

She weaves us all together and steps back to be part of the quilt. 

She always works to decenter herself. 

He always says WE.

She doesn’t do any of this to be recognized. 

We all become leaders because of her and our strengths are pulled out of us. 

She only stands in front once we all agree.  

We trust them and in case you haven’t noticed trust in our world is hard won. 

He leads collectively.

She’ll be the first to say  “when you recognize me you recognize all of us ” because this work is done as a group. It’s messy and difficult but it’s mission aligned when we do it together.

With this award we are recognizing individuals who understand how vital it is to share power, distribute or give up resources, and see themselves in unique positions to effect change in numerous ways.

On a personal note, I feel so fortunate to have gotten to know the 2019 Leaders and to now get to know the 2020 cohort. They can be and often are the people who stand firm in the path of uncertainty especially when the system fails, who whisper while everyone else is screaming, and scream when they are asked to be quiet, who use queer as a verb and civic as a question, who see themselves as one of many but who will put themselves in the front of storms to protect those behind them, who refuse to turn away from conflict, who hold up mirrors to ourselves and our institutions, who use questioning as sharp tools, who grow one step at a time and who know when to stand up from the table and walk away and when to ask for help. Most if not all of this doesn’t happen alone. They don’t operate under the mythic umbrella of individual leadership.

Over the next few weeks I will be having conversations with many of our Leaders, with our grantees and partners about collective models, sharing power, reallocating resources, and distributed leadership. I will be sharing these ongoing dialogues through our website and social media.

I won’t attempt to define leadership but one thing I have learned to be true is that good effective leadership is never about one person. I find myself going back to what Mariame Kaba said in the interview with Eve Ewing that “everything worthwhile is done with other people” and watching, even for a brief second, lightning flickering in a bottle.

Hilesh Patel
Leadership Investment Program Officer

 


 

 

August is Black Philanthropy Month, an annual observance and campaign to inform, inspire & invest in Black philanthropic leadership. Originally launched in 2011 and then scaled up to a full celebration in 2013, Black Philanthropy Month now reaches about 17 million with the goal of awareness of and investment in Black philanthropic leadership and giving.

Why does Black philanthropy matter? The upheaval of 2020 has, so far, led to an increased commitment to diversity and funding to Black organizations within philanthropic spaces, but representation still lags. A 2012 report by the Association of Black Foundation Executives found that only three percent of chief executives and only seven percent of trustees at philanthropic organizations were Black.

Despite those low numbers, the landscape in Chicago is promising. At least a handful of that three percent of chief executives nationwide lead Chicago-based organizations, including Chicago Community Trust, Grand Victoria Fund, Crossroads Fund and our own Field Foundation, where Angelique Power has been at the helm since 2016 and is the third Black president. We are proud to support Black Philanthropy Month, not just in August but also the year-round effort to raise awareness and facilitate opportunities for Black leadership and giving.

 


 

Voices from the Field

Kandace Thomas

Kandace Thomas, MPP, PhD. Executive Director, First Eight Memphis
2003 Field Fellow

“At the Field Foundation, I learned how a philanthropic organization can strategically use its dollars to work to reverse inequitable practices that have shaped our communities for generations. At Field is where I learned how to engage in a racial equity impact analysis, and how to have a relationship with a supervisor who gave me space to grow and who held me accountable. I have carried these values and practices I learned at Field in my work since.”

Photo: Jenni Kotting

Mercy Mercy Me

By | Field News

Mercy, Mercy Me: Adapting, Changing, Caring for Staff During COVID-19

On March 6, 2020, the Field staff gathered for the first time in the new office space we co-conceptualized at the FBRK Impact House for breakfast. We toured the building, met up with colleagues and imagined working collaboratively in a cooperative space designed to build relationships and nurture ideas.

Today, four months after COVID-19 gripped the world and forced us to stay home, most of us have yet to return.

