Catalyst Grants 2012

Each December, we pull out a file of the organizations that have captured our interest or inspired us throughout the year. We then send each organization an unexpected gift from our chairman’s Studio Account.

Here are the new Studio grantees for 2012:

A Better Chicago is a venture philanthropy fund that enables people and companies to invest in a group of extraordinary nonprofits that are creating opportunity for the Chicago region’s low-income population.

Ashoka is the largest association of leading social entrepreneurs in the world, and funds and collaborates with individuals and organizations to make social change happen. This year’s contribution is for its Empathy Initiative, which comprises a community of individuals and institutions dedicated to building a future in which every child masters empathy.

Aspen Community Foundation responds to the needs of people throughout Aspen Valley and is dedicated to improving the community’s quality of life. This gift is for the Cradle to Career Partnership, a collective impact initiative that brings non-profits, business, education, philanthropy and government together to support the success of children in the Aspen region.

Bullyproof Outreach is an anti-bullying and youth empowerment program with martial arts at its core, based at Pro TKD Martial Arts Center in Carbondale, Colorado.

Cathedral Shelter’s mission is to restore hope and prevent homelessness. It operates permanent supportive housing program for homeless adults and families who are dealing with addiction; an addiction treatment program; and community outreach programs.

Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation addresses the culture, institutions, and individuals that perpetrate, profit from, or support sexual exploitation. Their work includes prevention, policy reform, community engagement, and legal services, and is seen as an international model among local-level anti-sex-trafficking programs.

The Chicago Legal Clinic is a premier provider of community-based quality legal services to the underserved and disadvantaged in the Chicago area.

The Emergency Fund provides immediate financial assistance to help low-income Chicago-area individuals and families through a crisis or transition.

The Empowerment Plan is a humanitarian project that produces and distributes a coat that is self-heated, waterproof, and transforms into a sleeping bag at night. The coats are made by a group of homeless women who have been trained and employed to learn and produce coats for others living on the streets. The Night Ministry, which works to provide housing, health care and human connection to Chicago’s homeless, which will be distributing coats in SCE’s hometown.

Free Spirit Media provides education, access, and opportunity in media production to over 500 underserved urban youth every year.

Girls4Science is a nonprofit organization that exposes girls in Chicago to science, technology, engineering, and math. They focus on developing skills, self-esteem, awareness, and relationships to help girls overcome barriers that may prevent them from achieving success in these fields.

Growing Home uses organic agriculture as a vehicle for job training, employment, and community development. They operate on organic farms in Englewood, Back of the Yards, and in Marseilles, Illinois.

iCivics prepares young Americans to become knowledgeable, engaged 21st century citizens by creating free and innovative educational materials. In just two years, iCivics has produced 16 educational video games as well as vibrant teaching materials that have been used in classrooms in all 50 states.

Jewish Child & Family Services provides help, healing, and caring services infused with Jewish values and compassion to more than 26,000 people each year, including help with autism, support with advanced illness, special education, individual and family counseling.

Playing For Change Foundation is dedicated to connecting the world through music by providing resources to musicians and their communities around the world.
A song from the documentary that inspired the organization:

Polaris Project is one of the leading organizations in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. By successfully pushing for stronger federal and state laws, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, conducting trainings, and providing vital services to victims of trafficking, Polaris creates long-term solutions aimed at moving society closer to a world without slavery.

Refugees International advocates for lifesaving assistance and protection for displaced people and promotes solutions to displacement crises.

Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy, part of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, is a high-quality Chicago high schools that primarily serves African-American and Hispanic students from low-income families.

Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with medical professionals to rapidly deploy emergency response teams into crisis situations. This new paradigm in disaster response has been particularly effective in response to Hurricane Sandy.