Help us raise $50K in addition to $75K from Chicago Community Trust to expand SBC
Greetings Streetsblog Chicago readers,
I hope you’re all holding up OK during these difficult times. Here at SBC we’ve been as busy as ever this spring and summer. We’ve documented the transportation challenges that COVID-19 has created for residents, transit workers, and the CTA, Metra, and Pace. We’ve advocated for changes to improve safety for commuters, and make more room for socially-distanced transit, walking, and biking in order to prevent a dangerous spike in driving. We’ve applauded as local decision-makers have implemented many of our suggestions. And we’ve continued to push city and state officials to do more to keep active transportation safe, convenient, and financially sustainable despite the current headwinds.
But amidst the difficulties of the current era, we’ve got some great news about this website. Once again The Chicago Community Trust, the region’s community foundation, is offering to support our work. The Trust has been a crucial patron of the site since it debuted in 2013 as part of the Streetsblog network, and the Trust’s support became especially vital when we relaunched as an independent nonprofit in 2015.
Best of all, the Trust has committed to supporting Streetsblog Chicago with a grant of $75,000 for 2021 — that’s a 50 percent increase from the contributions they provided during the last two years. (Note that, unlike in recent years, this is not a challenge grant.) Obviously we are very grateful for their continued support.
If we can raise $50,000 though other grants, ad sales, corporate sponsorships, and donations from readers like you, with a goal of wrapping up the fund drive by January 1, that will bring our 2021 budget to $125K. This will allow us to promote Streetsblog Chicago assistant editor Courtney Cobbs to co-editor, increasing her hours and writing / editing output, so that Courtney and I will be leading the publication together. That will make Courtney the first African American to head a Streetsblog site in the history of the network. An additional perk for SBC readers will be that we’ll never have to shut down the site on non-holiday weeks when I’m unavailable to edit.
The $125K budget will also allow us to earmark funds for a new weekly series focusing on transportation and urban planning issues that impact Chicago’s Latino community, including immigration-relation mobility justice matters, affordable housing, public safety challenges that affect freedom of movement, and environmental justice-related topics.
As it stands, Streetsblog Chicago has our largest roster of talented staffers and regular freelancers to date, based all over the city, plus the western suburbs. Recent topics Courtney has covered have ranged from barriers to walking, biking, and transit in Chicago’s communities of color during the pandemic; the folly of building a 500-car garage in the West Loop; and how pandemic transportation challenges have prompted more local families to buy e-cargo bikes. SBC cofounder Steven Vance currently has a full-time job in real estate and planning consulting, but he’s still helping us out a few hours a week with with editorial decisions and the technical aspects of running the site.
Our regular freelancers include Amber Drea, Sharon Hoyer, Imelda March, Ariel Parrella-Aureli, Mia Park, James Porter, Igor Studenkov, and David Zegeye. I’m very glad to have all these smart people in the mix.
In addition to building a great crew, Streetsblog Chicago has recently racked up a number of recent wins for sustainable transportation and pandemic safety including successfully:
- Lobbying the CTA to implement fare-free rear-door bus boarding to protect drivers and passengers during the worst months of the COVID crisis.
- Encouraging the Chicago Department of Transit to make more room for safe walking and biking during the pandemic by piloting Slow Streets.
- Proposing to Mayor Lori Lightfoot that she safely reopen the Lakefront Trail and Bloomingdale Trail by deploying Social Distancing Ambassadors.
- Recommending that the city enable safer outdoor dining and help out hospitality workers and businesses by launching Chicago’s wildly successful pedestrianized Cafe Streets program.
Currently Streetsblog Chicago is campaigning to:
- Create pandemic bus and bike lanes to make non-car commutes safer and avoid a spike in driving, crashes, and congestion.
- Make sure sustainable transportation is fairly funded in the 2021 Chicago budget.
- Spur the development of affordable transit-oriented developments citywide.
In the past sponsors, advertisers, and readers like you have been a huge help in reaching our funding goals. With your assistance, I’m confident that we can raise the $50K we need once again and not only keep the site going at full strength but expand our reach. While there are many worthwhile causes asking for money at this time, we hope that if you appreciate Streetsblog Chicago’s coverage, you’ll consider donating today. As always, a huge thanks for your loyal support!
— John Greenfield, editor