2.6 Million Pounds of Nutritious Food Purchased for Area Residents Thanks to The 2010 Unity Challenge

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The Chicago Community Trust’s donors rally to support organizations helping the neediest in Chicago

By pooling charitable resources we are able to respond to those families that need our help in keeping food on the table and a roof over their heads.

The Chicago Community Trust, metropolitan Chicago’s community foundation, announces today the first round of $1 million in grants from The 2010 Unity Challenge, an initiative connecting the generosity of donors with effective strategies to expand capacity of nonprofit agencies meeting such basic human needs as food and shelter. Feeding Illinois, a recipient of a $250,000 grant, will be able to secure another $1 million of federal matching dollars and purchase 2.6 million pounds of nutritious food—the equivalent of more than 2 million meals for families with children in Illinois. Feeding Illinois is one of seven organizations that received a grant during this round.

In response to the economic crisis the Trust has allocated additional resources to meet basic human needs and first organized The Unity Challenge in 2008 to motivate additional donor contributions to increase the funds available. A total of $4 million was distributed in 2009.

“The effects of the economic crisis on Chicago’s most vulnerable residents will be felt for some time,” said Terry Mazany, president and chief executive officer of the Trust. “By pooling charitable resources we are able to respond to those families that need our help in keeping food on the table and a roof over their heads. The Unity Challenge is a success due to the generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations in this region.”

Data collected via Metro Chicago Vital Signs continue to show an increase in unemployment and foreclosure rates as well as utilization of food stamps and food pantries. For the first round of 2010 Unity Challenge grants, the Trust focused on areas of need where the Trust can leverage a 1:4 match from the federal government Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) matching program, and where continuity of support is critical.

The following organizations received a Unity Challenge Grant:
Hunger - $250,000
Feeding Illinois – A grant of $250,000 will allow Feeding Illinois to draw down $1 million in federal TANF match to purchase food to benefit households with children whose income is at or below 200% of the poverty level. It is anticipated that with the support from the Trust and the match from the federal government, Feeding Illinois will be able to purchase 2.6 million pounds of nutritious food - the equivalent of more than 2 million meals for families with children in Illinois.

Emergency assistance - $200,000
Catholic Charities handles the homeless prevention hotline and manages programs designed to provide immediate relief to help low-income households with rent and utilities assistance, medical bills and medicine, employment and transportation support. Funding support from the Trust will allow Catholic Charities to spend $100,000 on direct assistance for rent/utilities/housing-related serving 150 families; $50,000 on food purchases providing 73,000 meals and $50,000 to support staff providing emergency services and referrals to help low-income households.

Eye care - $50,000
The Illinois School of Optometry provides free, comprehensive primary and advanced eye care to under- and uninsured low-income adults, largely referred by community-based agencies. The majority of the patients come from Chicago’s South Side. These patients receive examinations, follow-up care including diagnostic testing, eyeglasses and other treatments. Patients with permanent vision loss are also eligible to receive services which include support groups, low vision devices to enhance daily living, education and employment, and therapy services to develop or improve skills to process visual information. The $50,000 grant from the Trust will allow the School to apply for $200,000 federal TANF match which will assist approximately 1,000 low-income adults.

Regional response to the foreclosure crisis - $500,000

Foreclosure rates continue to climb in our region, with a record 70,000 households receiving a foreclosure notice in 2009. The Trust has provided leadership to develop a regional action plan to address this problem more systemically. Through this plan, government agencies, financial institutions and nonprofits are working together on strategic initiatives that are designed to have greater impact on mitigating the foreclosure crisis. In order to put this plan to work, timely funding needs to be made available to key agencies that can provide systemwide and community-based leadership to implement the regional action plan. The following grants were made in the priority funding area of foreclosure:

Housing Action Illinois - $100,000
This grant will be used to provide training and educational materials to 80+ housing counselors and legal aid providers from more than 20 nonprofit agencies serving the Chicago region. Housing Action Illinois will also provide support for the housing counseling network via electronic newsletters and legislative and policy alerts.

Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus- $140,000
This grant will allow 20 suburban communities in South Cook County and six in West Cook to hire one housing coordinator for each cluster. Each housing coordinator will provide the towns with expert technical assistance to maximize and share their limited resources in the areas of vacant properties redevelopment and borrower outreach. Using last year’s grant from the Trust,these hardest hit areas of suburban Cook applied jointly for federal funding, receiving $12 million in to address the housing crisis.

Woodstock Institute - $135, 000
The Woodstock Institute launched the Regional HOPI website (http://www.regionalhopi.org) to keep organizations addressing the crisis engaged and informed about each other’s work and regional trends The web site receives 600 + visits monthly. Woodstock also produces quarterly foreclosure reports by community area and suburb and provides technical assistance to nonprofits on how to use data for community planning and intervention.

Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Chicago - $125,000
NHS of Chicago convenes RHOPI leaders every month, organizes RHOPI plenary sessions engaging 150+ experts, and continues to track the development of federal foreclosure prevention programs and advancing policy recommendations and innovations to improve the impact of federal, state and local programs in our region’s communities.

About The Chicago Community Trust
For 95 years, The Chicago Community Trust, our region’s community foundation, has connected the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to organizations working to improve metropolitan Chicago. In 2009, the Trust, together with its donors, granted more than $100 million to nonprofit organizations. From strengthening schools to assisting local art programs, from building health centers to helping lives affected by violence, the Trust continues to enhance our region. To learn more, please visit the Trust online at http://www.cct.org.

Eva Penar
312.616.8000 x 161


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