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How the Equiticity mobility justice nonprofit invests in community change

Equiticity's current Invest in Real Community Change Campaign seeks to raise $125,000 from 300 donors.

BikeForce Summer 2022 Cohort Learning at Collins High School. Photo: Equiticity

This post is sponsored by The Bike Lane.

The mobility justice nonprofit Equiticity currently has an Invest in Real Community Change Campaign, with the goal of raising $125,000 from 300 donors. Streetsblog Chicago recently sat down with Equiticity’s senior director of development Bonnie Scarlett-Logan and director of operations Cecily Langford to find out more about where the money from donors would be going.

“Equiticity’s budget has grown to nearly $3 million over the past six years," said Scarlett-Logan. "This campaign is an important phase of our annual fund development plan. We allocate funds from our campaigns and other development efforts to direct service programs that help improve the lives of residents in Chicago’s West and South sides (such as BikeForce and Mobility Opportunities Fund) and to organizational capacity building that supports our programs and other racial equity initiatives.”

Bonnie Scarlett-Logan. Photo: Equiticity

Scarlett-Logan added that their fundraising goals also include “garnering broad support” through their five pillars, which are Research, Advocacy, Programs, Community Mobility Rituals, and Social Enterprises. They also want to raise funds for their headquarters in North Lawndale on the West Side, which would allow the organization to better help out with community needs. While she was only able to discuss plans for the headquarters in broad strokes, Langford said that staying rooted in North Lawndale is a priority for them.

Looking back on the past year, Langford wanted to highlight the Mobility Opportunities Fund, “an innovative and impactful project that both contributes to reduced environmental pollution in our community, and also gets people more actively mobile in North Lawndale.” Having ComEd as a sponsor allowed Equiticity to purchase quite a few different vehicles for North Lawndale residents. This included “111 conventional bikes, 85 electric bikes, 57 electric cargo bikes, and four electric vehicles. And Equiticity distributed 156 safety equipment kits.”

BikeForce is a mechanics program that teaches high school students and young adults all about electric vehicles. Thanks to Cook County Justice Advisory Council funding, Equiticity was able to train 20 young people by the end of last summer.

Langford also wanted to highlight the organization's advocacy work. “Equiticity launched the Free 2 Move Coalition during the summer of 2022 to advocate for improvements in biking infrastructure and policy changes that impact Black and Brown people especially," Langford said. "The issue of police harassment of Black and Brown bike riders, including aggressive enforcement of street crossing regulations and prohibitions against riding on the sidewalk was highlighted in the report, 'Biking While Black,' which Equiticity collaborated upon.”

Langford, center, with other Equiticity folks. Image Cecily Langford

Langford added, “These types of stops increased exponentially as an alternative to stop-and-frisk, and as an example quoted in Biking While Black, tickets were issued eight times more often per capita in majority Black community areas and three times more often in majority Latino community areas compared to majority white areas.”

Langford said Equiticity also had a “wonderful season” of their Community Mobility Rituals series, where they socialize with community residents through various excursions like walking, biking, and open street festivals. According to Langford, through the 14 events that they’ve had through the past year, they’ve managed to impact “hundreds of people.” Langford also mentioned Equiticity’s “significant internal growth,” allowing them to “expand and deepen the work of our mission and vision.”

“We are really working harder than ever before with a team of 13 to really take on some very ambitious goals and some really see some real impact, to have different life outcomes for people," Langford added.

Scarlett-Logan also discussed how Equiticity is trying to differentiate the Invest in Real Community Change Campaign with other organization’s funding campaigns. She said they like the investment theme because they feel everyone should have an interest in and work to bring about racial equity, which has benefits for multiple communities.

“We all should feel that we can do something to change, to dismantle, the structures of racism," Scarlett-Logan concluded. "That's what I'm hoping that our messaging is conveying. We certainly want people to feel they can contribute their treasure, right, to donate money, but then also see this as a bigger ask of, think about where you can contribute your time. Come join us and volunteer with us. Be our thought partners. Let use our talents to build a better society."

Click here to contribute to the Invest in Real Community Change Campaign.

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