I feel like we are living in a Marvin Gaye lyric: “Whoa ah mercy, mercy me—ah, things ain’t what they used to be…” At Field this is true. Business as usual has not been business as usual for some time. These last four years our grantmaking has evolved to center racial equity, and over the past few months our approach has simultaneously been sharpened and expanded. It points us to the places that we need to go and leaves us free to explore new ideas and important, timely issues.

And while things aren’t what they used to be, they do resemble 1971 when Marvin Gaye wrote “Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)” and released the album, What’s Going On. The feeling is the same—and unfortunately so are the issues. Be it the 1965 riots in Watts, police brutality in Berkeley, the Vietnam War, or the human impact on the environment—we see similarities to the Coronavirus pandemic and racism today. Racial equity is a constant journey—things shouldn’t be what they used to be, and at Field we continue to rethink, reshape, and redesign our work while staying true to our values.

As we all started work from home on March 16th, it was immediately clear that things were different—from our makeshift home offices, we realized quickly that we had to find new ways of working together—ones that were not defined by physical proximity but that still allowed for deep connectivity.

In those first few days, the Field team dug in—worked harder, learned more, shared opportunities and connected even more. Over the first few days, after the video conference accounts were set, the frenetic sprint pace eased into a steady distance run. We asked ourselves, if we want to lead with equity, what does an equitable workplace look like in this unfamiliar new world? How do we support staff, our grantees, and our partners?

From the onset, the Field team acknowledged that we did not have all the answers, but that we would find solutions together, and that while we may be isolated, we were not alone. Taking care of ourselves became as important as making sure that the work was accomplished.

To center care of staff and equity in our work lives, here are a few things that we have done:

 

  • Making Work from Home—Work. To start, we created a guide to working remotely that positioned the team to communicate through technology and to encourage learning together so that we could make distance feel minimal. We encouraged everyone to reflect on our internal core values of equity, respect, transparency, trust, and kindness which we co-created prior to the pandemic. We emphasized communication—both internally and externally—and created a safe, productive environment that promoted creativity and connection. As spring emerged and work from home continued, we surveyed the team with a short list of questions that addressed work at home needs. We aggregated the responses, set budgets and incorporated expenses—we used our findings to design new policies that addressed working from home, including supplies, equipment, and software requirements customized to each staff members’ responsibilities, and made moderate resources available for use over the fiscal year.
  • Communication, Communication, Communication. Committing to open and transparent communication has been a deliberate activity. We had to find innovative ways of working together and communicating even though we would not be near each other. We established a weekly virtual “huddle” where the team connects and shares with one another—huddles usually include coffee, the voices of children in the background and special pet appearances. We discuss our work, we check in on one another and we share what we are learning—and over time, in these unusual circumstances, we have become closer as a team. We have also been intentional about connecting with our FBRK Impact House colleagues and have created platforms to share ideas and ask questions in weekly or bi-weekly calls that help us collectively think through our new space and our equitable philanthropic responses to the pandemic. We have also been using our digital media more than ever before and have expanded our role as a communications outlet with the help of our talented communications consultant, Sabrina Miller.And since our goal has always been to showcase the amazing work of Chicago organizations working on Chicago’s pressing issues, we are now doing this virtually by connecting and lifting the voices of our grantees and sharing ideas of the moment in new ways and on new platforms.
  • Transparent Budget Process. As information about the pandemic emerged and markets around the world plummeted, Field was in the process of creating our Fiscal Year 2021 budget. Establishing a budget based on a forecasted future and in the face of enormous volatility was challenging, but at the core of the FY2021 budget is a standing commitment to our grantmaking model and to Chicago communities. Getting there required many transparent conversations about the budget on every level. As a staff, we walked through an array of scenarios and discussed items line by line, asking questions and thinking critically about how we could adjust our operations and where we could save. We created room for the entire team to weigh in and built in space to ask questions and make suggestions. As a result, we created a budget with a 6.45 percent payout level that we are proud of and that allows us to continue supporting organizations doing incredibly important work throughout Chicago.
  • Wellness Fridays. While working from home, we saw how the traditional boundaries of the workday blur and we responded by mandating breaks for the team to disconnect and recharge through the creation of “Wellness Fridays” where every other week we completely disconnect from calls and email and take intentional time off to refresh.
  • Cyber Security Protection. Working from home can include increased cybersecurity risks. And to address the increased cyber threats that are emerging, we have been assessing our security, building increased staff awareness, and beefing up our cyber security profile overall.
  • Understanding What Return to Work Means. Not only has the world that the pandemic created changed our lives, it has also forever impacted what it means to be at work. While we have yet to return to our office, we understand that the stakes of going back to a physical work space are much greater now, and we wanted to make sure we were not forcing people to return to work during this uncertain time. Conversely, we understood some might feel isolated and wanted to be in a safe physical space outside of their home. Choice and safety measures are both critical, from understanding considerations ranging from building sanitation and elevator safety to accommodating our team’s apprehensions, and social distancing needs. We wanted to know how issues outside of work like commuting, childcare, and concerns of the immunocompromised impacted decisions to return. We have leaned on our partners at FBRK Impact House to share information about sanitation protocols and the recommended safe uses of space. We used the survey information regarding returning to work to develop flexible policies that address a voluntary and gradual return that supports staff with commuting and parking expenses.

