Chicago Foundations Create Fund to Support Innovation and Collaboration to Address Domestic Violence
May 02 2018

FIRST Fund will support innovative and community-based solutions to address domestic violence

Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW), in partnership with Crown Family Philanthropies, the Michael Reese Health Trust, Polk Bros. Foundation and other local foundations announced today the Family and Interpersonal Resilience and Safety Transformation Fund to support innovative and collaborative solutions to domestic and intimate partner violence. The Family and Interpersonal Resilience and Safety Transformation (FIRST) Fund is a collaborative effort to increase funding available for strategic planning for new and promising initiatives.

“Existing pressures make it difficult for leaders to think beyond the day-to-day responsibilities of service delivery,” CFW President/CEO K. Sujata said. “The Family and Interpersonal Resilience and Safety Transformation Fund will provide resources so organizations can devote serious time and energy to planning for new, collaborative approaches to ending violence in our families and communities.”

“This Fund is about empowering leaders of Chicago’s domestic violence services community to connect with experts and others across sectors to identify new ways to solve entrenched challenges,” Polk Bros. Foundation Senior Program Officer Frank Baiocchi said. “We hope this sparks an opportunity for these leaders to plan first – launch conversations with potential partners, build upon innovative ideas, or work out details of a pilot – and then, ideally, act soon.”

“As a long time funder of domestic violence services, the Michael Reese Health Trust is proud to be a part of an effort to seed innovative approaches to address the myriad of challenges faced by survivors and the organizations that serve them,” Michael Reese Health Trust Senior Program Officer Jennifer Rosenkranz said. “The FIRST Fund strategically aligns with the Michael Reese Health Trust’s domestic violence funding priorities of supporting cross-sector collaborations and long term counseling supports.”

Challenges, as identified in the Social IMPACT Research Center’s 2017 report “Connecting to Safety and Stability: Domestic Violence Needs Assessment of Chicago,” include a lack of targeted services on the city’s south and west sides; insufficient services to meet demand, resulting in survivors being turned away; limited access to counseling, legal, financial and housing services; and the need for cross-sector collaboration. FIRST Fund grants will support the rigorous planning required to address these challenges.

“The Social IMPACT Research Center’s DV Needs Assessment unearthed some urgent challenges the sector needs to address,” Crown Family Philanthropies Health and Human Services Program Officer Christy Prahl said. “The FIRST Fund gives us a pathway toward innovative solutions.”

The FIRST Fund currently has $125,000 in funding commitments, and will award grants from $5,000 to $25,000. Planning for collaborative, community-centered and intersectional approaches are especially encouraged. Funding is open to organizations that work with populations impacted by domestic violence, even if domestic violence is not the primary area of focus.

This critical investment comes in addition to Chicago Foundation for Women’s current grantmaking to support direct services and advocacy for survivors of domestic violence. CFW continues to build grantmaking strategies around collaborations across movements and issue areas to address the full scope and impact of domestic violence on families and communities.

Eligible nonprofit organizations should submit a Letter of Inquiry by June 20, 2018. An information session for interested organizations will take place at Chicago Foundation for Women, Friday, May 11 from 2 – 3:30 p.m.  Grants will be announced in October 2018. Additional information can be found at


About Chicago Foundation for Women
Chicago Foundation for Women invests in women and girls as catalysts, building strong communities for all. CFW funds organizations working to solve the biggest problems facing women and girls: economic insecurity, violence, and access to health care and information. In addition to grantmaking, CFW invests in developing women leaders and advocates, and brings together diverse coalitions to collaborate, share resources and develop solutions. To learn more, visit

About Crown Family Philanthropies
In our Chicago neighborhoods and around the world, Crown Family Philanthropies is dedicated to positive social change. Our work in Health and Human Services aims to provide pathways to stability for the city’s most vulnerable residents.

About The Michael Reese Health Trust
The Michael Reese Health Trust exists to improve the health of vulnerable people in the Chicago metropolitan area. The Trust carries forward the vision of Michael Reese Hospital’s Jewish founders and the generations of philanthropic and healthcare leadership they inspired through grant making to organizations that address the health and well-being of our community.

About Polk Bros. Foundation
Polk Bros. Foundation is a private independent foundation guided by the question: “What do Chicagoans affected by poverty need most?” As one of the largest funders of Chicago nonprofits, it engages at the intersection of the city’s pressing issues to address poverty’s complex roots and devastating effects. Because Chicago families were the heart of the Polk Bros stores, the Foundation was established in 1988 to build and strengthen Chicago families. Polk Bros. has since partnered with nearly 3,000 Chicago nonprofits to build strong communities and strong families, increase access to quality education and the arts, improve health, and to strengthen their organizations and the sectors in which they work. Learn more at