Marquise Weatherspoon presents check to representatives of Girls Summit on Leadership and Action
Marquise Weatherspoon presents check to representatives of Girls Summit on Leadership and Action

  On Jan. 23, Evanston Cradle to Career’s Advocates for Action, in partnership with the Evanston Community Foundation, announced that 11 groups would be awarded Community Building Grants this year.  About 100 people filled the meeting room at Gibbs Morrison Cultural Center where the announcements were made, and representatives of each group summarized how they planned to use the grants.

While the grants were relatively small, ranging from $500 to $1,000, the representatives of each group were glad to receive the grants and excited to carry out their projects to help youth, young adults and others in the community.

“Community Building Grants support individuals and groups who want to make their local communities better places to live and raise families,” said Kimberly Holmes-Ross, Community Engagement Director of EC2C. “Local communities might be just one block or a larger neighborhood area or a group of community members who have shared experiences.”

Applicants for the grants were required to live in Evanston, and the grants are intended for small volunteer-based neighborhood and community groups. Established nonprofits and businesses were not allowed to apply.

Marquise Weatherspoon, the President of Advocates for Action, said every application submitted for a grant presented a “wonderful” idea. “We’re here to make Evanston the most livable City.”

 This year’s grants were awarded to:

  • E-Town Sister Circle: a group for black women, fostering a sense of belonging and support. The group also assists in voter registration and helps people to expunge arrest and criminal records.
  • Evanston Minority Business Consortium: pre-apprenticeship training program preparing individuals for building trades apprenticeships.
  • Evanston Latinos: Convivencia (Fuerza Latina) to build community and empowerment.
  • Girls Empowered to Thrive Under Pressure: Self-defense and mentorship program to build girls’ self-esteem and confidence, and overcome racism, sexism, and incidents of sexual assault.
  • Girls Summit on Leadership and Action: Summit for 50 eighth-grade girls to teach them leadership skills and inspire and challenge them to think outside the box.
  • I Made This: teaching adults, 18 years and older, how to sew – “It’s a skill you have the rest of your life.”
  • Juneteenth Creative Dance: Dance team of African American children, ages 8 to 16, to perform on Juneteenth [June 19] 2020 in Evanston.
  • Knitting Outreach: Promote intercultural and intergenerational outreach through the international craft of knitting – “It’s empowering.”
  • Latinx Parents en Accion: Support group providing information to help connect Latinx families with the schools and community in Evanston – “We hope all Latinx families feel welcome in Evanston.”
  • Learning Our History – Changing Our Future: Trip for 16 youths and 6 adults to the Charles A. Wright and Motown Museums in Detroit, to learn more about African American history.
  • Wealth I Am: Wealth building through storytelling events.

The Advocates for Action team, in partnership with Evanston Community Foundation, selected the recipients of the grants.  Advocates for Action is a community leadership council formed by Evanston Cradle to Career (EC2C). EC2C provided leadership training for 16 community members aiming to amplify their voices and equip them to lead the necessary actions for change, said Ms. Holmes-Ross.

More than 40 organizations are currently partners in EC2C, including School Districts 65 and 202, the City of Evanston, Northwestern University, and many non-profit organizations and faith communities. The mission is: “By the age of 23, all Evanston young adults will be on the path to leading happy, healthy, productive, and satisfying lives.”

EC2C is built on the premise of “collective impact” – that schools, institutions, community organizations, business groups, and others can have a greater impact by working together to address complex social and educational issues than working alone.