These aren’t the only ways to bring equity into our new way of working but it’s a start. We realize that being equitable is about both process and posture. It demands a different attitude, one that leans in, tilts its head and listens. At Field, we are listening—to communities, our grantees and to our colleagues. And while things may not be what they used to be—we are working to be better and more supportive than ever before.


Mark Murray
Vice President, Programs and Administration


Congratulations Spring 2020 Grantees

In May, the Field Foundation announced its Spring 2020 grantees. These 35 organizations have persevered and adapted their programming to accommodate the extreme changes caused by this year’s COVID-19 pandemic.They each represent our grantmaking model of Community Empowerment through Justice, Art, Media & Storytelling and Leadership Investment. We are proud of our Spring 2020 grantees and are inspired by their bold vision and work.

Justice

Our Justice portfolio focuses on systemic intervention work led by ALAANA (African Latinx Asian Arab and Native American) organizers working in communities across Chicago. Note the work this round we are honored to support in affordable housing, immigration, and bond reform.

 

 

                                                     

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago                   Brighton Park Neighborhood Council 

 

                                                    

Centro de Trabajadores Unido                                                Chicago American Indian Community Collaborative

 

                                                   

Chicago Community Bond Fund                                              Chicago Housing Initiative

 

                                             

Chicago Torture Justice Center                                               Latin United Community Housing Association

 

                                               

Logan Square Neighborhood Association                         Northwest Side Housing Center

Surge Institute

 

Art

The Art portfolio focuses on space-making and capacity-building, with continued emphasis on the intersections within Art and Justice.
                                             
Alt Space Chicago                                                                       Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians
                                          
Blue Tin Production Cooperative                                       Changing Worlds
                                     
Chicago Workers’ Collaborative                                           Circles and Ciphers
                                            
Definition Theatre                                                                     Freedom House Studios Chicago
                                            
Lawndale Pop-Up Spot                                                            Love, Unity & Values (LUV) Institute
                                            
National Museum of Gospel Music                                    Red Clay Dance Company
                                         
Union Street Gallery                                                                Urban Theater Company

Media & Storytelling

The Media & Storytelling portfolio supports ALAANA leadership and outlets that are taking multifaceted approaches to disrupting inequities within the media map.
                                       
American Indian Association of Illinois                          American Indian Center of Chicago 
                                       
                                         
Chicago Public Media                                                               Free Spirit Media
                                       
Institute for Nonprofit News                                          Juneteenth Productions
                                       
Public Narrative                                                                    The Hoodoisie

