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Trust Talks

Author: The Chicago Community Trust

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Trust Talks is the podcast by The Chicago Community Trust. Each episode of Trust Talks highlights a different strand of the Trust’s strategic priority to close the Chicago region's racial and ethnic wealth gap, including growing household wealth, catalyzing neighborhood investment, and building collective power, or its foundational commitments to addressing critical needs and connecting philanthropy to impact.
12 Episodes
The federal government has allocated trillions in federal funds toward relief and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Rescue Plan Act’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund alone has made about $19 billion dollars available to the City of Chicago, Cook County, and the State of Illinois for the purpose of economic recovery. These funds present a unique opportunity for the city, county, and state to invest in an equitable and inclusive recovery, especially for Black and Latinx communities that have experienced historic disinvestment and felt the greatest economic burden from the pandemic. Community-based organizations that are working on issues such as housing, workforce development, and community safety play a critical role in ensuring federal funds reach communities that need them the most. However, from challenges related to staffing and capacity to administrative burdens, many nonprofits struggle to access and leverage these funds.  In this episode of Trust Talks, we will explore the barriers nonprofits face in accessing government funds, as well as opportunities to overcome them. This episode is hosted by Aimee Ramirez, manager of policy and advocacy at the Trust, and features Lisa May Simpson, chief program officer at Forefront; Johnny Page, executive director at ConTextos; and Matt Cole, director of public funding and partnerships at The Resurrection Project. Production by Juneteenth Productions. The podcast was recorded at the Sound Foundation. In partnership with Urban Institute, the Trust launched a Federal Recovery Funds Dashboard in October 2022 to track how the city, county, and state are spending these unprecedented funds. Learn more by visiting 
For more than a century, individuals and families have partnered with The Chicago Community Trust to transform gifts—from wills, trusts, and other vehicles—into lasting impact for our region. Through unrestricted gifts to our endowment, donors ensure that the Trust has the flexibility to respond to the region’s evolving and urgent needs. These bequests have allowed us to support our neighbors through the Great Depression, the Great Recession, the COVID-19 pandemic, and to tackle the region’s racial and ethnic wealth gap. In this episode of Trust Talks, we will explore how the Trust's endowment and bequests made decades ago continue to address the most pressing issues affecting our region, including our strategic focus to close the wealth gap.  This episode is hosted by Tim Bresnahan, senior director of gift planning, and features Joanne Otte, program manager for the Trust’s Addressing Critical Needs team; Cherita Ellens, president and CEO of Women Employed; and Anne Ladky, Trust Executive Committee member and donor. Production by Juneteenth Productions. The podcast was recorded at Creative DeCysions.
There is a long-held notion civic engagement is declining in the Chicago region. The 2010 Chicago Civic Health Index report even stated “Chicagoland’s civic health is on life support.” However, research measuring civic health tends to be rooted in a framework that focuses on voting and giving one’s time, labor, and money to formal organizations. That is only one part of the civic engagement picture. Under the Trust's Building Collective Power strategy, The Chicago Community Trust commissioned the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois Chicago to dig deeper into the current civic engagement landscape in Chicago. The report, Changing the Frame: Civic Engagement Through a Racial Equity Lens, provides a broader analysis of civic life that includes a range of activities practiced by Black, Latinx, and working-class people in Chicago. In this episode, we will explore findings from the report, and the role government institutions, media, and philanthropy can play in strengthening our region’s civic ecosystem.  This episode is hosted by Maritza Bandera, program manager for the Trust's Building Collective Power team, and features Iván Arenas, associate director for community partnerships, Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, The University of Illinois at Chicago; Brett Chase, reporter – environmental, planning, and public health, the Chicago Sun-Times ; and Sadia Sindhu, executive director, Center for Effective Government, The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.Production by Juneteenth Productions. The podcast was recorded at Creative DeCysions.
The Trust’s Catalyzing Neighborhood Investment strategy is focused on closing the region’s racial and ethnic wealth gap at the neighborhood level by fostering an environment that leads to more inclusive development in historically disinvested Black and Latinx communities. Last year—in partnership with Community Desk Chicago—the Trust conducted a study of philanthropy's role in supporting community ownership models for neighborhood development. We were particularly interested in learning how we could support community wealth building through the ability of residents to share ownership in commercial real estate. Not only do these models provide an alternative to raising capital that looks very different from traditional approaches, but pooling community capital also allows residents to acquire and control key assets in their own neighborhoods. More than 20 such developments exist or are being created nationwide. From a reclaimed business corridor in Philadelphia, to a retail mall in Portland, each project is uniquely tailored to community needs and goals. In Chicago, we've taken to calling these Community Investment Vehicles—or CIVs—for community owned commercial real estate in neighborhoods. The Trust has already committed $600,000 to this work, with the expectation that we will do more grant making in the future. In this episode of Trust Talks, you'll learn what CIVs are and the community wealth building opportunities they could create in the region.  This episode is hosted by Chris Eagan, Program Manager for the Trust's Catalyzing Neighborhood Investment team, and features Nneka Onwuzurike, Chicago Recovery Plan Program Manager, the City of Chicago - Mayor's Office; Max Levine, CEO and Co-Founder of Nico; and Tonya Trice, Executive Director, South Shore Chamber of Commerce. Production by Juneteenth Productions. This episode was recorded at Creative DeCysions.
