Field Awards $1M to 34 Local Organizations

By Field News

In this newsletter
you will find:


  • Congratulations to our Fall 2021 Grantees 
  • Field welcomes new Grants Administrator Zoe Magierek
  • Field in the News 


Meet our Fall 2021

The Field Foundation proudly announces its Fall 2021 grantees. In this grant cycle we awarded more than $1 million to 34 organizations—new and returning grantee partners—that are located in and/or focused on communities highlighted in Field’s heat map. As always, the majority of our dollars are given to BIPOC visionaries that are working to change systems, narratives, policies and support creative enterprise.

Congratulations to all of our Fall 2021 grantees, whose impact in the areas of Art, Justice and Media & Storytelling continues to transform Chicago. Click on the logos to learn more about each organization.



Media & Storytelling 

Welcome Field’s New Grants Administrator Zoe Magierek

The Field Foundation recently welcomed Zoe Magierek as its new Grants Administrator. Previously, she was the Manager of Knowledge Service at Forefront and has worked as a librarian in special, academic and medical libraries. She actively volunteers with children and animals, and serves as the vice-chair of the Library Technical Assistant program advisory board at Wright College. She has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in library science from Dominican University. Welcome, Zoe!

Field in the News… 

Photo of analía rodríguez taken at Field offices at FBRK Impact House by José M. Osorio, courtesy of Chicago Tribune.

In October, the Chicago Tribune profiled Leadership Investment Program Officer analía rodríguez and their leadership journey from organizer and Awardee in the first Leaders for a New Chicago cohort, to a funder who now manages the program.

Says analía in the story: “By coming together, we can make changes that will reach and benefit others outside of our communities. Organizing is about building relationships, building community and growing together. A big part of it is leadership development. I have now the opportunity to continue organizing in a different context, supporting the development of leaders as a funder.”





Field Foundation Welcomes New Leadership Investment Program Officer analía rodríguez

By Field News

Welcome Leadership Investment Program Officer analía rodríguez

analía rodríguez

The Field Foundation is pleased to welcome its new Leadership Investment Program Officer analía rodríguez! rodríguez (they/them/elle) is a longtime community organizer and immediate former executive director of the Latino Union of Chicago, a grassroots community organization that fights wage theft and advocates for improved temporary worker conditions. They live in Little Village. In their role as Leadership Investment Program Officer at Field, rodríguez (who does not capitalize their name) will be primarily responsible for managing Field’s signature Leaders for a New Chicago program, an innovative partnership between Field and MacArthur Foundations that recognizes past accomplishments and promotes leaders and their organizations, and whose influence informs decision-making in Chicago.

Notably, rodríguez was a member of the first 2019 Leaders for a New Chicago cohort.

“When I won the award I was shocked. I think we all wondered what was the catch,” rodríguez said. “When I understood what it really was, I thought it was refreshing that a foundation trusts you enough to say ‘this is for you in recognition of your work, and there’s no strings attached.’ It felt genuine, and that’s what I liked. I look forward to advancing this work and recognizing leadership in Chicago from the ground up.”

Deeper alumni engagement with previous cohorts, ongoing professional development and working collaboratively with Leaders on long-range strategic solutions for some of the city’s most challenging issues are among rodríguez’s priorities in the new role.

“There’s a perception that a leader is someone who just works works works from 6AM to midnight and that’s it. But the Award comes with resources that show how important it is for leaders to have the space for reflection, rest and growth,” rodríguez said. “And I think it will be important to get these leaders together to look at what it will take to make Chicago a city that works for everybody. It’s about us working collectively to build community.”

Field Chief Operating Officer Mark Murray said rodríguez’s long history in Chicago and work as a grassroots organizer, along with the knowledge and experience of being part of the inaugural Leaders cohort, made them perfect for the role.

“analía has already demonstrated not only that they are a strong leader, but that they know how to recognize, harness and develop leadership,” Murray said. “Their knowledge and ability to organize around leadership is important to Field and MacArthur, and our entire city.”

As National Hispanic Heritage Month continues, rodríguez recognized the importance of representation in philanthropy. The Latinx community represents about 20 percent of the population, but only represented at 10 percent in philanthropy as program officers, and only 2 percent of foundation CEOs are Latinx.

“I’m an immigrant. I was born and raised in Durango, Mexico. I always think back to where I come from. “The town where I was born is only a few blocks wide. I came to Chicago not speaking a word of English,” rodríguez said. “So the idea of seeing where I am now? Yes, I hope somebody will see that and also believe they can do anything they want and really make a difference in this city.”


Field Board Chair and Justice Program Officer Commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month



Earlier this month, Field Board Chair Gloria Castillo and Justice Program Officer Angelica Chavez sat down with celebrity chef Carlos Gaytán, owner of Tzuco, to discuss representation and the rich heritage of Latinx communities in Chicago in this CBS Chicago clip.

“I think it is really an important time for us to recognize the richness and diversity of Latino communities.” –Gloria Castillo, Field Foundation Board Chair







Grants Administrator

By Field News




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 over 80 years. The Field Foundation aims its grantmaking toward the goal of Community Empowerment through Justice, Art 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 the city’s most divested communities.