Voices from the Field

Hrishikesh “Rishi” Shetty



Hrishikesh “Rishi” Shetty, Trainer, Guidance Resource Unit-ComPsych, 2014-2015 Field Fellow 

“My time at the Field Foundation opened my eyes to the tremendous philanthropic work that happens in Chicago. The amount of organizations, individuals, and corporations working together to improve and grow Chicago amazed me. My experience at the Field showed me how philanthropic support extends beyond funding to include leadership, program expertise, technical assistance, a network, and anything in between. The skills I developed as a Field Fellow continue to help me in my work today.”

Any Budget is a Moral Statement of Priorities

By | Field News

Photo courtesy of Richard Wallace, Equity and Transformation (EAT)

 

When I stepped into this role nearly two years ago, I felt the weight of the Justice portfolio on my shoulders. I don’t take the word justice lightly. And the organizers in my portfolio rightfully reminded me of this. One thing I have carried with me before this work and in this work is that we cannot talk about justice without talking about injustice.

I remember one of my first site visits with grantee-partner Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberty, Tanya Watkins, SOUL’s executive director, asked me to close my eyes and imagine what safety looks and feels like. I shared my first thoughts of family, school, shelter, health. Tanya told me to pay close attention to the things I mentioned and the things I did not.  Police being one of those unmentioned. This is a common exercise many organizing groups lead to think about what makes communities feel safe and what systems do not.

The police brutality we have witnessed against African Americans in the past months and years are not isolated incidents. Amidst a global pandemic, people are taking to the streets to demand justice, accountability and sweeping change. Activists have mobilized in Chicago demanding that the City defund the Chicago Police Department, which represents 40 percent of the City’s operating budget. According to the national and local Movement for Black Lives, “defunding the police is a demand to cut funding and resources from police departments and other law enforcement and invest in things that make our communities safer.”

Calls to defund the police ask us to pay attention to funding priorities where $1.8 billion is budgeted for the police department compared to the divestment from social services such as the mental health clinic closures in 2012 on the South Side and Chicago Public School closures on the South and West Sides. “With a police budget of $1.8 billion, how could we use dollars that could actually produce what would be safe for Chicago?” asked Richard Wallace, executive director with Equity and Transformation, an organization founded for and by post incarcerated and marginalized Black people in Chicago that  organizes with individuals that operate outside of the formal economy.

These demands, along with youth organizing to end the contract between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Police Department, mobilizing around calls for decarceration at Cook County Jail, and eliminating the Gang Database, are wrapped up in a larger justice campaign that organizations locally have been building for many, many years. As the City begins its budget process this summer, we are anticipating a $700M budget shortfall for 2020.

Any budget is a moral statement of priorities. It tells us what areas, issues, things, or people are most important, and which are least important.

The complementary side of the campaign is that once defunded, the City could shift those resources into communities. “It’s not just defund. It’s defund and WHAT” Richard Wallace says. Research published by Funders for Justice, a program of Neighborhood Funders Group, states that a defund/invest campaign is a key intervention in addressing not just the symptoms that need to be faced but the root causes of them.

The defund movement demands that Black, Indigenous and communities of color receive the same budget priorities that White and higher-income communities already have. One goal of the Field Foundation’s Justice portfolio is to support organizations examining the root causes of systemic issues and organizing towards the reimagining of a Chicago where Black, Indigenous, and communities of color can thrive. In many ways, this transformation is already happening. We are seeing organizations on the frontlines of protests, organizing direct actions while also being a resource amidst the pandemic for the communities they serve through restorative and healing models and community-based mutual aid networks.

Organizers are asking funders questions about where investments in police reform have gotten us. At Field we often reflect on how racial equity is both a process and an outcome. Racial equity is about shifting power and resources. It involves dismantling and rebuilding systems. Shifting power and resources means investing in and centering community organizers, movement building, and youth organizers to shape alternatives to existing policies that are meant to govern, protect, and guide us toward a city where Black Chicagoans and communities of color are no longer victims  of institutional violence and systemic racism.