The Trust’s Growing Household Wealth Income Strategy supports closing the racial wealth gap in Chicago through a commitment to innovations in workforce development, inclusive business practices, and education. Along with reducing the debt burden of students and households in educational attainment, we prioritize implementing solutions that increase the income stability and wage growth of all Chicagoans. Workers of color make up 47 percent of the Chicagoland workforce ages 25 – 64, and 59 percent of the next-generation workforce, but Black and Latinx workers are more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to earn wages under $15/hour. Wages aren’t the only part of the story.As we approach the 10th anniversary of the inception of the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance, in this episode we examine how efforts such as CWFA are working to make the Chicago workforce ecosystem more equitable. We’ll also hear from other leaders in the ecosystem on where we are and where we can go.  This episode is hosted by Caleb Herod, program manager for the Trust's Growing Household Wealth team, and features Bela Moté, president and CEO of the Carole Robertson Center for Learning; Manny Rodriguez, co-founder and executive director of Revolution Workshop; Matt Bruce, executive director of the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance; and Patrick Combs, co-CEO of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership. Production by Juneteenth Productions. Part 1 was recorded at Creative DeCysions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has uncovered the disparities created by segregation and systemic racism.  We are witnessing a taxed public health infrastructure that has been woefully underinvested in over generations. Currently, 75 percent of Chicagoans are fully vaccinated. However, the disaggregated data indicates stark disparities across race and ethnicity, with 63 percent of Latinx and 52 percent of Black Chicagoans fully vaccinated. Similarly, COVID-related hospitalizations and severe consequences, including death, disproportionately impact Black and Latinx communities. This trend extends to the county, state, and nation. The Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership is working to close the gap in vaccine rates across geographies and populations--and address the root causes of health inequity. 
The Trust’s Philanthropic Services team works with many types of donors, including individuals with Donor Advised Funds, family foundations, corporations, and those interested in giving to specific causes. The Trust advises donors on every aspect of their giving strategy. Its philanthropic advisors also leverage the Trust’s expertise and community connections to identify organizations that will make the biggest difference, ensuring donors are effectively fulfilling their philanthropic goals.Production by Juneteenth Productions. 
The “Voice” strand of The Chicago Community Trust's Building Collective Power strategy supports community-centered media platforms that allow the authentic narratives of communities to emerge and be amplified not just in neighborhoods but across the city. Those community-centered platforms likewise bring vital information into communities to inform their agenda-setting. In three segments, this episode of Trust Talks will explore the different ways the Trust is strengthening local media and storytelling platforms to amplify community narratives. It features Daniel Ash, associate vice president at the Trust, who leads the Building Collective Power strategy; Lolly Bowen, journalist, who oversees the Field Foundation of Illinois' media and storytelling grant making; Morgan Johnson, co-creator of The Triibe, a digital media platform for Black Chicago, and Jesus Del Toro, general manager of La Raza, the region's leading Spanish-language newspaper; and Tonika Lewis Johnson, a social justice artist and creator of the Folded Map Project.Production by Juneteenth Productions. 
In this episode of Trust Talks, Michael Davidson, senior director of community impact who’s leading the Trust’s Catalyzing Neighborhood Investment team, sits down with Lennox Jackson, founder and CEO of Urban Equities Inc, Ja’Net DeFell, program manager of Community Desk Chicago; and Juan Saldana principal at P3 markets, to discuss the role real estate development plays in our communities.
In this episode of Trust Talks, guests Constance Simms-Kincaid, owner and operator of 5 Loaves Eatery, Eya Louis, contract development coordinator at Elevate Energy, and Mambu Sherman, vice president of global philanthropy at JP-Morgan Chase, sit down with the Trust’s Shandra Richardson, a program manager on the Growing Household Wealth team, to discuss how the Fund for Equitable Business Growth is supporting the small business ecosystem in Chicago. 
In the first episode of Trust Talks, Charlotte Spaeth sits down with Anna LauBach, program director at the McCormick Foundation, Deborah Bennett, senior program officer at Polk Bros Foundation, and Anna Lee, director of community impact at The Chicago Community Trust for a discussion on the role grassroots organizations have in violence prevention in Chicago’s neighborhoods.



Helene Gayle, President and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, is excited to announce the launch of Trust Talks. 
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