At the heart of the Field Foundation’s work is a commitment to community-centered empowerment.


If you like keeping things organized and are mission driven the role of Grants Administrator could be for you.

The Grants Administrator will be a critical member of the Field Foundation Team, operating as the grants management lead (50%), providing administrative assistance (25%) and human resource management (25%). This unique role reports jointly to the President and Chief Operating Officer. The Grants Administrator works across all areas of the Foundation, including Human Resources, and collaborates with accounting and IT to ensure effective and efficient grantmaking processes. The Grants Administrator also serves as the system administrator for the Foundation’s grants management database. Currently this role is 80% remote with one day in the office per week.


Grant Management (50%)

  • Maintain working knowledge of the Foundation’s programs and priority funding areas and remain abreast of current research, activities, and trends in the philanthropic
  • Lead the grants management and reporting with the Foundation’s external funding partners and their related grants.
  • Monitor grants for legal, financial, and program compliance including but not limited to ensuring that grant requirements are correctly documented in the grant files and database.
  • Monitor and document the grantmaking workflow processes, forms, templates, reports and data to assure full compliance with internal controls and legal
  • Generate reports and data analysis for program and finance team or
  • Problem-solve complex grant scenarios; consult/liaise with finance and/or legal
  • Work with finance to generate reporting required for compliance and financial statement
  • Partner with members of the program team and finance personnel to ensure accurate and adequate paper and electronic document
  • Maintain regular communication with other foundation professionals in the grants management

System Administration

  • Ensure all staff are aware and knowledgeable of grants management processes and technology to the degree their functions This includes designing dashboards and training staff both formally and informally. Implement and maintain protocols for testing and reconciling data accuracy and making timely and accurate database changes.
  • Manage system upgrades, troubleshooting, and roll-out of updates including staff notifications and training.
  • Develop training materials and standard operating procedures.

Administrative Assistance and Human Resources (25%)

  • Lead the scheduling of the Foundation President’s internal and external meetings including any needed preparation and follow-up.
  • Organize the Foundation’s board and committee meetings including location, food, reminders, and other correspondence.
  • Manage renewal and pricing of insurance plans: health, life, disability, dental, flex spending, transit, general liability and 403b.
  • Update/maintain staff paid time off records.
  • Maintain and manage personnel files.
  • Assist in end of year personnel salary adjustments such as letters informing employees of salary adjustments.
  • Assist in updating the Foundation’s employee handbook/policies.
  • Liaison with an online HR consultant to understand best practices and to update policies.
  • Assist with generating contracts for consultants.
  • Assist in the hiring or terminating of employees.

Other Responsibilities (25%)

  • Manage and organize payment of foundation bills and invoices using QuickBooks.
  • Organize and maintain a shared staff calendar leading zoom and in person scheduling for Field team.
  • Assist with board book production and preparation.
  • Assist in editing materials and preparing relevant
  • Design and maintain filing systems for the Foundation’s paper and electronic records including holding confidential and HR related documents.
  • Participate in weekly staff
  • Participate in weekly substantive check-ins with the Chief Operating Officer.
  • Collaborate with Program Team, Finance Team, IT, and President on special projects as
  • Perform other related projects or work as


The Grants Administrator will be motivated by a passion for the Field Foundation’s mission and a drive for continuous learning and improvement. This role requires an individual who can balance strong attention to detail and analytical skills with an engaging, consultative, relationship-focused approach to working with people.

A successful Grants Administrator will share the values of the Field Foundation and be adept at managing a project from inception to completion and have an innate ability to prioritize and synthesize information. A comfort with ambiguity and competing priorities is vital.

Additional, valued qualifications include:

  • Ability and knowledge of QuickBooks and paying bills online
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, especially with Excel and Word
  • Experience with database systems, (Foundant) or comparable grants management software preferred
  • Familiarity with private foundation approaches, grant requirements and processes
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively to meet weekly, monthly, and quarterly deadlines
  • Professional, flexible, with an ability to multitask and a can-do attitude

Candidates should have a minimum of five–seven years of professional work experience, with some knowledge of nonprofits or grantmaking. Legal administrative experience and management systems is helpful but not required. Knowledge of Chicago and its south and west side communities is an advantage.


The Foundation offers an excellent benefits package and offers a salary of $80,000.


Please send an email referring to GRANTS ADMINISTRATOR POSTION in the subject line along with a resume and one-page cover letter explaining your interest and how your skills and work experience fit the position to

To download the position description click here.






Podcasts are a Living Recording of our Experiences

By Field News

Photo from Sistematic Podcast


For years, as twin sisters Samantha and Alexis Smyser-De Leon attended protests, sit-ins and workshops the two women noticed that often women were in the spaces, leading the conversations and even pitching in to organize the events.

Yet, when the events were reported on in the local news, too often it was cis male voices that were given the spotlight and recognition. It was that absence of Black and Latinx women’s voices that led the two women to start “Sistematic Podcast,” which is taped and edited in Humboldt Park.