It is equally important to keep listening after the defund conversation. Communities have been telling us what they need. And if we are serious about racial equity as a process, we must center those with lived experience and are directly impacted by these systems to guide us toward reinvestment as a “re-healing” and restoration led by communities. Both locally and nationally, organizers are positioning defunding the police as a strategy that goes beyond dollars and cents — it is not just about decreasing police budgets, it is about reducing the power, scope, and size of policing and punishment. To defund the police means re-funding communities and moving dollars over so that we are investing in the growth of communities.

In solidarity and justice,
Angélica

Angélica Chavez
Program Officer, Justice

Announcing Our 2020 Cohort: Leaders for a New Chicago

By | Field News

CONTACT INFORMATION:
LAURIE R. GLENN
773.704.7246
lrglenn@thinkincstrategy.com

NEWS RELEASE
FIELD & MACARTHUR FOUNDATIONS ANNOUNCE
2020 LEADERS FOR A NEW CHICAGO
11 Local Leaders awarded for groundbreaking work

CHICAGO – The Field Foundation, in partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, today announced the 2020 Leaders for a New Chicago cohort. The leadership awards are part of Field’s ongoing investment in racial justice visionaries and organizations addressing systemic issues in Chicago’s divested communities. The MacArthur Foundation committed $2.1 million to support the awards to recognize and support diverse leaders from communities affected by Chicago’s history of structural racism, discrimination, and disinvestment.

The 11 leaders in three categories — Media & Storytelling, Justice, and Art — reach across boundaries to find new ways, new stories, and new ideas that propel Chicago toward its full potential, said Angelique Power, president of the Field Foundation of Chicago.

“This award recognizes power. These visionaries are changing the game across the city and we need them now more than ever,” Power said. “Each leader will receive a $25,000 cash award in recognition of past accomplishments, and their affiliated organizations will each receive an additional $25,000 general operating grant.”

“We are committed to reflecting, serving, and amplifying the voices of leaders from across Chicago, with an emphasis on communities that are historically underrepresented in civic discourse,” said MacArthur President John Palfrey. “When the Leaders for a New Chicago are included in city- or sector-wide discussions, their community-based expertise and experience can help inform the decisions that shape our city.”

2020 LEADERS FOR A NEW CHICAGO:

ART

Dorothy Burge, Co-founder and Activist, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials
One of the strongest voices in Chicago for police accountability and reparations for survivors of police torture, Burge amplifies the voices of survivors and of activists in the movement. Burge and others designed a curriculum for Chicago Public Schools to expose students to the history of and battle against police violence and successfully advocated for the grandchildren of torture survivors to be recipients of free tuition at Chicago community colleges.

Hoda Katebi, Founder & Organizer, Blue Tin Production Co-op
Katebi created a fashion house that brings together those who have historically been most marginalized in this industry — working-class women of color — to collectively profit from the work they create. As an activist and community organizer and part of campaigns to end surveillance programs and police militarization, Katebi brings an arts-based approach to systems change.

Ryan Keesling, Executive Director, Free Write Arts & Literacy
Keesling has worked in locked facilities such as the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and in the community with criminalized youth and young adults for two decades. Keesling has developed highly effective, healing-centered methodologies for engaging incarcerated youth in arts and literacy programming. He cultivates the leadership of criminalized youth and amplifies their stories through publishing, exhibition and multidisciplinary art practices.

Faheem Majeed, Co-Director, The Floating Museum
Majeed flips the idea of museums on its head, moving a museum outdoors, on the Chicago River, floating through the city. Through a commitment to collective leadership, Majeed has developed a long history within the South Side community, the citywide arts community and of working in community-based art organizations.

