Field News

A Paradigm Shift in the Newsroom

By Field News

Courtesy of Dawn Rhodes


When Field Foundation grantee, Block Club Chicago, announced that they recently hired a former Chicago Tribune reporter as a senior editor, it was celebrated, in part, because Dawn Rhodes brings a breadth of experience and because the news organization is expanding during a time when most newsrooms are shrinking their staffs.

But, while the addition of Rhodes brings a dynamic writer, reporter, and meticulously attentive line editor and self-starter to the organization, the move also lands the digital news site its first, full-time African American editor with decision making power. That means the story assignments, their placement on the website and sourcing will be vetted by a voice that reflects a community too often shut out of mainstream media.

One goal of the Field Foundation’s Media & Storytelling program is to amplify the voices and impact of African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American (ALAANA) journalists, media makers, and storytellers in the local media landscape. The addition of Rhodes to the staff, with the help of a grant aimed at editorial diversity growth, fits with our mission.

“We are truly emphasizing ALAANA within our newsroom, not only with our reporters but among our leadership as well,” said Maple Walker Lloyd,  Block Club Chicago’s director of development and community engagement, in an email. She is also African American. “We’re really excited about us being on an incline rather than a decline. We’re looking forward.”

Rhodes’ hiring comes at a time when there are a number of ALAANA voices being elevated at some major news organizations.  At the same time, too many mainstream newsrooms are struggling with diversity and inclusivity, especially in leadership roles.

In 1968, in response to numerous race riots that occurred across the country, the Kerner Commission published a report that concluded that one reason there was racial discord at the time was because of racist stereotypes pushed in the media. That report accused news outlets of imbalanced reporting and of ignoring issues that were important to the black community.

The only way news coverage would actually change is if newsrooms changed. And not only did newsrooms need ALAANA reporters, but they also needed decision-makers that reflect diverse perspectives, the Kerner Commission report concluded.

“… The press has too long basked in a white world looking out of it, if at all, with white men’s eyes and white perspective. That is no longer good enough. The painful process of readjustment that is required of the American news media must begin now,” the report said.

Still, some 50 years after that report was published, a number of news industry watchdog organizations found that its interrogation of the media still rang true. 

And while there has been some progress on diversity since the 1960s, there hasn’t been enough, recent statistics show.

In 2019, a survey of news organizations by the News Leaders Association found that only about 18.8 percent of people of color made up management at both print/digital and online publications.

Ideally, news organizations would make diversity and inclusion among management a priority on their own. But one way to ensure it is by making it a priority in philanthropic giving.

“The [push] in getting more women and women of color into news organizations’ management tier has made some progress, but it has been slow and needs to be improved upon,” said Teri Hayt, executive director of the News Leaders Association. “We believe that a diverse news staff will be a staff that connects with their community. Building back trust with our communities requires us to tell the stories of those communities, and it’s hard to do that when a news operation staff doesn’t reflect that community.”

Dawn Rhodes worked for a decade at the Chicago Tribune, one of the largest print publications in the Midwest. During her tenure, she covered general news assignments, wrote about west suburban municipal government and community issues. She also covered the state’s public and private universities and education policy.

While she thrived as a reporter, Rhodes said moving into editing felt like a natural progression. At the Tribune, she was tapped to work as a weekend editor and juggled both reporting stories and editing at the same time.

“I was at a stage where editing was more pleasurable for me,” she said. “I knew for a while that it was the next step. I didn’t see myself moving into another reporting role.”

Rhodes said she found herself informally mentoring younger reporters, helping them shape their writing voices and she wanted to have a stronger impact on their work.

Yet, there was no defined pathway to move from the daily grind of covering an important topic beat to management. To try to prepare herself for a bigger role in the newsroom, Rhodes attended leadership workshops sponsored by the Poynter Institute and what was once known as the American Society of News Editors. Still, she found it challenging to get a seat at the table where the actual editorial decisions were being mapped out, she said.

That changed when she was hired in April at Block Club Chicago.

“There just aren’t enough women of color, or people of color, who get to have an influence over the news coverage decisions,” Rhodes said. “It feels good to have a role that involves being a source of emotional support and advice, but I also get to directly influence the work that young people do. I can shape how they approach the stories, how they conceptualize the stories, how they write them, who they interview.

“I can finally say, as a woman of color, I am an editor now.”

Having Rhodes in a senior position also signals to the reporters and other ALAANA staffers that there is room for them to grow, said Maudlyne Ihejirika,  president of the National Association of Black Journalists Chicago Chapter. It gives them a colleague to talk to about sensitive conversations about race, to discuss what they encounter while doing their jobs and someone to confide in who has been on their same journey.

“While anyone can cover a story, the story must be identified and assigned,” Ihejirika said. “When there is no one in management with any nuanced perspective on the issues afflicting communities of color … there are stories that may never get told. And if they do get told, they may never be told in a way that unveils and reaches those communities to affect change.”

Rhodes’ position is funded, in part, by a Media & Storytelling grant that was awarded in January.


Lolly Bowean
Program Officer, Media & Storytelling




About Media & Storytelling

Lolly Bowean is the Media & Storytelling Program Officer. The goals of the Field Foundation’s Media & Storytelling program, a partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Democracy Fund, are to create more just and inclusive narratives about Chicago that foster policy change; amplify the voices and impact of African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American journalists, media makers and storytellers in the local media landscape; and support more reporting and storytelling by traditional and alternative journalism platforms about the root causes of the city’s inequities. Learn more about our program here.