“We felt there was a lack of visibility when it came to young women of color. We didn’t hear our voices or see our stories represented in the media,” Samantha Smyser-De Leon said. “When it comes to talking about politics, government and popular culture, we didn’t see people who sounded like us or who came from our background doing the talking. We wanted to lend our perspective and create a platform for people like us.”

In their first three seasons, Samantha and Alexis interviewed cis women, transgender women and non-binary activists and scholars who helped explain the movement to defund police, the political movement in Puerto Rico and Black Womanhood. In their most recent episodes, the sisters have broached healing from sexual assault, discussed what it was like to get the COVID-19 vaccination and sat in conversation with a mental health and trauma expert who calls herself ‘The Drag Therapist.’

“In our work, we try to be as grassroots oriented as possible,” Alexis Smyser-De Leon said. “The podcast community is diverse, but it could use more voices. When you look at the most popular podcasts a lot are still not hosted or anchored by diverse producers … we know so many people who have important stories to tell and need a platform to share them.”

A major goal of Field’s Media and Storytelling portfolio is to support voices from Chicago’s communities that are too often overlooked. Field is especially focused on African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American voices that provide balanced perspectives and that are venturing into media spaces where representation is missing.

Audio journalism was once viewed as a vintage, sometimes old-fashioned way of delivering information and news to communities—especially as traditional radios became outdated and news shows had to compete with other content accessible through smart phones.

Yet podcasts, which have been around since the early 2000s, corralled new interest in audio storytelling. In recent years, celebrities like former First Lady Michelle Obama, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, scholars Roxanne Gay and Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom and journalists Farai ChideyaTrymaine Lee and Jemele Hill have all leaned into podcasts as an extension of their brands and reach. Since 2018, the number of available podcast shows has tripled, to around two million, and approximately 80 million Americans are weekly podcast listeners, according to Edison Research. But while 43 percent of listeners identify as BIPOC, or non-white, the podcasts with the largest audiences are white-led.

Still, podcasting is a special venture for Black and Latinx creators, said Talib Jasir, the founder of Afros and Audio annual Podcast Conference and the Vanguard Podcast Network. It’s an accessible medium that allows grassroots residents to tell their own stories.

“There are no gatekeepers in podcasting,” he said. “That’s the main reason we are showing up in this medium. There is no one saying ‘No, you can’t create here.’ You can put a microphone to your mouth and share your opinion or your expertise no matter what. It’s an opportunity to not be censored, to not hold back, and to be ourselves unapologetically.”

In the current moment, producing and recording podcasts allow media creatives to master audio editing, script writing, interviewing, producing and a host of other skills, Jasir said. But there’s a deeper reason the medium is important.

“Podcasting is a living recording of our experiences today,” Jasir said. “Long after we are done trying to get listeners, and trying to get guest interviews, it is a record of our existence.”

“There are so many topics being tackled (on podcasts) and there is someone who is waiting to hear someone who sounds like them and who is talking to them.”

Kyla Williams and Letitia Fowler began recording their first podcast as a passion project more than seven years ago. “The Pisces Life Podcast” gave the two women, who are rooted in the south suburbs of Chicago, a chance to discuss issues impacting Black life like wage disparities, poor access to medical care and marriage rates for Black women. Ultimately, the venture gave Williams and Fowler a way to connect what they were talking about to a larger collective of people talking about the same topics.

“Podcasts, for a lot of people, have been about finding your tribe and being able to connect with that tribe when you want to,” Fowler said. “When there are things happening in your life and you are looking for information and an answer. A lot of folks are turning to podcasts because that’s a place you can get that conversation you’ve been longing to have. You can build a new world of new people that feel like friends.”

In 2020, influenced by the pandemic, Williams and Fowler shifted their format and began capturing stories related to COVID-19. For their “Survivance” podcast, Williams and Fowler interviewed a college student who was the last to move out of her dorm during the height of the pandemic because she didn’t have the resources to get back home. They talked with a Native American community leader about how that community wasn’t being prioritized for testing, treatment or to receive the vaccine. They also talked with a funeral home director whose business increased because of the pandemic but who admitted to being overwhelmed with grief.

“’Survivance’ has been an eye-opening opportunity for us,” Williams said, explaining that she found herself learning from the stories she gathered. “We finally felt permission to tell our stories in a very candid fashion, without a filter and with a lot of honesty. ‘Survivance’ gives us a chance to be ourselves.”

For Judith McCray, starting her “Change Agents” podcast incubator offered a chance to teach the craft to a collective of ambitious story tellers, mainly on the South and West Sides of Chicago.

“I’m still stunned at how little the field of journalism has opened up to young producers and editors of color,” she said. “I was intentional to use this (incubator) as a way to give young journalists of color to create reels, and use it to deepen their networks and lead to experience for paid jobs. We focused on recruiting emerging journalists to build up their expertise and access in a field that is way too prohibitive for people of color.”

Once McCray and her charges recorded, edited and delivered their podcast stories, they found it led to more conversations—outside the studio. The group has hosted virtual town hall meetings and gatherings to unpack even more deeply the stories they recorded.

“There is still too much coverage in the mainstream media that looks at communities of color as victims,” McCray said. “We … found the stories of change and took on issues knowing that it was something happening, but not being covered.”