Elijah McKinnon, Co-founder and Director of Development, Reunion Chicago
McKinnon is an award-winning strategist, creative director, entrepreneur, artist and advocate for queer history, queer artmaking, and queer practices in Chicago. McKinnon co-creates an art gallery, event space, and project incubator located in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood for marginalized communities and narratives.

Jackie Taylor, Founder & CEO, Black Ensemble Theater
Taylor founded, directed, and for 45 years has led the only African American theater in the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse Uptown community on Chicago’s North Side. Taylor makes racial equity primary in her mission and is committed to Chicago as a cultural hub for theater and for the arts in general.

JUSTICE

Juliet de Jesus Alejandre, Executive Director, Logan Square Neighborhood Assoc.
Alejandre developed a strong racial justice framework that centers Latinx youth from the community in actions, policy conversations, and strategy meetings. Alejandre has a commitment to long-term problem solving in Logan Square through community-driven solutions and coalition building at the local, city, state and national levels.

Asiaha Butler, Executive Director, Resident Association of Greater Englewood
Butler is a key community strategist and one of the most recognized and powerful voices in the Englewood community. She uses education, youth development, economic development, and civic empowerment to uplift, inspire, and change perceptions of the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago.

Sharlyn Grace, Executive Director, Chicago Community Bond Fund
Sharlyn Grace’s work provides direct resources and organizing efforts to end people being jailed simply because they are poor. The use of money bonds has decreased by over 50 percent thanks to pressure from litigation and community organizing led by CCBF and her leadership. Through Grace’s coalition building efforts, eliminating money bond is now a statewide issue. She is a lifelong organizer who uses her legal skills, credentials, and access in support of grassroots movements for social change.

MEDIA & STORYTELLING

Stephanie Manriquez, Executive Producer & Educator, National Museum of Mexican Art
A trusted voice in the Chicago radio community, Manriquez trains and mentors her community members in their pursuit of access to the equipment, networks, and ecosystems that allow their voices to be shared. Manriquez is the force behind a fast-growing ecology of young Latinx radio talent in Chicago.

Tiffany Walden, Co-founder & Editor-in-Chief, The TRiiBE
As co-founder and editor-in-chief of The TRiiBE, Tiffany Walden has impressively built a news organization that has become a vital piece of Chicago’s media landscape and a voice for black Chicago. As a reporter, editor, media visionary, and fierce advocate for systemic change, Walden shifts the sensational coverage black communities receive and is determined to bring voices out of neighborhoods.

“These leaders are changing the city and will be key in leading it to new places post-COVID, Power said. “Watch them. Listen to them. They are incredible visionaries we are honored to support. They work in various ways, but they all share a love of Chicago.”

About the Field Foundation
Founded in 1940 by Marshall Field III, the Field Foundation is a private, independent foundation that has been dedicated to the promise of Chicago for more than 80 years. The Field Foundation aims its grantmaking toward the goal of Community Empowerment through Justice, Art, Media & Storytelling and Leadership Investment. With racial equity at the center of its giving, it directs dollars to critical organizations working to address systemic issues in Chicago and aims to directly benefit some of our city’s most divested communities. Learn more at www.fieldfoundation.org.

About the MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy, as well as the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. MacArthur supports Chicago nonprofits, leaders and communities by strengthening organizations, contributing to civic partnerships, investing in vital communities, advancing influential and diverse leaders and cultivating creative expression and art. Learn more at www.macfound.org/chicago
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Ask Questions & Be Crititcal

By | Field News

Courtesy of Tatiana Cortes

 

Flashback to October 2019: the days were full of sunshine reflecting my excitement for my first week at the Field Foundation. Upon arrival, I received a binder full of resources on the history of the Field Foundation and its grant-making process, among other resources. In the binder, I also found a letter from a past fellow. They shared that this would be a transformative year at the Field Foundation and urged me to take stock of my time. It was my intention then, as it is now, to add to the archives of past fellows and write a letter. So as an ode, farewell, and thanks, I write this letter to future fellows, sharing my lessons.