A letter from Field Foundation Board President Gloria Castillo

By Field News

“In the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear?” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What have we failed to hear, America?  Why do we choose to look away?  Senior corporate leaders, are you sitting there, silent, expressing confusion and sorrow even as you send checks to politicians who consistently aid the wealthy? Are you wringing your hands and examining bias, talking about inclusion but voting for division?  The inconsistency is feeding the problem.  No, not all leaders are inconsistent. There are many who lead with their values.  Yet, we cannot possibly be here, watching a city burn (again) without the cover and support, or at least disinterest, of the wealthy and powerful.

America chokes on a deep-seated and deeply denied culture of human hierarchy; never has it been on greater display than in 2020.  Today, we are rightly focused on the senseless murder of George Floyd.  But, he is not alone.  We have watched black citizens killed on camera, immigrants languish in cages with no cameras to record their demise, and Native Americans suffer the highest per capita COVID 19 infection rates. Blacks and Latino workers concentrated in front line service positions find themselves disproportionately suffering and dying from COVID-19, bearing the burden of our demands to “reopen America” so we can be served. We can’t wait to have our food produced, meat processed, meals made, cocktails served, hair cut, and nails manicured largely by those who are deemed dispensable.  We may not say they are dispensable, yet we force them to make the Sophie’s choice between personal health and safety or putting food on their tables.

This nation was founded on a principle that the enslaved  and indentured servants were less than fully human.  We have invited people from Mexico and other Latin American countries to labor in our fields and factories and then send them back, time and again over our history, because they are seen only as instruments of labor, not men and women.  We have made progress, but this foundation of 400 years of inequality continues to distort our thinking, our public policies and our politics.

In absence of a national conversation to focus on reform and remedy, we make our choices about those who lead our nation.  That is the critical question we face.  Can you support a leader whose most considered response to unarmed protesters in Minneapolis is reminiscent of the civil rights opponents of the 60’s? Today, calling protesters “thugs”, the Commander in Chief threatened to deploy the military against American citizens, admonishing “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”  Where was his voice when white protesters in Michigan, armed with automatic weapons, demanded with impunity that the governor open businesses?

Today, the President invited violence against American citizens who demand to he heard. I realize his intent is, in part, to mobilize the minority of Americans who will be emboldened by these words, to cloak the dissemblance of the Department of Justice, to distract us from his incompetent handling of the coronavirus that has led to this precipitous recession and unemployment rates unseen since the Great Depression.  I am not endorsing looting, and I reject mob rule as a governance model. But, we can remain vigilant against violence while honoring the need to show that “Black Lives Matter.”

In November, as CEO of Chicago United, I called upon business leaders to stop supporting anyone who speaks in a manner that would be unacceptable in the halls of their organizations.  The time has come for consistency between the desire for a diverse and inclusive workplace and personal actions. If a senior leader in your business authorized deadly force by any manager who witnessed damage to company property, what would you do?  What should you do?  You have the answer.  Your employees are watching.  Future investors are watching. Our communities of color are watching. The world is watching.

Artists as Longtime First Responders

By Field News

UrbanTheater Company


When Field Fellow Tatiana Cortes and I met with Field Foundation grantee-partner UrbanTheater Company in early March, we spent only a short time talking about theater. As we stood in the middle of its empty storefront space in the heart of Humboldt Park, surrounded by remnants from its last production, directors Ivan Vega and Miranda Gonzalez shared recent successes like the world premiere of Back in the Day, an homage to Chicago House music. Vega and Gonzalez spoke about the transformative experience of coming to the end of a grant that was paired with one year of expert consulting through the Arts Work Fund to strengthen its operations. They shared details about the Quinceañera fundraiser they were organizing to celebrate the company’s 15th anniversary.

But also, without prompting, the conversation often lingered on the theater-adjacent work they were doing. They spoke about the way their lobby turns into a sliding-scale mental health facility in the months between productions, helping neighborhood mental health professionals build their practices without office overhead while remaining financially accessible. They talked about how their space is often donated to community members and officials for meetings and gatherings. They pointed out the voter ballot box tucked in the corner because they were serving as a polling site.

Ellie Lee / Circles and Ciphers

Before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Chicago, community-based arts organizations like UrbanTheater Company were already familiar with what it looked like to expand their work to respond to urgent needs. They have been responding to crises for quite some time. Addressing these needs while being cultural anchors was their pre-pandemic agenda, and although it’s not easy under current circumstances, they are pulling from those experiences and tools as this crisis unfolds and will continue to do so as Chicago’s communities continue to weather the storm.

They’re also demonstrating how art isn’t just essential to how recovery happens and how we collectively heal, but is essential to how communities survive today, two months, and two years from now.

Brave Space Alliance

Many artists, arts organizations, collectives, and artist-run businesses do expansive work that spills into and pulls from so many other sectors and issue areas. We are fortunate to live in a city with a cultural sector that knows how multifaceted our cultural institutions are, but there is still a lot of work within and outside of the sector that must be done to have this hybridized way of working understood more widely. As we settle into the relief and recovery period of the pandemic, the call for an expanded view that has community and racial equity at its core has hit a fever pitch. Many are searching for a path forward that interrogates, deconstructs, and rethinks the systems and policies within and surrounding the cultural sector and the common causes that impact everyone, including cultural workers. What the pandemic and relief efforts have made clear is that artists and cultural workers are very much in need of basic relief of all kinds in order to support their families, health, creative practices, businesses, community spaces, organizations, and staff.

