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Thanks to You, Streetsblog Chicago Is Back in the Saddle

Steven and John talk with readers at last week's fundraising party at Transit Tees. Photo: Brandon Souba

Yesterday was a heckuva day in the Windy City. Not only did we have a hard-fought mayoral and aldermanic runoff election (more on that later today) but supporters came out of the woodwork to help out Streetsblog Chicago in the last hours of our three-month reboot campaign.

Thanks to that final push, including some late-breaking large donations, we now have $57,300 in our war chest. That's well over the $50K we needed to raise by today in order to win the $25K challenge grant from the Chicago Community Trust.

As a result, we’ve got enough funding to relaunch as a locally funded nonprofit, the Chicagoland Streets Project, and resume publication for a year. Steven Vance and I are thrilled to be returning to what we do best: bringing you the latest in sustainable transportation and safe streets news.

Back in early January, when I learned we would have to suspend publication due to a funding shortfall, I was hopeful that the thousands of Chicagoans who read Streetsblog on a daily basis wouldn’t let the site stay offline for long. You folks proved that I was right to be optimistic.

Over the last three months, more than 300 individuals who want to see better conditions for walking, transit, and bicycling in Chicago put their money where their mouth is by donating to the Streetsblog Chicago Resurrection Fund. Dozens of contributions came in on Tuesday alone.

There are too many supporters to thank you all, but we’d like to give a shout-out to the 15 people who donated $200 or more, including Kyle Heath, David and Allyson Altenberg, Andy Ross, Michael Ellis, Dennis Griffin, Peter Skosey, Jeff Judge, Maria Barnes and Tim Herlihy, Gareth Tucker, and Justin Haugens, plus a few anonymous donors. One very loyal reader gave $10,000, which – needless to say -- was crucial for meeting out goal.

Out of all the organizations that have helped us out, the Chicago Community Trust obviously deserves special recognition for providing the challenge grant. Not only will it provide a large chunk of our operating budget, it was also invaluable for inspiring others to contribute. Big thanks to the trust’s Michael Davidson for making this happen.

We also received generous donations from the TransitCenter foundation ($2,315) and the Active Transportation Alliance ($1,000), which we greatly appreciate.

Corporate donors include Revolution Brewing ($2,000), Sam Schwartz Engineering ($1,000), Alta Planning + Design ($500), SRAM Corporation ($500), and Po Campo ($460). We're thankful for your support.

We’d also like to give a shout-out to our returning and new advertising sponsors: FK Law, Keating Law Offices, Bike and Roll Chicago, Boulevard Bikes, the Bike Lane, Uptown Bikes, Roscoe Village Bikes, the Handlebar, and Transit Tees.

Steven and I are grateful to Peter Skosey, Ron Burke, and Daniel Ronan for significant help and encouragement during the funding campaign. Thanks also to Suzanne Carlson, Yonah Freemark, Cathy Haibach, Gabe Klein, and Anne Marie Thigpen for fundraising advice.

We’re excited about the new board of the Chicagoland Streets Project, which includes important players from the local sustainable transportation scene: Anne Alt, Maria Barnes, Ben Blander, Lorena Cupcake, Courtney Cobbs, Jacky Grimshaw, Garth Katner, Randy Neufeld, Lebster Pabon, and Oboi Reed. Their guidance on running the 501c3 nonprofit, as well as input on editorial content, will be key as we move forward as an independent organization.

Last but not least, we’d like to thank our peers at the Streetsblog network for assistance and moral support during the reboot effort. Ben Fried, Damien Newton, Angie Schmitt, Stephen Miller, Aaron Bialick, and Brad Aaron, we’re looking forward to working with you as full-fledged colleagues once again.

Apologies to anyone we’ve left out -- so many people have stepped forward to help over the last three months that we’re probably forgetting some of you. But the fact that we’ve received so much help from hundreds of different people during the campaign is truly a testament to the vibrancy of Chicago’s transportation advocacy community.

As we move forward, you’ll notice that our publishing schedule is a bit lighter than before the hiatus. I am resuming my role as a full-time staffer. However, Steven, who has been busy doing freelance website and database programming for urban planning-related projects, will be writing somewhat fewer posts than before. We continue to seek funding opportunities that would allow us publish more frequently.

This year, I will be writing more grant applications to fund the following year of operations. Having a few large revenue sources, rather than a zillion smaller ones, will help make Streetsblog Chicago a sustainable project. However, support from readers will continue to be key.

2015 promises to be another big year for transportation news. The completion of the Loop Link bus rapid transit system, the Bloomingdale Trail, the Chicago Riverwalk extension, and the 100th mile of buffered and protected bike lanes are all on the horizon. Major battles over the Rauner transit funding cuts, traffic cameras, and transit-oriented development projects also loom before us.

We can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get to work reporting on these stories. Now we can, thanks to the amazing support we’ve received from readers like you.

- John

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