Lesson #1: Know your history.  I came into the Field Foundation at a transitional time. We were three years into a new model that centers racial equity and invests in Community Empowerment through all our program areas.  We were also preparing for our big move into the FBRK Impact House, our soon-to-be interactive campus, with other organizations striving for equity in Chicago. We at the Field Foundation come from a long lineage and tradition of striving for equity in Chicago, with 80 years of grant-giving and impact. I urge you to learn both the history of the Field Foundation and the history of this city.

Lesson #2: Don’t forget to look at email addresses!  In my second week I was fooled into online fraud by someone pretending to be a staff member. The details of the story are not so important. The important part is how staff showed up and supported me; the care with which folks responded was so incredibly telling of the compassionate, transparent, and equitable culture of the Field Foundation. I knew early on that I was not only going to be supported professionally, but also personally.

Lesson #3: Ask questions & be critical. You will be encouraged to ask questions. Ask them! About yourself, about the art and science of philanthropy, and about the sometimes-weird dance of philanthropy.  Ask how we as a foundation are living out our values and what we need to change in our processes to better serve our grantees. As you ask yourself these questions, you will also find others who are eager, excited, and ready to ask the hard questions.

Lesson #4: Jump in. Get your feet wet! In addition to doing work around grant processes, program officers and staff members are heavily involved in various ways all over this city. Responding to invitations, starting their own projects, supporting important initiatives and, most importantly, people. I  had the opportunity to take part in the Investment Committee meetings to learn what it looks like to use our endowment to invest for equity in our community.

Lesson #5: Know your superpowers!  In the fall of your fellowship you will be trained on all the ins and outs of site visit preparations and you will have the opportunity to shadow and co-conduct site visits alongside program officers. Know your own superpowers and the superpowers of your team members. I learned that my superpowers are much like Wonder Woman: compassionate, outgoing, and ready for battle. As for the team, meet The Mighty Field Foundation:

Tempestt – Buzz Lightyear: To Infinity and Beyond

Angelica – Spiderwoman: My Spidey Senses are Tingling (seeing the web/interconnection of systems)

Lolly – Black Panther: The Untold Story

Hilesh – The Flash: Speedy and Engaged

Tommie – Clark Kent/Superman: Ordinarily Super

Angelique – Captain Marvel: Action and Hope

Mark – Tony Stark/Iron Man: Inspiringly Committed

Michelle – Mrs. Incredible: Stretching the Limits

They are my heroes. Ask them why!

Lesson #6: Be prepared & stay informed. Be prepared to sit in many conversations and in many rooms: ones you never thought you’d be in. You will see things on a macro view of this city, and you will see how philanthropy plays a role in shaping and supporting lowercase policy. Stay plugged in to remain prepared, engaged, and informed.

Lesson #7: Be moved.  Without a doubt, you will be moved. You will be moved by the program officers and staff, by our grantees who are experts of their communities, by the various stakeholders in this city and their commitment to meeting the needs of Chicago; all of whom are showing up when and where it matters most. You will be moved by New Leaders of Chicago recipients who are various ages, races, and program areas, all committed to working hard in Chicago without seeking recognition. You will be moved to uncover all the innovative and creative ways in which people are responding to the needs of their communities. And you will grow from it.

Lesson #8: It’s about our community. You will hear time and again that what matters most is the groundwork. Our role is to keep our ears on the ground, build relationships, show up, and make sure that the messages of those in the field are passed on and shared to various channels. It is about using the power and influence of philanthropy to elevate the voices on the ground and urging other entities to make space for those who are historically kept out of conversations that most impact them

Lesson #9: Pay it forward.  That fellow from years ago, whose letter I read when I first started, was right: this really has been a transformative experience.  I’ve learned some great lessons and gained so many new skills. Now it is my honor and responsibility to pay it forward and build on this communal learning, to continue the lineage of striving for equity.