Live Healthy Chicago is excited to announce that it has selected 28 organizations across Chicago as recipients of its community-based grants initiative, awarding a total of $1 million to serve those in need. The funding, supported by a $5 million donation from the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation, will help support projects addressing COVID-19 through education, prevention and support services. A full list of grant recipients can be found at https://www.livehealthychi.com/.
Each of the award winners has worked diligently throughout the pandemic to support communities in need. These grants will help expand their efforts and obtain the necessary resources to continue their fight against the impacts of COVID-19.
“The intensity and impact of this global pandemic has mobilized people and organizations on every block in Chicago,” said Ayesha Jaco, executive director of West Side United, an organization committed to improving the health and economic wellness of the West Side of Chicago. “But this crisis calls for an urgent, forceful and unified effort like never before.”
Here are just a few examples of some of the incredible projects the recipients are working on:
Inspiration Corp. is a leader in providing housing, food and job training services to low-income individuals and the unsheltered throughout Chicago. Two of its major meal-providing initiatives, Inspiration Café and Inspiration Kitchens, were forced to transition to meals-to-go during the pandemic.
Located in Uptown, Inspiration Café is a full-service cafe that exclusively serves people experiencing homelessness. Individuals receive a full restaurant experience in an atmosphere of dignity and respect. Inspiration Kitchens is a public restaurant in East Garfield Park that employs low-income individuals and provides them with culinary training and experience through its Foodservice Training Program.
Both establishments have adapted to continue distributing meals throughout the past nine months. Inspiration Café now makes two meals a day available for pickup while Inspiration Kitchens produces meals that are donated to shelters and housing providers to be given to folks in need.
“With this grant award, Inspiration Kitchens will be able to produce over 25,000 additional meals for people in need, and we will continue to support up to 24 participants through transitional jobs,” said Shannon Stewart, CEO and executive director of Inspiration Corp.
House of Huggzz Loving Home Day Care
House of Huggzz Loving Home Day Care, a day care center for North Lawndale families on the West Side, was forced to close its doors from March until July. Its reopening in July meant that some families could return to work knowing their children were safe and looked after. Yet many families who lost their jobs could not afford the co-pay required for the day care.
Monica Pierce runs House of Huggzz and has worked with many of these families for years. She understood the hardship they face and chose not to charge these families the required co-pay so they could use that money toward other necessities or bills.
Pierce plans to use the grant to continue to provide quality care to the children at the day care center. It is becoming difficult for the older and younger children at the center to play safely in the confined space of her current backyard. Her goal is to convert a lot that she purchased next door into part play area for older children and part community garden where she will grow and distribute fresh produce to the community for free.
Ladies of Virtue
Ladies of Virtue runs mentoring and leadership programs for girls from ages 9 to 18 years old based around character-building, career preparation and civic engagement. The organization decided to send out a survey to better assess the needs of its community at the start of the pandemic. The survey revealed that many families were struggling financially due to COVID-19.
Ladies of Virtue sprang into action to deliver much needed resources such as groceries, personal protective equipment kits, mental health services and even partnered with community organizations to give stipends to some families. The funds it was awarded will be used to expand its work to ensure youth and their families across the city receive these essential resources.
“”I am so grateful that Ladies of Virtue is a recipient of the Live Healthy Chicago Community Grant,” said Jamila Trimuel, founder and CEO of Ladies of Virtue. “I look forward to serving on the front lines to ensure that those who are living in communities disproportionately affected by violence and high COVID-19 cases are provided with the support that they need.”
These organizations and the opportunities that these grants will create for their communities underscore the powerful impact of Live Healthy Chicago and its commitment to dismantling systemic and racial health inequities happening in Chicago’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.
“The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation’s investment in Live Healthy Chicago accelerates our work to not just fight this virus, but also to address the underlying reasons why it is taking so many Black and brown lives,” Jaco said.
Live Healthy Chicago will soon release another round of funding dedicated to supporting COVID-positive individuals and contact tracing efforts, specifically in Latinx communities, which have the highest positivity rate of any racial and ethnic group. Live Healthy Chicago will work with the Chicago Department of Public Health and community-based organizations to slow the spread of the virus while ensuring that COVID-positive individuals have the resources they need to remain safe and get healthy.
About Live Healthy Chicago
Live Healthy Chicago is a community-based collaborative between West Side United, Rush University Medical Center, the MAAFA Redemption Project, My Block My Hood My City and Forty Acres Fresh Market that implements initiatives to improve the wellness of seniors and high-risk populations experiencing COVID-19 health disparities and food insecurity. With the support of the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation, Live Healthy Chicago can continue to serve and uplift communities across Chicago.