Candice Washington / Real Men Charities Inc.

At the same time, cultural workers aren’t just in need of relief, they are also powerful providers of relief. They are creating mutual aid support systems, artist-to-artist and artist-centered emergency grants, relief funds for cultural producers, and artist stimulus packages. Cultural workers are establishing youth-elder check-in networks, art-infused peace circles, and mental health support networks for black communities. They have launched no-contact food distribution networks, food pantries for black and brown transgender South Siders, food and PPE distribution hubs, and senior safety kits in some of the hardest-hit areas of Chicago. Artists are mobilizing around calls for decarceration at Cook County Jail and advocating for the safety of temp workers who are working in risky environments. They are making shifts in their fashion production work and employing refugees, immigrants, and working-class women to mass-produce PPE.

There’s a unique kind of relief that only artists can provide that arguably everyone in Chicago and the country have been benefiting from. It’s a relief that has been key to helping us get through each day: the albums, films, web series, books, recipes, poems, and musician battles via Instagram that have provided a soundtrack to this quarantine experience. All of these things are brought to you by artists, the arts, and culture—whether or not we define it or identify it as such.

Echoing the recent message of the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund (AIRF), take a moment to imagine your life without art—during a pandemic or otherwise. With that in mind, remember that artists and cultural workers are standing alongside all of us who are hurting and working to find and provide relief and healing. Artists and the venues, museums, libraries, and cultural hubs that care for and present their work are essential to our city’s infrastructure and are part of the DNA of what makes Chicago, and our entire state, great. Our artists and cultural institutions absolutely must be a part of whatever future is ahead of us.

Whether you’re donating to the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund while spending time with Illinois artists, showing support for Chicago’s theater community, dreaming up more equitable visions for the cultural sector’s future, or simply making culture part of your daily routine, know this: an investment in the arts is an investment in your own well-being and that of everyone around you. Without the arts, we lose the glue that ultimately holds us all together and paves the path to healing.


Explore the COVID-19 responses and projects of the Art portfolio below.

Tempestt Hazel
Program Officer, Art

What Are Chicago Leaders Facing?

By Field News

Organizer Monica Cosby taking part in a Solidarity Caravan Tuesday, April 7, 2020, advocating for #MassReleaseNow of people incarcerated in Cook County Jail, as well as state and federal facilities. // Photo by Sarah-Ji.


As the Leadership Investment Program Officer at the Field Foundation, I am dedicated to working with Chicago’s aspiring and recognized leaders and their organizations, with one of my main roles managing 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). It is an honor to award and work in partnership with incredible leaders from art, justice, and media and storytelling areas across the city of Chicago.

In 2019, we were extremely proud to announce 14 Leaders as our inaugural awardees. Collectively these 14 individuals represent Chicago, from every corner of the city, many South and West Side communities, and each of the Foundation’s four program areas. You can read more about them here.

This starts as an award but quickly becomes a community. After the money arrives, the power of the cohort materializes organically. The awardees determine what is needed and we as a foundation work to make it happen. They lead, they design, we try to keep up. The main metric of success of this program is asking the question “Have we as a foundation built trust?”  Trust to be told the truth of how they spent the no-strings-attached award. They do not at all have to let us know, but if we do our job right, they will. Have we built trust to know what they are seeing, learning, struggling with daily? If we do our job right, they will know we are here not to evaluate but to listen and learn, grieve, and celebrate alongside them.

In this moment of a global pandemic, Chicagoans are being deeply affected and often experiencing complete erasures of income and resources, especially in communities of color. The deep fissures caused by systemic racism are becoming wider.

One of the 2019 Leaders for a New Chicago awardees, Heather Miller, executive director of American Indian Center, reached out to me with the following note:

There’s so much hysteria and chaos going on that people are making snap decisions without quality information and rational thought or conversation. I am sure that I am not the only leader dealing with community responses to all this chaos. Would/could we do an update or response to the current crisis as an update on where the leaders are now? Especially as we think about this next round of leaders? I’m so tired of the chaos and trying to manage through all of it but also thinking of the positive outcomes of everything.

We at Field decided to dedicate this newsletter to the Leaders and turn the mic over to them. Here some of the most visionary leaders in our city have stepped up to share where they are at and what’s happening in their communities and organizations, to name fears and uncertainties, and to share dreams of how we might and should be mobilized to come out of this in a radically different and let us hope…better place.

