As the pain of the pandemic continues to impact communities nationwide, early on the Ellie Fund at the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (JWF) acted quickly to focus its attention on the unprecedented emergency needs being shouldered by women and girls here at home. Targeting the Chicago communities most under threat, the Ellie Fund identified six leading organizations, primarily led by women of color, that responded with great speed and creativity to mobilize new resources and deliver essential services to meet the escalating needs of girls, women, and families in crisis. Forging new and strengthening existing partnerships, the Ellie Fund provided each organization a $10,000 emergency grant to help them deliver relief in the communities they serve.
Ellen H. Block is a founding lifetime trustee of JWF. As JWF's first "Women Moving Millions" member, in 2013, Block established the Ellie Fund with the mission to support innovative and pilot projects that promote safety, security, equal rights, equal voice, and equal opportunities for girls and women. Together with a committee of four JWF trustees and two advisors, the Ellie Fund works to address long term inequities, ultimately paving a better path forward for all women and girls, those in our community and beyond.
"We knew that something had to be done now to rush needed funds to the communities hurting most. We also know that women-led organizations receive significantly less funding than others," Block said. "So, we identified six incredible organizations, run by smart, fierce, passionate, and compassionate women. Their leadership, their capacity to listen, respond, adapt, innovate, and deliver critical need, is inspiring. They are true gifts to our greater Chicago community."
The Ellie Fund at JWF is proud of its first cohort of six Chicago women leaders who are building, empowering, and strengthening communities:
Bright Star Community Outreach/The Urban Resilience Network Center: A $10,000 grant in recognition of CJ Jones, Chief Program Officer
Bright Star Community Outreach empowers residents to share in the responsibility of building Chicago's south side community through programming in violence prevention, community engagement, economic development, education, and healthy living. The TURN Center, the organization's major initiative, is based on a trauma-informed model used by NATAL in Israel.
I Grow Chicago: A $10,000 grant in recognition of Robbin Carroll, Founder and Board Co-Chair
I Grow Chicago seeks to grow Englewood from surviving to thriving by addressing the traumatic effects of violence and poverty through community connection, skill building, and opportunity. I Grow Chicago acquires abandoned homes and lots and, with the help of neighbors, transforms them into community spaces that are then used for programs that serve community members.
Ladies of Virtue: a $10,000 grant in recognition of Jamila Trimuel, Founder and CEO
Ladies of Virtue instills purpose, passion, and perseverance in girls, ages 9 to 18, while preparing them for college, careers, and to become change agents in their communities. The mentoring and leadership program provides culturally relevant programming that exposes participants to prominent women who share similar backgrounds to the participants.
Mothers Against Senseless Killings: a $10,000 grant in recognition of Tamar Manasseh, Founder
MASK is a collaboration of community stakeholders working together in the fight to end gun and gang violence in Chicago's affected neighborhoods. MASK seeks to build stronger communities by focusing on violence prevention, food insecurity, housing, and access to critical services.
Mujeres Latinas en Acción: a $10,000 grant in recognition of Linda Xóchitl Tortolero, President/CEO
Mujeres is a bilingual/bicultural agency seeking to empower Latinas, their families, and youth to become self-reliant, take full advantage of available opportunities, and create new opportunities to improve the quality of their lives. Mujeres promotes non-violence, reproductive health, and leadership development.
The Network: a $10,000 grant in recognition of Amanda Pyron, Executive Director
The Network is dedicated to improving the lives of those impacted by domestic violence through education, public policy, and advocacy, and connecting community members to direct service providers. The Network is a collaborative membership organization of 40 diverse social service and domestic violence agencies, including SHALVA, which is supported by JUF.
The Jewish Women's Foundation is an independent project of the Jewish United Fund of Chicago.