Chicago Foundations Invest $169,150 in Innovation and Collaboration to Address Domestic Violence
October 19 2018

FIRST Fund will support planning of new and promising solutions to address domestic violence

(October 19, 2018) – Today, Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW), in partnership with Chicago Community Trust, Crown Family Philanthropies, the Ellie Fund at the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Chicago, The Michael Reese Health Trust, Polk Bros. Foundation and VNA Foundation announced eight grants from the Family and Interpersonal Resilience and Safety Transformation (FIRST) Fund, totaling $169,150, to support innovative and collaborative solutions to domestic and intimate partner violence.

“The causes and contributors to domestic violence are complex and entrenched,” CFW President/CEO K. Sujata said. “Uprooting systems of violence will take collaboration and new ways of thinking. We are proud to be part of a group of funders committed to investing in innovative and promising solutions to domestic violence.”

FIRST Fund grants will support the planning of a diverse array of initiatives to address domestic and intimate partner violence and to develop additional partners and allies among young men, labor and immigrant justice movements. FIRST Fund grant recipients will explore solutions to harmful gender and cultural norms, and plan for new tools for individuals and sectors that may work with families impacted by domestic violence, including those not often thought of responding to domestic violence, from child welfare workers and pre-school teachers to mediators and legal aid services.

“These initiatives have great potential to benefit organizations focused on helping break the cycle of violence in families,” said Polk Bros. Foundation Vice President of Programs Evette Cardona. “We believe this will help Chicago’s domestic violence services community to become even more resilient in the face of economic, political and other environmental changes.”

FIRST Fund grants were made to the following organizations:

Between Friends works to break the cycle of domestic violence and build a community free of abuse, and serves thousands of adults and youths every year through crisis intervention services, and prevention and education programs. In collaboration with survivors of domestic violence and community partners, Between Friends will engage survivors as leaders in developing an economic empowerment toolkit and learning modules that address domestic violence, restoring/rebuilding credit, job training, and understanding debt.

HANA Center empowers Korean American, immigrant and multi-racial communities through a continuum of social services, education and community organizing. HANA Center will work with KAN-WIN, which works to eradicate all forms of violence against women by empowering Asian American survivors and their community, to organize and support male-identified Asian American Pacific Islander youth to challenge traditional gender norms, and build male support and leadership to prevent domestic and intimate partner violence.

Healing to Action advances a worker-led movement to end gender-based violence by cultivating survivor leadership, elevating gender violence as a priority in the labor movement’s organizing agenda, and coalition-building to coordinate the efforts of the labor and anti-violence movements to support survivors. Collaborating with unions and grassroots organizations to connect with workers across industries and cultures, Healing to Action will cultivate and support survivor leaders in advancing grassroots advocacy campaigns and sustainable solutions to prevent sexual violence.

The Family Defense Center advocates justice for families in the child welfare system. The Family Defense Center, in partnership with A Safe Place, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), as well as the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, will implement a pilot project to place community-based domestic violence advocates in DCFS regional offices to advise and work alongside staff on trauma-informed, supportive interventions for families impacted by domestic violence.

Lake County Crisis Center (A Safe Place) offers comprehensive domestic violence services that provide a safety net to assist survivors of domestic violence and their children. A Safe Place will conduct a planning process to explore the use of a community health worker program to better reach high-barrier and isolated populations, including Latino families, African American families and the elderly population.

Latinos Progresando operates the largest Latino-led, family-based immigration legal services program in Illinois, including specialized services for immigrant survivors of domestic violence. Latinos Progresando will work with former clients, community members and organizations to conduct a feasibility study for programming helping immigrant women and their families adjust to a new immigration status, while leveraging assets and strengths of community-based organizations in Marshall Square.

Resolution Systems Institute, Inc. strengthens access to justice by enhancing court alternative dispute resolution such as mediation. Resolution Systems Institute, Inc. will explore the development of an online intimate partner violence screening tool for mediators to meet the mediation needs of families impacted by violence.

YWCA of Evanston/North Shore has worked for over six decades to foster gender, racial and economic equity for women and girls. YWCA of Evanston/North Shore will conduct a comprehensive needs assessment and asset mapping to develop a coordinated response to domestic violence focused on preschoolers and their families.

The FIRST Fund was developed in response to the 2017 report, Connecting to Safety and Stability: Domestic Violence Needs Assessment of Chicago, produced by the Heartland Alliance Social IMPACT Research Center. The fund was launched in May 2018.


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 Chicago Community Trust

The Chicago Community Trust is a community foundation dedicated to improving our region through strategic grant making, civic engagement and inspiring philanthropy. We are here to serve the nonprofit organizations, the generous donors and the thoughtful residents who strive to make a difference, helping their bold vision create lasting community change. We work with a number of partnerships and initiatives to accomplish this work. As businesses, local governments, and organizations strive to solve pressing challenges, the Trust brings these key actors together. Working together, we leverage collective knowledge, creativity and resources for a greater impact than any of us can make alone.

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 Ellie Fund at the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago
The mission of the Ellie Fund is to support causes, issues, initiatives, and programs that promote safety, security, equal rights, equal voice, and equal opportunity for girls and women.

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 dedicated to building and
strengthening Chicago’s families and communities, especially those most affected by poverty. The Foundation focuses its work at the intersection of Chicago’s most pressing issues to address the complex roots and devastating effects of poverty, challenge inequity, and ensure that all Chicagoans have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

About The VNA Foundation
The VNA Foundation supports home- and community-based health services for medically underserved populations in the Chicago metropolitan area. VNA proudly funds the ongoing needs of established programs providing services essential to the wellbeing of their communities, as well as innovative new interventions and proactive Special Initiatives.