This isn’t watered down. They responded with stories of frustration, anger, disbelief, and stories of mobilization, organizing, and creating joy in the face of uncertainty. Sarah Ross in her work with Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project described the devastating effects of COVID-19 in prison, “Hell is the only word I can think of,” and we see Monica Cosby from Westside Justice Center in the photo above participating in an action to bring light to this crisis. In the Media & Storytelling program area, Aymar Jean Christian of OTV shared their movement to “bring people joy, entertainment, and useful information” to the Chicago community. City Bureau’s Darryl Holliday talks about the Chicago COVID Resource Finder, a data bank of over 1,300 neighborhood, city, county, and state resources that can be filtered so people can easily find what they need. Imelda Salazar of Southwest Organizing Project and Analía Rodríguez of Latino Union shared moments of hope and inspiration amidst their grassroots justice-based organizing work. From Imelda, “Flowers are blooming but I see our leaders blooming in their leadership like taking on leading sessions, leading trainings. I’m proud of the families that we work with and proud of the team.” And I leave you with this vision of surviving from Analía, “This community needs so much from us, and it’s also strong, and inspiring, and will survive this and much more because this community has survived many other battles. We are strong because we have each other and as long as we have each other we will get through this.”

Here are some of the 2019 Leaders for a New Chicago.

In their own words.

In this moment.



Co-director of Art and Exhibitions,
Prison + Neighborhoods Arts Project

It’s been said again and again that this crisis is exposing the inequities we see across the United States. What is on my mind daily is what is happening in U.S. prisons, specifically Stateville where I teach. The stories from people incarcerated there, relayed from their friends and family, are horrific. We are hearing that there is not enough soap, people only get single squirts of hand sanitizer, and that more and more people—both incarcerated people and staff—are getting sick. Some men have said they are stuck in a cell with another sick person, others say that they constantly hear people yelling for medics. When the second person died two weeks ago, men were yelling from their cells to come and remove the deceased person but that it took more than 30 minutes to do so. Hell is the only word that I can think of.

The conditions of healthcare in jails, prisons and detention centers across the country are already abhorrent, with the spread of COVID-19, these places are not Petri dishes, as [Cook County Board President] Toni Preckwinkle mentioned, they are death traps.

I’ve been working with the Illinois Coalition for Higher Education in Prison who was able to contract with a distillery to make hand sanitizer to send to all 25 adult state prisons. We spent some 47K acquiring the sanitizer (the first shipment went to IDOC’s distribution center this week and we hope the sanitizer will get out to incarcerated people in prisons very soon. Credit for the heavy lifting on this effort goes to the Education Justice Project). Why are we, a grassroots group of educators, able to raise money, coordinate with local distributors, and more when jails, prisons, and detention centers have paid workers and budgets? I feel so enraged at this moment and also afraid that the students I left in March will not be there when I return. For quite some time, national and state think tanks, have modeled out what it would take to dramatically reduce the prison population overnight. This can be done, it must be done. We need to release elderly people, people who are over 50 years old, and people who have served a significant time of their sentence. People with previous health conditions need to be released. We can do this and be safe. As a caring society we have to demand that the governor releases people, and now.


Co-founder, OTV | Open Television

The OTV team has pulled together in this time of crisis to deliver information and entertainment to our community. We’re supporting and caring for each other (remotely) and everyone’s doing their best work.

We are planning to move the first half of our season online/live-streaming and are excited about the possibility of creating content for social media that brings people joy, entertainment, & useful information—not just the bad/triggering news that’s flooding our feeds. We’ve done live online information sessions about emergency resources, exercise classes, and meditation/ritual practice sessions weekly on Instagram (all paid opportunities to local artists!), with plans to interview artists and community leaders/activists before premiering new series through Facebook and Vimeo in May. Some of the shows have had to cancel production but many shows have already shot so we’ll definitely be able to premiere new works. People have been great and we are always welcoming more support.

We’re excited that in a time of social distancing being a small-scale online TV platform is exactly the kind of work that can maintain local/global community bonds through art & entertainment.


Co-founder and News Lab Director, City Bureau

Our first priority during the coronavirus was the safety and well-being of our staff. In the first weeks of the pandemic, we transitioned all of our work online, including all of our regular community events. After taking many deep breaths, we began reaching out to our direct-service partners for some deep listening around local information needs. Based on what we heard, we launched two new projects.

This week, City Bureau introduced the Chicago COVID Resource Finder, a data bank of over 1,300 neighborhood, city, county, and state resources that can be filtered so people can easily find what they need. Resources can be sorted by who is eligible (immigrants, families, business owners), what is offered (food, money, legal help), languages spoken, and location. You can access it via SMS and by the end of the week, the Resource Finder will be translated into 10 languages. In conjunction with the COVID Resource Finder, we’re also introducing our Information Aid Network, a phone tree for information access that will continue beyond the pandemic. Starting this week, City Bureau’s Documenters community will make calls to people with limited digital access in partnership with local organizations and Free Press’ News Voices to fact-check rumors, answer questions and connect people with local journalists. If you represent a direct-service organization in or near Chicago, we want to work with you to meet your community’s information needs—fill out this form to start the conversation.


Executive Director, Latino Union

Day laborers and household workers are low wage workers, mostly immigrants who cannot benefit from many of the resources out there due to immigration status and not having one regular employer. Latino Union is supporting these workers with resources and also by continuing to build community amongst our members in these unprecedented times. We had a membership call with 40+ members participating. We heard hard stories on how folks are struggling financially, the effects on them and their families, and one member dealing with her son who has been infected by COVID-19. We heard all this and we also heard members coming together saying: “I will cook a meal for you” “We are here for you” “I have some water, diapers, I can give to someone in need” “I don’t have much, but what I can spare I can offer to others.” These are inspiring words! These are just some things that the day laborer and household worker community at Latino Union are offering to each other. This community needs so much from us, and it’s also strong, and inspiring, and will survive this and much more because this community has survived many other battles. We are strong because we have each other and as long as we have each other we will get through this.