Lolly Bowean manages the Media and Storytelling portfolio. The goals of the Field Foundation’s Media and 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.


Letter of Inquiry portal for Winter 2022


The Letter of Inquiry portal for Winter 2022 grant consideration in the areas of Art, Justice and Media and Storytelling is open. The deadline for submission is Wednesday, September 15, 2021. View a recorded information session to learn more about the Foundation’s program areas and the application process.  For more information on how to apply, please visit our website.


We Are Walking Skyscrapers

By Field News

Historic Field Building. Photo courtesy of  City of Chicago. 

We Are Walking Skyscrapers

A Farewell Message from President Angelique Power 


In a little less than a week’s time I will leave Chicago and subsequently my post as President of the mighty Field Foundation. In doing so I will leave a piece of my heart behind.

One doesn’t just live in Chicago. Regardless of whether you were born here or move here, we are all of this city. While we are told it is a city of neighborhoods, it is honestly a city of people – simultaneously down-to-earth and driven by mile-high aspirations.

Doers and dreamers, we are proud to be from not one community, but many overlapping communities. We are House music, and machine politics, block parties and syncopated sounds rising from buckets at every corner. We are walking skyscrapers and powerful Lake Michigan waves.

I carry this with me.

A piece of my heart will always beat to the sounds of conversations floating between the colorful couches and vibrant plants within FBRK Impact House. Alive with possibility of collaboration at every turn – near the podcast room, and by the kitchens, beside the prayer room or by the downstairs bar. I am so honored to have been part of conceptualizing this space for many to dream and do great things together.

Much of my heart will always ride with the members of the Field Foundation board. Bold and forthcoming. Dedicated to not just hoping that the arc of history bends toward justice but busily grabbing and shaping that arc on the daily – from every perch they occupy personally and professionally. These are the giants whose dedication to changing the world is made manifest every time they enter a room.

The staff. Man oh man the staff. These stellar humans won’t be able to get rid of me. Their brilliance, candor, passion and love; it has fed and fortified me. It has been the greatest honor to walk with them and learn from them. Their work is your work, their voice, lifting your voice. They have changed the idea of what it means to practice justice, what defines artists and the arts, what leadership looks like and who can own narratives that shape our understanding of what actually is and what actually might be.

And deeply, deeply I will miss all of you. Everyday I’ve been at Field, I’ve learned from you and with you. I feel honored to have been able to get up to so much together. The work we’ve collectively done to ground philanthropy in racial justice is only just beginning. The organizers, artists, journalists and storytellers – you are the visionaries and bright lights. You are the hope for a new Chicago. You are the ones that will continue to hold us all to account.

It is truly because of my time at Field, deepening my practice with board, staff, each of you that I am taking this leap into what awaits me. This year of sitting still and being rooted in self has left us all asking what we can do with this one beautiful and complicated life. How do we make meaning? For those who do not know, I will soon join the incredible Skillman Foundation, based in Detroit and dedicated to children and youth. It has long been working on racial justice issues and on unlocking equity for young people in education systems and beyond.

Now, Detroiters don’t play. It is a Black and Brown city. It is a young city (median age is 34). They have been hard at work for some time on creating an equitable city that works for everyone. Skillman’s work is a model for how you live in the interstitial spaces between sectors, center youth voice and create massive change. And in this moment, after a year of uprisings led by young Black and Brown people, the opportunity to join this work in that city calls me in ways I can explain and in ways I cannot yet. Walking out on faith, I am heading into this new electric space ready to listen, learn and stretch into what awaits.

In the meantime, the Field Foundation and Chicago is teeming with true believers. Believers not in what is, but in what might be. My heart has expanded with all of you. My heart carries each of you.

Thanks for helping me grow and deepen my knowledge of myself. Thank you for making me smarter. Thank you for letting me take risks and be forthright in what is right and where I go wrong. All of the work only deepens after I leave.

Our work is rooted in the soil – and as the world opens up again, so do we, so do we.


With love and gratitude,



Field Announces Departure of President Angelique Power & Launches Nationwide Search for Next Leader

By Field News

Dear Trusted Partners and Grantees,

Over the past five years, the Field Foundation has grown and transformed in exciting and important ways. We have doubled our giving – and therefore our impact across Chicago – while strengthening our partnerships and dedication to racial equity. This recommitment to our core values and the expansion of our work has been in large part due to the passionate leadership of President Angelique Power. 

It is with great excitement for her new chapter that I am pleased to announce that Angelique Power has been named President of The Skillman Foundation, a Detroit-based, education-focused private foundation. As Angelique transitions out of her role as Field President in July, I am thrilled to share that Mark Murray, who has been with the Field Foundation since 2003 and many of you have worked closely with, has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer and will lead the Foundation as we conduct a nationwide search for our next President. 

Angelique Power is a once-in-a-generation leader who uniquely understood the importance of strengthening our racial justice work. She will be deeply missed. There is no doubt that her footprint will continue to strengthen Chicago for years to come. We wish her tremendous success in her new role and will forever cherish her tenure with us. We are grateful to Mark Murray for his continued leadership as we search for our next President. 

