Since March of 2020, as the COVID-19 crisis quickly escalated, BECOME recognized that the pandemic was going to have a distinctly disparate impact on residents and community-based non-profits in Chicago’s marginalized communities. Within a week of Illinois and Chicago issuing a mandatory “shelter in place” order, BECOME began to convene, virtually, a group of local and national non-profit representatives, with the purpose of strategizing and learning from each other on how to address the needs faced by communities on the South and Westside’s of Chicago.
During a month-long period, the organization convened three virtual conversations with this group. The themes of the conversations were: 1) fact finding (asking each organization to state the current psychological, physical, and social needs of their constituencies); 2) organizational sustainability (what are fiscal and support structures needed now and in the future to sustain their work); and 3) visioning (what have we learned individually, organizationally, and collectively that will impact our work in the future). From these conversations, it was clear that there were gaps in addressing comprehensive and complicated community needs, sufficient capacity to meet all the needs, and uncertainty in exactly what works in this unprecedented predicament.
To address these gaps, BECOME will initiate the Maximizing Impact Initiative. BECOME is launching an initiative called Maximizing Impact during COVID-19 to increase the effectiveness of support in the three communities hardest hit by the virus in Chicago: Auburn Gresham, Southshore, and Austin. Our team will partner with organizations working on the frontlines to help more people and save more lives, especially in communities of color. This work will involve reaching out to families and individuals in these neighborhoods to hear how they are getting through this time and what they still need. Secondly, will ensure resources are expanding to touch the lives of any friends and family members that were not being served. Lastly, we will listen to their stories and help improve the systems providing resources based on what we are hearing from the people.
Our hope is that we can implement and share this model and our approach to supporting communities across the country and world.
Here’s a video telling a story about an act of resilience by a community organization – https://youtu.be/Vyf9HrhmAOg.
Here’s a blog on the initiative.