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Advancing Equity and Social Justice in Evanston

From Our Neighborhood News, Fall 2020

In July, Northwestern and Evanston announced that the University will contribute $1 million to the city for a sixth consecutive year, as well as create a $500,000 grant program aimed at advancing racial equity and social justice. 

In unveiling what this year will be called the Good Neighbor Racial Equity Fund, mayor Stephen Hagerty and University president Morton Schapiro noted that the annual $1 million gift will be invested in programs that dismantle systemic barriers faced by historically marginalized communities.

Northwestern is also creating a $500,000 Racial Equity and Community Partnership Grant. In the innovative pilot program, to be administered by the Office of Neighborhood and Community Relations, grants will be awarded to partnerships between community-based groups and Northwestern faculty, students, and staff. 

"As Northwestern's Evanston and Chicago homes grapple with two historic challenges-COVID-19 and systemic racism-the University is in a position to help lead the way in finding a solution, and it has a duty to do so," Schapiro says. "As part of our efforts to strengthen our communities, we are increasing our commitments in Evanston and Chicago."

In June, Schapiro pledged to allocate resources in the coming year to advance social justice and racial equity in Evanston and Chicago. This plan shifts the focus of Northwestern's Good Neighbor Fund, which for the past five years has supported Evanston programs, positions, and infrastructure projects. Like those for the Good Neighbor Fund, priorities for the racial equity grant will be agreed upon jointly by the Evanston mayor and Northwestern president. 

"Advancing racial equity and eliminating the social and economic disparities that have been present in our city for decades require a community-wide commitment," Hagerty says. "the Good Neighbor Racial Equity Fund will allow Evanston to build on our efforts to eradicate systemic racism, remove barriers for marginalized communities, and further invest in programs that uplift our entire city. I want to thank Northwestern for partnering with us in this critical work." 

Dave Davis, executive director of neighborhood and community relations, says this year's Racial Equity Fund contribution will go toward helping Evanston improve outcomes for people of color in four priority areas: economic opportunity; justice and government; neighborhoods and infrastructure; and public health. 

"At this historic moment, as Americans across the country fight to ensure that Black Lives Matter, these priority areas are focused around measurable community indicators and a racial-equity-driven policy process that centers the experiences and voices of those who are most affected," David says. 

The new Racial Equity and Community Partnership Grant program will fund collaborations between Northwestern community members and groups. These partnerships will pilot ideas and programs that could advance research-based knowledge, address local issues, and be leveraged for broader impact by securing additional foundation and government support. 

The grant will also help add new initiatives to a number of University and community partnerships that are already assisting Evanston schoolchildren and small businesses-projects that exemplify the deep commitments that advance Northwestern's mission while also moving the needle on critical community issues. 

A grant website will be launched in November, when officials will announce funding priorities and make applications available. Applications will be due in January. 

TO LEARN MORE about the grant program and who should apply, visit northwestern.edu/communityrelations.