In the coming weeks we will engage an Executive Search firm and can address any questions you may have regarding our succession plan. We are committed to executing a seamless transition and your current relationships at the program officer level will remain the same.

We look forward to continuing Angelique’s legacy and dedication to equity and empowerment as we strive to be thoughtful and intentional partners to communities throughout Chicago for decades to come.


Gloria Castillo

Board Chair

Announcing Our 2021 Cohort: Leaders for a New Chicago

By Field News

Contact: Sabrina L. Miller




10 Leaders awarded for groundbreaking work across the city


CHICAGO – The Field Foundation, in partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, today announced the 2021 Leaders for a New Chicago cohort. The leadership awards, created in 2019, are part of Field’s ongoing investment in racial justice visionaries and organizations addressing systemic issues in Chicago’s historically underserved communities. The MacArthur Foundation committed $2.1 million to support the awards to recognize and support a diverse group of leaders from communities directly impacted by Chicago’s history of structural racism, discrimination, and disinvestment.

Each Leader will receive a no-strings-attached award for $25,000 in recognition of past accomplishments, and their affiliated organizations each will receive an additional $25,000 general operating grant.

The 10 leaders, whose work aligns with Field’s grantmaking areas of Justice, Media & Storytelling, and Art, represent a diversity of religion, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age and expertise, and individuals from different geographies and income levels. Some are CEOs and executive directors, some are creators and co-founders, some are activists and organizers, and some are part of collective, shared leadership models.

“We continue to be inspired by these powerful visionaries,” said Field Foundation Leadership Investment Program Officer Hilesh Patel. “The Leaders for a New Chicago Award continues to find where power lives inside our communities, and provides the support and funding these folks need to dream bigger so they can continue to create change.”

Said MacArthur Senior Program Officer, Chicago Commitment, Geoffrey Banks: “We are proud to play a part in elevating the voices of individuals who are leaders in their communities and professional fields and to provide them with unrestricted support to keep pursuing their goals and personal growth as they change the landscape of our city.”




LaSaia Wade, founder and executive director, Brave Space Alliance
Wade founded Brave Space Alliance, Chicago’s first Black-led, transgender-staffed LGBTQ center located on the South Side designed to create and provide affirming and culturally competent services for the entire LBGTQ+ community in Chicago. These services include mutual aid programs, a food crisis pantry, support groups, an LGBTQ + BIPOC-centered job board, HIV-testing and more. She is amplifying the voices of transgender people of color in Chicago and building their capacity and decision-making at individual, community and city-wide policy levels.

Grace Pai, director of organizing, Asian Americans Advancing Justice/Chicago
As an experienced community organizer with a demonstrated history of working to advance racial, economic, social, and environmental justice, Pai has built strong relationships with local institutions and elected officials to build coalitions and pass legislation. Recently, she played an integral role in the Illinois Legislature passing The Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History Act (TEAACH) mandating Asian American history be taught in all Illinois public schools.

Damon A. Williams, co-director, #LetUsBreathe Collective
Williams is a movement builder, organizer, hip-hop performing artist, educator and media maker from the South Side of Chicago. He has led direct action and program development that started with mobilizing resources to support the Ferguson, MO. uprisings following the 2014 death of Michael Brown by police. As the Movement 4 Black Lives emerged, #LetUsBreathe became the primary bridge between Ferguson and Chicago. Williams organized a mass effort to redistribute police funding toward health facing services in the city.

Tony Alvarado-Rivera, executive director, Chicago Freedom School
Alvarado-Rivera creates a unique and radical educational space in Chicago dedicated to youth activism, leadership, and movement building. Last summer, on the evening of the George Floyd protests in the Chicago Loop, Chicago Freedom School opened its doors in the South Loop to young protestors and were cited by the Chicago Police Department. In response, Alvarado-Rivera led a 10-count lawsuit against the city citing that the victims’ constitutional rights to free speech and freedom from “unreasonable illegal search” were violated.

Aislinn Pulley, co-executive director, Chicago Torture Justice Center
In her role with Chicago Torture Justice Center, Pulley works toward healing for survivors and communities impacted by police violence in a practice that is survivor-led and built on shared power. A founding member of Black Lives Matter’s local Chicago chapter, she helped to bring the nationwide impact of racial justice work home to Chicago in response to the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson, MO. police. She works with movement leaders nationwide and continues to connect Chicago Torture Justice Center’s work to broader dialogues around reparations.


Brandon “Chief Manny” Calhoun, co-founder, the Era Footwork Crew
Calhoun is recognized as one of the strongest voices in Chicago for dance and is committed to using footwork as a connector and teaching tool to bring communities across the city together, while simultaneously bringing attention to the South and West Sides of Chicago. In 2014, he co-founded the Era Footwork Crew. Pioneers of Chicago footwork, a style of music and battle dance that’s been gathering pace in Chicago since the late 90s, the Era Footwork Crew has expanded upon what it means to be a dance crew, addressing inequality and racism through their practice.

