Midwest Networks

Midwest Networks

Grantees participate in numerous networks to advance progressive policy in Chicago and in the rest of the state. Many of these networks are issue- or campaign-based. The Chicago Equal Voice Network (CEVN) has served as a space for Chicago-based grantees to build collective power across issues in a coordinated, strategic manner. Recent efforts have demonstrated the collective unity and power of the Chicago Equal Voice Network and its relationship to the foundation’s overall movement building strategy, while highlighting the unique challenges and successes of working on multi-issue, ethnic campaigns in Chicago.

Capitalizing on the election year, CEVN decided to participate in a collective civic engagement effort, Every Vote Counts, beginning the summer of 2014. The foundation provided additional funding[1] so that CEVN could engage new voters in a multi-step process that seeks to transform the one-time act of registering to vote into involvement in a long-term family-led movement for change. This was a critical opportunity to bring thousands of newly engaged family members into a sustained movement for real change in Chicago. Special funding expanded the Every Vote Counts effort to all Midwest grantees, and more than 100,000 new voters were registered in the fall. This was the first network-wide campaign for CEVN and allowed the network to flex its collective muscle to build power, develop leaders and conduct education about issues on the Equal Voice national family platform. More than ever, CEVN, under the coordination of a network weaver, has the capacity to lead and inform progressive change.

Foundation grantees are very active in the Chicago Equal Voice Network and participate as well in multiple issue-specific coalitions and networks in the state and nation. For example, VOYCE (Voices of Youth in Chicago Education) is a youth organizing collaborative for education justice led by students of color from several community organizations, mostly grantees: Communities United (formerly Albany Park Neighborhood Council), Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, and Southwest Organizing Project.


[1] $100,000 awarded to State Voices, which is serving as fiscal sponsor.