The giving circle movement has been growing fast in recent years, especially when it comes to women and people of color. In major cities across the U.S., we’ve been seeing growth and increasing interest in giving circles that focus on racial and gender equity. A great example of this is happening in Chicago, where the Chicago Foundation for Women launched its South Side Giving Circle in the spring of 2018.
This newly formed giving circle is primarily composed of women in Chicago’s South Side and the south suburbs who are interested in investing in the economic, social and political empowerment of black women and girls in the city. They define themselves as a “fierce group of women paving a path of investment into women-of-color-led community initiatives.”
With over 30 members so far and less than a year of operations under its belt, the South Side Giving Circle (SSGC) recently announced its very first round of grants, totaling approximately $33,000 across five grantees.
The largest grant from SSGC’s first round of giving went to a mentoring program called Polished Pebbles, which teaches African American girls to resolve conflicts in nonviolent ways and to use effective communication skills. There’s a high school program here that also exposes participants to potential career paths and creates a community space for them and their families and the larger community. Other new SSGC grantees include an after-school political education program for young black girls and teens called Assata’s Daughters, a digital storytelling endeavor called the Girls Like Me Project, Sisters Network Chicago Chapter’s efforts to reduce breast cancer mortality for local black women, and Violets in Bloom’s after-school programming for middle school girls in Bronzeville. All of SSGC’s new grants are between $3,000 and $10,000 each.
So far, the bulk of SSGC’s attention has been hyperlocal and directed at youth in the middle school and high school grades. There’s a strong push among these women for mentoring, collaborative efforts, and taking lessons learned from small programs to create citywide campaigns. The women involved in this giving circle have also expressed interest in highlighting small organizations and attracting millennials to become members. Membership requires a $1,000 annual contribution or a $500 annual contribution with an ask to raise the additional $500 for young professionals. New members will be welcome to join in early 2019.
“We come from all walks of life, so some of us work in the nonprofit industry, some of us are in higher education, etc., but the value that we all share is that we are passionate about the success of black women and girls and helping them reach their full potential,” said Nicole Robinson, one of seven founders of SSGC, in a press release.
SSGC addresses the needs and inequalities of black girls and women that fall within the core issue areas of the Chicago Foundation for Women: economic security, freedom from violence, and access to healthcare and information. It supports advocacy efforts and direct services, and is actually one of three giving circles housed at the Chicago Foundation for Women. The other two are the North Shore Giving Circle and the Western Suburbs Giving Circle.
As Inside Philanthropy has noted, the giving circle movement has been successfully attracting an important and sizable segment of the American public: people who aren’t rich. But they still have ideas, energy and a willingness to put some of their available dollars toward the betterment of communities they live in and care about.