Malik Gillani, co-executive artistic director, Silk Road Rising
Through Silk Road Rising, Gillani has long challenged the misperceptions and inequities reinforced in traditional theater practices and institutional theater models. In his role as co-executive artistic director, he counters negative images and stereotypes of Asian, Middle Eastern and Muslim people with representation grounded in authentic, multi-faceted, human experiences. His presence in the performing arts sector is vital to a field that struggles to decenter whiteness within storytelling and performance.

Meida Teresa McNeal, artistic and managing director, Honey Pot Performance
With Honey Pot Performance, McNeal supports the development of new works by artists of color aligned with its commitment to performance, storytelling, and the Black experience. She drove and helped launch the Chicago Black Social Culture Map, documenting Black social life through live programs, a digital map, and archiving events. A multi-organizational collaboration, Chicago Black Social Culture Map researched Chicago’s Black social culture across the 20th century from the First Great Migration through the birth of House music.

Monica Lynne Haslip, founder and executive director of Little Black Pearl
Initially operating out of her home 26 years ago, Haslip founded Little Black Pearl as an innovative arts and culture institution designed to create positive vehicles for children and families to thrive. She has utilized the Little Black Pearl platform to demonstrate the power of art as a social justice tool, using imagination and the critical role of transformation in meeting community needs. Her philosophy and art practice are anchored in racial equity and the intersection of art, education and community development.


Maira Khwaja, director of public strategy at Invisible Institute
Since joining the organization in 2016, Khwaja has built an entire area of the organization around civic education and sustained listening, and has facilitated citywide public dialogues to eradicate police misconduct. As managing editor of the recently released Chicago Police Torture Archive, Khwaja played a central role in shepherding a four-year project to document torture experienced by over 100 Black people and make their stories and legal papers accessible to students, families, organizers, researchers, and attorneys.

This year, Leaders from the 2020 cohort recommended the 2021 award recipients and served on the Award Selection Committee, which is co-facilitated by Field Foundation Leadership Investment Program Officer Hilesh Patel and MacArthur Foundation Senior Program Officer Geoffrey Banks.


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

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-incarcerationglobal climate changenuclear 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 has invested $1.4 billion in more than 1,600 organizations and individuals across the Chicago region—more than any other place in 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. Learn more at

Spring 2021 Grantees

By Field News, Grantees

The Field Foundation proudly announces its Spring 2021 grantees. In this grant cycle we awarded more than $1.4 million to 35 organizations—new and returning grantee partners—that are located in and/or focused on communities highlighted in Field’s heat map. As always, the majority of our dollars are given to BIPOC visionaries that are working to change systems, narratives, policies and creative enterprise.

Congratulations to all of our Spring 2021 grantees, whose impact in the areas of Art, Justice and Media & Storytelling continues to transform Chicago.








Media & Storytelling 





Verses And Verzuz

By Field News

It began with texts. Who’s watching Swizz Beatz vs Timbaland? Erykah Badu vs Jill Scott? Verzuz TV right now. D’Angelo. Earth, Wind & Fire vs. The Isley Brothers. Who’s listening?  

For those who aren’t in my group texts and have no idea what I am talking about – it’s a global phenomenon and artistic export of the pandemic called Verzuz TV. It started on Instagram in March 2020 as lock downs were happening across the world. Created by producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, it’s framed as a virtual battle but is really a musical mashup between creative minds; be they musicians or DJs. Two ten-song rounds. Three hours. Live streamed then preserved for posterity.

The thrill comes from the chemistry of the partners, the intent to create something bigger than either, the connectivity of a larger community all grooving to what is sparking from the mixing of these elements. And every comment of the audience becomes part of the moving wallpaper on the screen. Watching your name and comment rise along with others – some famous, some friends- adds to the feeling that while apart physically for these moments we are all absolutely connected and creating something wild, unpredictable, meaningful and most of all DEEPLY needed.

This Verzuz spirit is fervent inside the Field Foundation. Think of us as willing musicians seeking out partners to jam with us. Eager producers looking to amplify others. Excited audience members ready to throw up black hearts and brown hand emojis.

Our work in the areas of Art, Justice, Media & Storytelling and Leadership Investment allows us to deploy that Verzuz spirit across sectors and keep our pulse—and our grant making—on the most urgent issues of our time.

As the nation grapples with policing that is far too often deadly to Black and Brown bodies, we are also managing a horrific spike in shooting deaths of civilians, including children, by Chicago Police. Just a few hours after heaving a collective sigh of relief over Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict for murdering George Floyd, Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old girl with an easy smile who liked to make Tik Tok hair videos, was shot dead by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio. Since testimony began in Chauvin’s trial on March 29, more than three people a day have died at the hands of law enforcement, according to the New York Times.

In Chicago, Black and Brown death, trauma and grief continue to lead the news, as we’ve been subjected to a steady stream of deadly police body cam videos showing the last moments of the lives of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez.

Our grantee partners have been at the forefront of organizing, doing the difficult work of resistance, shouting truth to power. Dismantling. Rebuilding anew. There is so much work to be done.

