Helping Hands in the City of Big Shoulders
In 2022, the Venable Foundation expanded its grant funding to the Chicago market, giving $80,000 to 11 organizations at the end of the year. The Foundation provided support to assist with general operations and specific projects for organizations working across a range of the Foundation's funding priority areas. In honor of Pride Month, we're spotlighting one of these first-time grantees that is securing the health and well-being of Chicago's LGBTQ+ community.
Spotlight: Center on Halsted
In 2022, the Venable Foundation provided $5,000 in general operating support to Center on Halsted, which is focused on improving the health and quality of life of the LGBTQ+ people of greater Chicagoland.
"We feel super fortunate to have been selected as one of the first grantees in Chicago," said interim co-CEO and chief development officer Brad Snyder. "We're incredibly grateful to be able to not only have the funding, but to have the flexibility of general operating support to respond to the most pressing needs of our community."
Center on Halsted (COH) has roots in Chicago that stretch back to the early 1970s and is now the Midwest's largest center dedicated to serving the LGBTQ+ community. Today, COH offers a wide range of services, including HIV testing and prevention, behavioral health programming, and anti-violence support. The center is also a community hub for arts and cultural programming, community organizing, and social engagement.
The organization's recent priority areas include the opening of a new center on the city's South Side to better serve the LGBTQ+ community, expanded youth and family programming, and a greater array of behavioral health services.
In addition to serving people who are unstably housed or unhoused individuals, COH makes housing available to 8 LGBTQ+ youth and young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. This youth housing program has especially served trans-identified young people and young adults who have been estranged from or rejected by their families.
"Funding from Venable and others who support our work is helping us meet what looks likely to be an increasing need over the coming years," Brad said. "People come to us to find a place where they can be affirmed for who they are. It's a unique space for LGBTQ+-identified people to feel like they have a home."
Other Venable Foundation grantees from the Chicago area include:
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless champions affordable housing and protects access to schools, healthcare, public benefits, and human services for those impacted by homelessness. Venable Foundation funding has supported the organization's Law Project, which offers comprehensive legal aid services to individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Chicago House and Social Service Agency empowers persons living with or vulnerable to HIV/AIDS to lead healthy and dignified lives through housing, education, and other resources. The Venable Foundation has granted general operating support to help Chicago House continue delivering compassionate, client-centered support services.
Chicago Children's Advocacy Center works to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of abused children. General operating support from the Venable Foundation has helped the organization sustain trauma-informed programs, including advocacy and investigative services, mental health resources, and education, prevention, and policy work in support of youth.
PeacePlayers Chicago unites divided communities by offering sports and leadership development to youth on the South Side. Funding from the Venable Foundation has helped PeacePlayers continue providing access to basketball and a peace education curriculum that helps young people build the skills necessary to mitigate conflict and grow as ambassadors for peace in their communities.