Organizer, Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP)

The first week that the shelter in place started, the week of the 15th, we had canvassing scheduled for the census. People were calling me and asking, “So what are we going to do? How are we doing this?” and then I said we can switch it to phone calls instead of knocking on doors so it’s comfortable and safe. Everybody—colleagues, staff, leaders, other people that were not even working on census before this—said, “Yes let’s do it!” I created an Excel sheet for the call information. We asked each person to call 10 people in their networks and provided names and phone numbers per institution they belong (school, church, etc). From March 16th through March 30th, we did 3,200 calls. I was really encouraging them to ask people how they are doing with the current virus, what’s important to them right now and then from those calls, we created networks of support for seniors and we identified who wanted to help to get the medicine or groceries and then we identified that first week, March 16th to the 23rd, who needed groceries and stuff. We talked to churches, I talked to some therapists that I trust in the neighborhood, and there is a social worker that used to work for us and I asked if he was willing to lead a listening session with people. He was so successful because people wanted to talk and he really had good conversations. We had ten of those in groups averaging 16 people, in both English and in Spanish.

People are losing their jobs, they don’t know their future because there is no testing, so we have all that going on but I think the organizing around the census helped. People just want to vent and when they do that they discover new ways of doing things. I’m really proud of everybody, moms are becoming teachers now and learning how to use their technology and it’s been really energizing for me as a leader. Flowers are blooming but I see our leaders blooming in their leadership like taking on leading sessions, leading trainings. I’m proud of the families that we work with and proud of the team. SWOP organizers and staff are supporting the community in so many ways.


Executive Director, American Indian Center

First off, we are feeling unseen. The Indian community was on everyone’s radar before in regard to funding and land acknowledgments but now we are feeling unseen. We have been fighting erasure for so long and then it feels like we’ve been erased again.

Second, I laid off all my staff. It’s been two weeks. I think we’re going on week number three. And I knew that it was going to be a really hard decision, but I knew this had to be and was my decision. We don’t know when any grants are going to come because everything pretty much got delayed and pushed back and we don’t know what youth programming is going to look like for the summer since the community can’t come into the office and we can’t bring people together. We don’t have a reserve or rainy-day funds, so you know as soon as something bad happens we don’t really have any way to react to it. I wanted to make sure they were eligible for unemployment right away. Of course, they’re pretty much coming to the Center every day while keeping their distance of course. That’s who they are. I told them and they know this is not permanent. We continue to need support for the work American Indian Center, CAIIC, and other native organizations are doing.

I was able to bring the staff back this week. We put in for the payroll protection program. I need them. We need them. I tell the staff that they make me essential. And they have enjoyed reminding me of that one time that I fired them. So yeah, our Indian humor hasn’t died.


With humor and grace and struggle and love, these leaders have given us a window into how Chicago’s communities and organizations are responding and re-envisioning in the wake of this global pandemic. We are lucky to support and work alongside such fierce people and we find inspiration in each one of their stories. We hope you do too.

Hilesh Patel 
Program Officer,
Leadership Investment

For Journalists of Color, Tracking by Race During COVID is About EQUITY

By Field News

Alex Garcia, Three Story Media


By Lolly Bowean
Program Officer, Media & Storytelling

Many residents were just starting to feel the fatigue of mandatory quarantines and self-distancing to prevent the rapid spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus when Charles Blow of the New York Times, Michael Harriot of The Root, Elliot Ramos and Maria Ines Zamudio of WBEZ took to social media to demand data correlated based on race.

It wasn’t an attempt to divide, Harriot explained in a Twitter thread last week. But rather it was an effort to call attention to the most vulnerable communities that have less access to health care while suffering from many underlying conditions. Harriot pointed out that African Americans are often dismissed by health care professionals and are most likely to be on the front line working in low-wage positions at grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and other places deemed essential.

“People keep wondering why we want to inject race into a global pandemic,” Harriot explained. “Seriously, Coronavirus is racist. Not only does it seem to target black areas, but the CDC’s list of factors that may exacerbate COVID-19 all disproportionately affect blacks.”

These journalists were simply doing their jobs—asking the tough questions and publicly shaming institutions for not responding to information requests. Yet, buried in their push for statistics was the validation that African American, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American (ALAANA) journalists and journalism organizations are needed now more than ever.

Throughout the region, small ALAANA owned and focused news organizations are filling the information gaps and using their limited resources to spread the news to their communities.

Here in Chicago, The Crusader began chronicling the death toll and publishing obituaries for African American residents who died because of the virus.

In their emailed newsletters, The Chicago Defender and Bronzecomm have been publishing lists of resources: where lower-income residents can access free food, how they can sign up for rental assistance and where they can find protective face masks and gloves.

On top of their full-time reporting jobs, Maria Ines Zamudio of WBEZ and Laura N. Rodriguez Presa of the Chicago Tribune started a Spanish-language podcast to translate the message for non-English speaking audiences. That effort, Zamudio said, came in part because she had to call her mother every morning and translate the COVID related news for her.

“This is for your mom, your tia and la vecina chismosa,” she wrote on her Twitter feed, which means your uncle or aunt and gossipy neighbor.