Part of that work has been shifting narratives and planning around COVID-19. Building on our heatmaps we created in 2017 to study how race and need align in Chicago we are honored to present the Mapping COVID-19 Recovery project, working with nearly 30 foundation, nonprofit and research entities. Rather than trying to solve for COVID-19, we’ve created an interactive mapping project that illuminates how lack of investment and inequitable policies created a tinderbox. COVID-19 is only the current match. Our dream is that we all use these maps to plan our way thoughtfully toward recovery where we dismantle the tinderbox permanently by focusing on investing in and supporting locally sourced power. We believe if enough of us, in different sectors, understand  the racialized history and inequitable policies of the past, we can align resources differently.  We can change the game. Because the game must change for each of us to recover.

Our fate is linked. Like Verzuz, we are an ensemble.

We have a lot to share, so keep reading for a deeper dive into the projects and partners in the mix and, as always, hit us up to send feedback, to collaborate, to jam with us. And I’ll be looking for you on May 8th when SWV battles Xscape on Verzuz, or in our zooms, our collaborations, at the grocery store, on walks by the lake, in our one-on-ones or when we get to be shoulder-to-shoulder on the daily again.

In the meantime, black heart and brown hand emojis floating out to you all,




Mapping COVID-19 Recovery: Understanding our Past to Create an Equitable Future



The devastating impact of COVID-19 in the Black and Latinx communities in Chicago has highlighted inequitable policies and historic divestment on the South and West sides. Community recovery will require collective and rapid action to rectify history rather than repeat it. Last summer, a groundbreaking collaborative of philanthropic stakeholders and researchers representing 25 organizations agreed to share data about shifting investments in response to the pandemic, and examine what more could be done.

The result is the Mapping COVID-19 Recovery project, which standardizes data through a series of maps illustrating where public, private and philanthropic sector investments are going in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the goal of strategic reinvestment and recovery to close historic funding gaps and rebuild stronger communities. The maps are downloadable, accessible to the public and meant to be widely shared.

Among the early findings: The year before the pandemic, foundations funded more downtown Chicago organizations than predominantly BIPOC communities on the south and west sides. Since the pandemic began, more dollars have been invested in BIPOC communities and with BIPOC-led organizations.

On April 22nd, in collaboration with the National Association of Black Journalists-Chicago Chapter, the project and the website were presented to the public in a Facebook Live event. Award-winning Chicago Sun-Times reporter and columnist Maudlyne Ihejerika, NABJ-Chicago Chapter President, moderated the event, which featured a panel discussion with Angelique Power, Healthy Communities Foundation President Maria Pesqueira and Dan Cooper, director of research at Metropolitan Planning Council.

Our thanks to WBEZ for the story How Maps Show the Need for Racial Equity in Chicago’s Road to COVID-19 Recovery.

We encourage everyone to access the website, but especially organizers, policymakers and investors from the public, private and philanthropic sectors as you move forward with long-term investment planning.


Local Foundation Trustees Call to Action: The Time is Now 


Inspired by ABFE’s Investment Manager Diversity Pledge, 31 trustees from 12 major, Chicago-area philanthropies penned an open letter urging foundation peers to step up racial equity efforts by amplifying endowment investments. A 2017 study commissioned by the Knight Foundation revealed that despite no statistically significant difference in performance between diverse firms and their white industry peers, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) and women-owned firms represented only 1.1 percent of the industry’s total $71.4 trillion in assets under management.

The letter appeared in Crain’s Chicago Business and reads in part:

“As foundation trustees, we call on philanthropy to put its money where its anti-racism statements are. It is not enough to simply commit funding to communities for post-COVID recovery and social justice.

To be sure, amplified grant-making is an essential first step in redressing historic inequity and creating accountability. But foundations must look beyond grant-making to advance racial equity; most immediately they must commit to diversifying endowment investments…”

Read the full letter here: Job One for Local Philanthropies: Diversify Endowment Investments.


Cicero Independiente is a bilingual, independent news outlet founded in 2019 for Cicero residents. It is a treasured grantee partner in Field’s Media & Storytelling portfolio.

Please watch this video to learn more about their groundbreaking work in Cicero, and how they are changing the media landscape in Chicagoland. This interview with co-founders April Alonso and Irene Romulo was conducted and edited by Field Communications Fellow Sofia Gabriel del Callejo.


Reminder: The Letter of Inquiry portal for Fall grant consideration in the areas of Art, Justice and Media & Storytelling is now open! The deadline for submission is Monday, May 17, 2021. For more information on how to apply, please visit our website.

I Am Walking History

By Field News

Celebrating Black History by Documenting the Black Present

Image courtesy of W.D. Floyd


In her more than 50 years of working at The Chicago Crusader newspaper, Dorothy Leavell can vividly remember the pulsating energy of the newsroom as reporters covered the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to Marquette Park in 1966.

She can instantly recall the rush of excitement in the office from reporters writing about the 1963 March on Washington, and years later the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana. She clearly remembers overseeing the coverage of the mayoral campaign of Harold Washington and his eventual election.

Leavell can even remember lesser known historical events the paper covered, like the electric chair execution of James Dukes, a Black man convicted of killing a police officer. The Crusader used Dukes’ legal case to push for abolishing the death penalty.

