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Message From The Executive Director, August 2023

Dear Grantee partners, Foundation colleagues and Friends of The Albert Pick, Jr. Fund,


Summer in Chicago is like no other! It’s one of our city’s best kept secrets and visitors are always amazed when they learn about and experience all there is to do and enjoy – much of it offered for free and accessible to everyone! However, we also know that summertime in Chicago, like in other cities across the country, often comes with increased gun violence, senseless deaths and concerns for public safety. Joy and sorrow represent a complex duality that, unfortunately, too many of us have learned to live with, and one that philanthropy, by definition, is well-positioned to address.


It is why this year’s theme for Black Philanthropy Month – Love in Action – resonates with my heart and soul. It reflects the true broader definition of philanthropy: love for humankind. You don’t have to be financially wealthy to be a philanthropist. You just have to embody love for and service to humanity. While we can point to countless examples within ethnic, cultural and faith communities that practice philanthropy daily, within our nonprofit and foundation community I have seen Love in Action on full display through: 

  • The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, which provides rapid-response grants to community organizations that offer activities in the summer and early fall to foster neighborhood safety and community building. Many of these organizations were already doing the work for years and for free in the true spirit of philanthropy, and since 2016 the Fund – which represents over 50 foundations and private funders - helps to compensate them for their tireless efforts.

  • The 160+ funders and philanthropic organizations from around the country that signed onto a solidarity statement in early July strongly condemning the US Supreme Court’s decision to ban race-based affirmative action in higher education admissions policies. The implications for our social justice work in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector cannot be underestimated. However, the SCOTUS decision has actually strengthened the resolve and commitment of philanthropists along with countless social justice warriors who are engaged in and supporting long-term work. The Pick Fund’s commitment to centering racial equity and social justice in its philanthropy stands firm.

  • The resiliency and responsiveness of stakeholders at the State, County, City and neighborhood levels that are working on both / and solutions to address the housing and social service needs of migrants / new arrivals as well as unhoused indigenous residents, who are predominantly Black, from under resourced communities in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Some of these key stakeholders presented at two funder briefings held during July and August about the racial solidarity work they have been engaged in. The Home Away from Home Center started by Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Woodlawn, and the Excellerator Fund started by Latinos Progresando (a Pick Fund grantee) and the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation are just two of several examples lifted up during these briefings that spoke to the racial solidarity work in our city that is deserving of much greater attention and support.

  • #Give828, an annual initiative launched six years ago by the Young, Black and Giving Back Institute (YBGB) to promote support for Black-led and Black-benefitting grassroots organizations nationally, and serve as a culminating effort for Black Philanthropy Month. Its name pays tribute to the transformational moments in history that occurred on August 28: in 1945, it was the day that Jackie Robinson agreed to serve as the catalyst for integration of American Baseball; in 1955, it was the tragic day that 14-year old Chicagoan Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi; in 1963, it was the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom; in 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the predominantly Black city of New Orleans; and in 2008, it was the day that Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States. I encourage everyone to give if you can during the final hours of the campaign, but if you don’t see this newsletter until later, a donation anytime this week or beyond will always be welcomed by these organizations. If you need suggestions for who to support, I encourage you to learn more about the Chicago Racial Justice Pooled Fund, which provides support for Black-led organizing groups and ally-led groups that are working to address anti-Blackness in their communities. The Pick Fund has been a proud supporter of this effort from its inception.


Again, anyone and everyone has the capacity to be a philanthropist – what can you do to model Love in Action in your life?


Finally, before the summer officially ends, we wanted to reach out and provide some important updates with respect to our grantmaking. We are in the midst of reviewing applications submitted in the Culture and Education focus areas as we prepare for our Fall board meeting in September. We sincerely appreciate the work of the 150 organizations who submitted Letters of Inquiry (LOI), resulting in far more requests than the Pick Fund is capable of supporting. We are truly grateful for your steadfast efforts to improve the quality of life for all Chicagoans and look forward to staying abreast of your progress.

Warmly and In Solidarity,

Heather D. Parish

Executive Director, The Albert Pick, Jr. Fund

2023 Grantmaking Update

For the first time, The Albert Pick, Jr. Fund has utilized a Letter of Inquiry process in order to quickly assess whether there is a match between the foundation and potential grantees, alleviating some of the burden of submitting an entire application. In an effort to streamline applications, simplify processes and hopefully create less burden on grantee applicants, we launched the LOI submission process in May. We were overwhelmed by the response and number of applicants (150!). It was an honor to review the Letters of Inquiry, all submitted by worthy organizations doing critical work in and for the communities of Chicago. Ultimately, the Fund’s Board of Directors had to make some difficult decisions in order to narrow the pool down to 59 organizations who have been asked to submit applications. The 2023 awards will prioritize existing Albert Pick, Jr. Fund grantees, though we hope to make room for new grantees in the near future.

Award decisions will be made at the Fall Board Meeting for Arts and Education grants and at the Winter Board Meeting for Civic Activism and Health and Human Services grants.

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