On the national stage, it has been ALAANA journalists using their platforms to call even more attention to the disparities and call out the inequities and racism attached to the response.

Take the columnist Charles Blow, who has criticized the federal government for politicizing the crisis by first racializing it as a “Chinese virus,” and later failing to acknowledge how it impacts the black community.

“I’m particularly frustrated by the lack of data,” he said in a recent Twitter Live conversation that he hosted to discuss the virus’ impact on minority communities. “I do not understand the lack of race-specific data being made available. It should be there.

“Tell people who is most affected and it saves lives,” he said.

The work of these ALAANA journalists means that organizers can advocate for resources and community servants can focus on the people most in need.

As one of the only black journalists in the White House press corps in the 1950s, Ethel Payne said doing her job often meant asking the questions no one else would, and putting race and disparity at the center of the conversation. Payne, who wrote for the Defender, would use her questions to force even the mainstream media to pay attention to issues that plagued black America, she said.

“The white press was so busy asking questions on other issues that the blacks and their problems were completely ignored,” Payne said, according to Eye on the Struggle, a best-selling biography that chronicles her life. “I would think carefully about what kinds of questions I would ask …”

By asking questions about race relative to COVID, today’s journalists of color are doing just what Payne did decades ago—putting the focus right where it belongs. And making a conversation that was isolated to one community a national priority.




Lolly Bowean is the Media & Storytelling Program Officer. The goals of the Field Foundation’s Media & Storytelling program, a partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Democracy Fund, are to: create more just and inclusive narratives about Chicago that foster policy change; amplify the voices and impact of African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American journalists, media makers and storytellers in the local media landscape; and support more reporting and storytelling by traditional and alternative journalism platforms about the root causes of the city’s inequities. Learn more about our program here.

Our next deadline for submission is May 15.

The Field Foundation is proud to partner with the McCormick Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Driehaus, Polk Bros. and the Chicago Community Trust to support ALAANA journalists and small media organizations working to gather information related to the COVID-19 crisis. Apply for emergency funds here.

BE READY: Census 2020 Count Me In IL

By Field News

A few years ago, I invited a former student of mine to talk with a group about preparing for the world of work after graduation. Her presentation was smart, thoughtful and funny. Someone in the class then asked her what was the best advice she had ever received. Her answer was, “be ready to be ready.” Her father, an immigrant from China, had repeated these words over and over to his daughter when she was young, and it stuck.

Years later—this mantra, “be ready to be ready” sticks with me. It’s something I say (and think) all the time. It can be when my kids have a test coming up or a pop quiz feels eminent or when I learn of new issues from our grantees and think of all the ways we at Field can help. When ideas flow in our program meetings and my hand starts to sketch out the solutions in bright graphic designs. Even now, as every day brings a new challenge and we must rebalance our lives in new ways, we all live in a constant state of being ready to be ready.

Being ready today involves a mix of tending to the firehose of what is considered immediate needs and making sure to not sleep on what is critical long-term equity work and strategy. Getting our national infrastructure ready for the next decade falls into this latter category and why so many of us are urging folks to complete the U.S. 2020 Census.

Consider this: the U.S. 2020 Census affects funding for schools, roads and hospitals, firefighters, and resources for people who need it most. It helps elect community leaders on school boards and city councils.

We receive more than $20 billion of the $675 billion in federal funding through U.S. Census data annually. This funding is critical—especially for marginalized communities—be they urban or rural.

At Field, we are proud of our involvement in the IL Count Me In 2020 initiative at Forefront where dozens of foundations came together over the past year to generate more than $1.75 million in needed resources to nonprofit partners throughout the state—especially those working with hard to count communities to help get every person in Illinois counted.

We are also proud of so many in the nonprofit sector, many of our grantees, all of the community-based organizations who have spent the past year readying to get a sound count out despite rhetoric and mixed messaging. In this moment, competition for our attention is at an all-time high as the newsfeeds, tweets, emails and opinions crowd us all. There are so many questions to consider in this moment: Should you wear a mask? Do you wear gloves? Can I see my friends or co-workers? And, how can all the planning to execute a sound Census work in this quarantined world?

The moment calls for us to react quickly while preparing for an incredible new day on the horizon.

Illinois stands to lose out on tremendous resources and state representation in Washington. The Census isn’t just a document declaring who we are, it demands we are heard and given the power and resources we deserve. We must be ready to be ready, right now—from our homes—by going online, by calling the Census Bureau, or by filling out your paper form when it arrives in the mail.

If history has provided any insight for us, it is this—we will come through this and when we do, we can be better for it.

To learn more, please visit

To complete the 2020 Census,


Mark Murray
Vice President, Programs and Administration, Field Foundation
Co-Chair, IL Count Me In 2020

Welcome Our New Media & Storytelling Program Officer, Lolly Bowean!

By Field News

We are so excited to share with you that beginning April 1, 2020, award-winning journalist, Lolly Bowean, will become the Field Foundation’s new Media & Storytelling Program Officer.

Lolly Bowean was a general assignment reporter at the Chicago Tribune for more than 15 years with a focus on urban affairs, youth culture, housing, Chicago communities and government relations. She wrote primarily about Chicago’s unique African American community and the development of the Obama Presidential Center.