“I am walking history,” she said. “I can recall so many instances that went on to become big, big deals. We tried to give those events blanket coverage at a time when our resources were even more scarce than now. People volunteered and would call and give us on the scene accounts.

“Looking back, it’s history. At the time, we were doing our job of pushing for better conditions, better housing, better jobs for Blacks,” said Leavell.

Leavell was an administrator at The Crusader in the 1960s. She replaced her husband, Balm L. Leavell, as publisher in 1968 when he died.

As the country turns its attention toward the past to celebrate Black history this month, for many African American journalists and storytellers, honoring Black history has meant documenting the Black present and the Black presence.

For Leavell, that has meant covering the daily lives, the events, the issues and occurrences relevant to Black people, even as most of the community remained neglected and overlooked by other media outlets.

Similarly, the founders of The Chicago Defender didn’t create the paper to make history or even with a mission of recording history for Black people, said Marc Sengstacke, who is a grandnephew of the paper’s creator and longtime publisher Robert Sengstacke Abbott. The Defender staff wanted to draw attention to Black life in the moment and push for justice and equality—a better future, he said.

“When my granduncle started The Chicago Defender, one reason he did it is because the mainstream media published so little about African Americans,” Sengstacke said. “Our people did more than commit crimes, live and die. Many African American newspapers were founded and flourished for that same reason: they gave us stories (about us), we couldn’t see anywhere else.”

Throughout the 1900s, The Defender wrote about job insecurity, unfair wages, rampant discrimination, and especially the violent racial terrorism enacted upon African Americans living in the South. The writers, editors and publisher used the news pages to advocate for a mass Black exodus from the South to Chicago.

The newspaper documented the experiences of African Americans who migrated here and is credited for spurring the Great Migration.

The paper’s coverage not only informed the community at the time, Sengstacke said, the coverage shapes what we now know about the period. That’s a role the Black press—and Black reporters, writers and storytellers—still play, he said.

“Even though the mainstream media is covering African American issues more, there are still stories and news and information in the African American community going uncovered,” he said. “The Black press fills that void.”

Sengstacke is no longer with The Defender newspaper staff. Instead he and his family run the organization’s foundation, The Chicago Defender Charities, which, among other things, helps train younger journalists to go into newsrooms and cover the Black community with authority, balance and nuance.

A major goal of Field’s Media and Storytelling portfolio is to support voices from Chicago’s communities that are too often overlooked. Field is especially focused on African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American voices that provide balanced perspectives and nuanced views from residents that don’t get their stories told.

For photojournalist and portrait photographer W.D. Floyd, the historical journey of Black people in Chicago informs all of his work, he said.

In many ways, it’s easier to look backward—history allows us to criticize without personally offending and to romanticize without accountability. But while the majority celebrate a Black past, Floyd says his mission is to photograph Black people in their everyday lives—without a catalyst news event as reason to snap images.

“For so long, Black people haven’t had the agency to control how we were viewed in front of the lens,” he said. “Photography was used as a propaganda tool—it was weaponized to hurt us. Then, when Black folks were able to photograph themselves, it came with the (baggage) of the politics of respectability because we felt we had to prove we could look and act like White people.”

So, for Floyd, he concentrates on taking street portraits—images of African Americans living in their everyday moments, which reflects the tradition of James Van Der Zee, Jamel Shabazz and Dawoud Bey. And when Floyd is teaching his younger charges at his West Side photojournalism camp for 360 Nation, he tells them to ask their subjects if they can take their photo before shooting. That way, the subjects can have authority in the process and help determine how they want to be documented.

“The question that gets raised is ‘what’s the point of photographing them?’,” he said, about outsiders who sometimes probe his work that doesn’t center celebrities, politicians or even the wealthy. “But I know we are worthy. I know that there are great historical implications in making images of Black people in our spaces that, one day, may not even still be here. I know the photographs we make today … there will be greater significance for them later.”

Likewise, Leavell said when helping to decide what her newsroom will focus on and where it will direct its attention, she thinks about the present moment and what it will mean for the future—as generations look back on the history being made today.

“If it ever gets to the point where our story is being told widely and accurately by the mainstream media, and that puts me out of business, I’m not going to be mad,” she said. “But I can’t see that happening soon. Only the Black press has been consistent in telling our stories. We need a Black voice to put word on paper about what’s happening in our community.”



Lolly Bowean manages the Media & Storytelling portfolio. 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.


Lolly Bowean
Media & Storytelling Program Officer 


2021 Leaders for a New Chicago Nominations are Open!

A program of Field Foundation
supported by the MacArthur Foundation

The  Leaders for a New Chicago Award  Award enters its third year in 2021. The award recognizes past accomplishments and promotes and advances a range of leaders whose influence will inform decision making across the city of Chicago. This unique, no-strings-attached $50,000 award ($25,000 for the individual and, if eligible, $25,000 for their affiliated not-for-profit corporation) will be awarded to between 10 and 15 awardees per year.

The program seeks to build a more inclusive Chicago by tapping communities outside of the city’s current power structure. These grants will go to established or emerging Chicago leaders for past accomplishments.

The nomination portal opens today, February 1, and closes March 1.