If Chicago is going to move forward as a city, it’s going to have to happen from within. These seven organizations are changing entire communities in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges (and without much support). Discover how you can get involved with them to make tangible positive change happen.
With the Syrian refugee crisis leaving more than 6 million people internally displaced and another 10 million seeking refugee status, immigrants and refugees who come to Chicago need a good deal of support and help. The Syrian Community Network aims to do just that by easing the transition for families who have had their entire lives stripped away from them.
Other organizations ranked by Chicago Ideas
The Dovetail Project: According to the Dovetail Project, 67 percent of black children in the United States grow up in single-parent homes, and 85 percent of all youths in prison come from single-parent homes. The organization’s founder, Sheldon Smith, is aiming to put an end to that cycle by giving young Chicago fathers age 17 to 24 the education, support and skills that they need to be great fathers. From employment assistance to GED tutoring to life coaching, the organization is going a long way in helping break cycles of broken families across the city.
Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN): IMAN takes the Muslim tradition of facilitating transformational change in urban communities and applies it to some of Chicago’s most vulnerable areas. The organization’s current operations include a health center, transitional housing and job training for incarcerated men and local community arts programs.
Muslim Women Resource Center: Immigrating to the United States is no easy task, and doing so as a Muslim can be incredibly daunting, especially during a time when xenophobia and racism are influencing the country’s political dialogue in a big way. The Muslim Women Resource Center’s goal is to assist immigrant and refugee Muslim women with their transition to the United States. From providing language classes to teaching occupational skills, the group has helped make Muslims from around the world feel safe, welcome and ready to succeed.
Young Chicago Authors: You might be familiar with YCA from its youth poetry festival, Louder than a Bomb. The organization’s goal is to empower young Chicagoans and give them the tools to let their voice be heard through spoken word poetry, fiction, playwriting and other means of expression. YCA directly serves 10,000 teens every year, which is certainly no drop in the bucket.
Howard Brown Health: Howard Brown Health is one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ organizations. With five locations around the city, it serves more than 27,000 adults and youth annually, providing free or affordable access to health resources including HIV/STI testing and prevention, primary medical care, behavior health and more. The organization is also behind the Brown Elephant resale shops—so if you’re looking for a good deal on some furniture, head to one of those locations and support an organization that’s directly helping your LGBTQ+ neighbors.
City Bureau: If you’re looking to support quality local journalism, you should get behind City Bureau. The organization provides stipends to journalists to mentor one another and engage in hard-hitting, investigative journalism on Chicago’s South and West Sides. City Bureau has looked into topics like community policing, 911 services in the city and the lack of mental health resources in Chicago’s most violence-stricken neighborhoods.
Source: Chicago Ideas