During her tenure, she covered the death of Nelson Mandela, violence in troubled neighborhoods, and the 2008 election and inauguration of President Barack Obama. Most recently, she wrote about the election of Chicago’s first African American woman mayor, Lori Lightfoot. In addition, she’s covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the last gathering of the original Tuskegee Airmen.

Before joining the Chicago Tribune, Bowean covered suburban crime, government and environmental issues for the Times-Picayune in NewOrleans.

She has been published in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, Lenny Letter and Longreads. She has served as a contributing instructor for the Poynter Institute and lectured at the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and is the former program officer for the Chicago Headline Club. She was a 2017 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and is a Studs Terkel Award winner. In 2019 she became the first African American awarded the Gene Burd Urban Journalism Award. She is a Pulitzer prize-nominated writer who lives on the South Side of Chicago.




The goals of the Field Foundation’s Media & Storytelling program are to create more just and inclusive narratives about Chicago that foster policy change; amplify the voices and impact of African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American journalists, media makers and storytellers in the local media landscape; and support more reporting and storytelling by traditional and alternative journalism platforms about the root causes of the city’s inequities.

To learn more about this program area, visit

Launching Nation’s First Innovation-Focused Philanthropy Center in Chicago – March 2020

By Field News, Uncategorized



Emerald-Jane Hunter
(312) 291-1099


FBRK Impact House Will Serve and Support Family Foundations, Grant Makers and Impact Investors Committed to Social Change

NOVEMBER 13, 2019 – CHICAGO, IL – Israel Idonije, entrepreneur, humanitarian and former NFL player, broke ground on the ​FBRK Impact House​ at 200 W. Madison Street in Chicago. Set to open in March 2020, the 45,000 square-foot space will be the city’s first innovation-focused philanthropy center dedicated to serving and supporting grant makers, family foundations and impact investors.

Local foundations, media and Chicagoans attended the groundbreaking event, which revealed design plans, reinforced the need for the facility and further discussed the vision for the new space. The event featured remarks from Idonije, as well as Candace Moore, Chief Equity Officer for the City of Chicago and Angelique Power, President, The Field Foundation.

FBRK Impact House, founded by Israel Idonije is the result of a shared vision between FBRK, The Field Foundation, Woods Fund, United States Artists and Forefront, with the core desire to unify Chicago’s Impact Community, break down silos, encourage collaboration and provide greater access to opportunities.

FBRK Impact House will serve as a membership-based work club with a thoughtfully designed ecosystem to provide a balance of private offices, work space, meeting and conference rooms where impact organizations can work together, collaborate and operate with greater efficiency.

“Chicago is filled with wonderful people who are committed to making our city better,” said Idonije. “FBRK Impact House will offer an inviting, transparent environment to foster relationships among organizations — a framework in which the philanthropic community will thrive.”

According to the most recent Giving in Illinois report, there are more than 5,200 grant-making institutions in the state, managing more than $39 billion in assets. Together, these organizations have reached a giving record of $4.6 billion in 2016 – collectively nearly tripling the amount of giving since 2006.

Despite this, challenges for grant-making institutions often include working in isolation, having laborious application and review practices and being intimidating to approach. FBRK Impact House will provide a creative and safe space for these organizations to meet, ideate and collaborate. The FBRK Impact House will be the first space of its kind in the country.

“Our vision is to create an open, loving community where it is easy to interact with philanthropy,” commented Angelique Power, president of The Field Foundation, an anchor tenant of FBRK Impact House. “We’ve created different spaces in the facility to connect – a restaurant, conference rooms, podcast rooms, as well as are offering Forefront programming. We are providing various opportunities to exchange ideas, learn from and with each other and to share backend costs.”

FBRK Impact House will occupy three floors of the 200 W. Madison building owned by Multi-Employer Property Trust (MEPT) advised by BentallGreenOak. It will include a public worklounge and restaurant on the street-level first floor, with membership access to the offices, lounges and amenities on the second and third floors.

FBRK Impact House is partnered with Leopardo for construction, BOX Studio for architecture and design, The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group, as well as tenant advisors Larry Serota, Cece Conway and Holly Bailey of Transwestern.

With a commitment to working together more transparently and collaboratively to bring more benefit to Chicago and beyond, FBRK Impact House will open its doors in March 2020 with many prestigious organizations in its inaugural community. In addition to the anchor tenants, FBRK Impact House will be the new home for A Better Chicago, Chicago Public Library Foundation, Children First Fund, Pillars Fund and Knight Family Foundation. Grant makers, family foundations and impact investors will also be able to join the FBRK Impact House community and take advantage of the numerous amenities and opportunities through an annual Access Membership.

To learn more about FBRK Impact House and Access Membership, please visit:​.

About FBRK Impact House​: FBRK Impact House is Chicago’s first innovation-focused philanthropy center dedicated to serving and supporting grant makers, family foundations and impact investors. FBRK Impact House is a division of FBRK, LLC, based in Chicago, IL. For more information visit ​​.


Click here to visit our FBRK Impact House page.

Fall 2019 Grantees

By Field News, Grantees, Uncategorized

Field Foundation Board Members and Life Directors met on September 19 and approved our latest round of grantees. These organizations represent our grantmaking model of Community Empowerment through Justice, Art, Media & Storytelling and Leadership Investment. 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 cannabis legalization. The Art portfolio focuses on space-making and capacity-building, with continued emphasis on the intersections within Art and Justice. The inaugural Media & Storytelling portfolio supports ALAANA leadership and outlets that are taking multifaceted approaches to disrupting inequities within the media map. And our Leadership Investment portfolio doubles down on supporting the visionaries across our city working in our program areas of Justice, Art and Media & Storytelling. We are proud of our Fall 2019 grantees and are inspired by their bold vision and work.

Justice portfolio


Art portfolio


Media & Storytelling portfolio


Leadership Investment portfolio


Field Foundation Announces Its First Leaders For A New Chicago Award Recipients

By Field News

PHONE: 773.704.7246



CHICAGO — The Field Foundation today announced the 14 recipients of its inaugural Leaders for a New Chicago award, supported by a $2.1 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to expand the definition of leadership in Chicago.

“In Chicago we have no shortage of brilliant minds working every day to change lives and reshape our city,” said Angelique Power, president, the Field Foundation. “We are so honored to be in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation as we hand over a megaphone, share resources, and then sit back and watch as these incredible people continue to soar, bringing our city to more just and beautiful places than we could’ve ever imagined.”

Although more than 60 percent of Chicago residents are from African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA) communities, the city’s civic leadership does not reflect these demographics or the influence of other individuals and communities whose voices are often not heard.

The Leaders for a New Chicago award recognizes a range of established and emerging leaders who work across boundaries to build a Chicago that is responsive and equitable to all.


Monica Cosby, a leader of the participatory defense work at Westside Justice Center and one of the leading advocates for incarcerated women and the fight for post-incarceration rights in Chicago.

Luis Gutiérrez, founder of Latinos Progresando, which helps Latino immigrants navigate the complexities of the U.S. immigration system and is the largest, Latinx-led immigration legal clinic in the state.

Darryl Holliday, co-founder and News Lab director at City Bureau, a civic newsroom based on Chicago’s South Side that has created a community-centered model for accountability journalism.

• Aymar Jean Christian, a scholar, producer, and writer/director, started Open Television in 2015 as a platform for intersectional media programming by Chicago-based artists.

• Tonika Lewis Johnson, a visual artist/photographer from Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, who explores urban segregation and documents the nuance and richness of the black community.

• Page May, advocate, community organizer and co-founder of Assata’s Daughters, which creates a space where Black youth can learn political education from Black women and gender non-conforming people.

• Heather Miller (Wyandotte Nation), executive director of the American Indian Center, also serves as a Chicago-based advocate for the American Indian community through an art-centered focus.

• Emmanuel Pratt, co-founder and executive director of the Sweet Water Foundation, which practices Regenerative Neighborhood Development to transform vacant spaces and abandoned buildings in the Englewood and Washington Park neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side.

• Viveka Ray-Mazumder, manager of youth organizing and the KINETIC program at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, works to mobilize, coordinate, and encourage civic engagement and grassroots organizing among Asian American and immigrant youth in Chicago.

• Analia Rodriguez, a lifelong advocate for immigrant, labor, and women’s rights and executive director of Latino Union of Chicago. Rodriguez develops the leadership capacity of low-wage, immigrant workers so they can lead the fight themselves.

• Sarah Ross, co-founder and co-director of Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project, which works at the intersection of art and justice, collaborating with incarcerated artists and writers to exhibit their work and engage in dialogue.

• Imelda Salazar, a longtime champion for justice in Southwest Chicago, first as a fully engaged community resident, then as a leader and now as an organizer with the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP).

• Carlos Tortolero, a former Chicago Public Schools educator, is the founder and president of the National Museum of Mexican Art, a platform for driving civic dialogue through art exhibitions in Chicago’s Pilsen community.

• J. Gibran Villalobos, Partnership and Engagement Liaison with the Museum of Contemporary Art, who develops relationships with community-based organizations and artists through outreach and community engagement to amplify ALAANA voices in the arts.

“The city is eager for broader perspectives and new ways of telling our collective story,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “These awards will ensure more voices contribute to the decisions that shape our city. MacArthur is proud to partner with Field to increase access for innovative and effective individuals and organizations that reflect the city’s diversity. This is an opportunity for philanthropy to begin to reimagine how we recognize the leadership and power that exists in communities.”

Based on the Field Foundation’s innovative grantmaking model of Community Empowerment through Justice, Art, Media & Storytelling and Leadership Investment, no-strings attached awards of $25,000 go to each of the 14 leaders, and an additional $25,000 goes to the general operating funds of their affiliated organizations.

As Chicago redefines itself, the Leaders for a New Chicago award will advance equity and access to opportunity. It will foster conditions that recognize and promote individuals who bring a broad diversity of backgrounds and experiences to civic debate about the city’s future.

The awardees are leaders who impact the civic and cultural life of our city. Whether they are well known or on the rise, the awardees all work to achieve a vision of a more equitable and just 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 Field Foundation.

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 corruption in Nigeria. 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 has invested $1.4 billion in over 1,500 organizations and individuals across the Chicago region, more than any other place around the world. The Foundation’s Chicago Commitment is focused on strengthening organizations, contributing to civic partnerships, investing in vital communities, advancing influential and diverse leaders and cultivating creative expression and art.


For full 2019 Leaders bios, visit Meet the 2019 Leaders or click here:

Meet the 2019 Leaders