Special thanks to our generous Acting Up award donors, including Allstate, which is supporting Acting Up initiatives that help youth.

Congratulations to the 2018 Acting Up award winners!

The Chicago Community Trust on Wednesday, June 27 announced the awarding of 37 Acting Up awards totaling $150,500 for tangible activities that benefit neighborhoods and the public good.

These ideas were sparked through the Trust’s fifth annual On the Table – where Chicago-area residents came together on May 8th in mealtime conversations to engage in meaningful dialogue, develop new relationships and inspire action to make a difference in our communities.

Two hundred On the Table participants submitted their ideas online through brief two-minute videos. A team of more than 20 judges viewed and evaluated the video entries.

This year, the Acting Up awards provided $1,500 awards, $2,500 awards and $5,000 awards.  Winners are from all across the Chicagoland region and are focused on a wide range of issues including: education and youth development, community engagement, health and wellness, arts and culture, food access and more.

You can view all winning Acting Up videos here, or you can click individual video links below. Thanks to the generosity of Allstate and other donors, more than $150,000 have been awarded.

After Prison, Now What? Community Advocates:

Westside Justice Center will develop a community advocates program, where they will train individuals who are looking to volunteer their time to help those reentering society following incarceration.

Belmont Cragin Art Walk:

Onward Neighborhood House has partnered with other local businesses to plan a community art walk this fall – murals and pop-up exhibits will generate a positive community spirit, and increase the connection between local commerce and the community.

From the Porch of Gwendolyn Brooks:

The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame will host two events at Brooks Park where children, who have been mentored by local writers and educators, can share their work.

Get Cleared:

The Monroe Foundation and community activists will mobilize and transport 100-250 ex-offenders to the Chicago Police Department Headquarters on 35th & Michigan to apply for their “rap sheets,” and connect them to advocates and resources that will help break the cycle of recidivism and become productive citizens of society.

Get Free Arts Project:

Starting this fall in East Garfield Park, ArtReach Chicago will provide materials and art instruction for 10 weeks of free programming in ceramics, glass and textiles for individuals of all ages and all art abilities.

Growing Citizen Leaders:

This summer, Imagine Englewood if… will engage local youth to develop and implement a marketing campaign called #LeadFreeEnglewood, in an effort to increase awareness of the dangerous levels of lead in the neighborhood and its potential health consequences.

Help Us Amplify Our Impact!

To continue to bring residents together, the McKinley Park Advisory & Development Councils will purchase a small battery-powered amplifier for park events, create a mural to highlight a local playground, and also have Spanish and Chinese translators at Park events.


Friends of Recovery, United (FORU) will provide free, temporary home recovery services to eight individuals in problem-solving courts after they complete treatment. FORU will also match the grant and provide services for an additional eight individuals.

Hunger Awareness Music Video / PSA:

The Chicago Children’s Theater (CCT) in West Loop, in partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, will collect donations for the Depository, provide opportunities for youth to volunteer and create a music video style PSA featuring youth alongside CCT actors to raise awareness of hunger.

Kids in the News:

Partnering with Already Always Amazing and NBC University, this project will give 25 youth an opportunity to share their voice and express their ideas by learning how to produce informative content that will air on Chicago’s CAN-TV television station and the internet.

Kitchen Possible Programming:

Through weekly volunteer-run cooking lessons, in partnership with Breakthrough FamilyPlex, Kitchen Possible will work with low-income kids in East Garfield Park to develop their confidence and sense of control. The grant will cover equipment and supplies for the duration of the program.

L.E.A.R.N. (Lead, Excel, Accomplish, Recognize, Nourish):

Breaking the Chains will conduct two summits in the Englewood communities to engage youth in resume writing, interviewing, financial literacy and more. These summits will give youth the chance to help expand and develop an educational curriculum that will be implemented in nearby schools and organizations.

More Than Just a Backpack:

In partnership with Good News Partners shelter in Rogers Park, students of Monster Education Foundation will provide youth at the shelter $50 for completing preassigned chores, backpacks and school supplies and gift cards for good grades. They will also implement a “Good Grades Incentive Program” and goal-setting workshop.

NP Showcase:

The Not-for-Profit Showcase will highlight the great work of 30 nonprofits of all different types across Chicagoland by creating six segments on CAN-TV television station and the Internet.

Opening Doors to Change:

This initiative will provide information that helps immigrants in the Chicago Lawn community increase their understanding of public safety, education and immigration.

Operation Warm & Healthy:

Operation Warm and Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness will pilot a program that connects disadvantaged families in Joliet with a local health clinic by gifting winter coats to families who visit the clinic.


This initiative will provide a series of self-care mini-retreat experiences to increase the capacity of a goal-focused advisory group of African-American school principals and parent leaders who are part of the AG GOLD initiative of the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation.

South Side VR Kids:

The program will give youth from different communities the opportunity to learn more about all aspects of virtual reality in a safe space in Bronzeville during one of the most violent months in the city (July).

Stronger Together Youth Summit & Mentoring Fair:

This project will convene high school girls from across the City to discuss topics such as being a good friend, how to use social media properly, developing leadership skills, all while giving them direct access to local role models and mentoring organizations.

Taking Pride in the South Side:

Global Girls will engage 100 residents to tell their ‘South Side stories’ and will create a video to show the positive attributes of the area. The video will be shown at a block party where all video participants, alderman and business representatives will be in attendance.

Tales from the Table: Connecting Through Food:

Pilot Light will implement projects in Englewood, Bronzeville and Hyde Park – each tailored to the neighborhood’s unique strengths/needs – to connect neighbors and solve community problems. Projects include wellness activities, such as healthy meal assembly, cooking classes and community gardens.

Teacher 2 Teacher:

The Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange will set up a workshop series for teachers to inspire them to empower students to be creative problem solvers using materials at hand. They will demonstrate environmental stewardship and make connections with donating businesses and each other.

Word Play Way 2.0:

This initiative will create a giant word search on a sidewalk in Douglas Park that will contain a community driven poem to help promote literacy, community engagement and poetry as a form of creative expression.

Youth Advocates:

Youth Advocates in Austin will foster dialogue among youth on the health issues affecting them and their peers and create policy recommendations, while receiving advocacy training, in preparation for a presentation of their recommendations to local and state policymakers.

Building Unity In The Adult Education Community:

Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition will host a series of field trips to the National Mexican Museum of Art, the DuSable Museum and the Chinese American Museum so adult learners can build a community across Chicago’s racially segregated neighborhoods.

Character Plays/Assemblies:

A.O. Marshall Elementary School in Joliet will produce stage productions of skits and stories to teach character traits that will be performed by students.

DiasporaX, Making & Connecting Communities:

This project involves hosting a series of events in Latinx communities in Chicago, where participants discuss and make art around Latinx experiences.

Empowering Southside LSCs – Transforming Communities:

Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education will host events to train and empower south side Local School Councils.

Hack The System – #FosterCare:

The Department of Child and Family Services will work directly with youth in their care to host a one-day summit that lets them play a role in informing solutions to improve their time in foster care and increase access to opportunities upon leaving.

HELIUM Health Education:

HELIUM (Health Education for Low Income, Undocumented & Minorities), is a student-run organization that strives to provide health education to young students in lower socioeconomic regions of Chicago, to host a health fair in Albany Park this fall.

Language Equity – Medicaid Access for Immigrants:

Limited English proficiency often serves as a barrier that prevents families from accessing health coverage. University of Illinois at Chicago, ICIRR and immigrant community organization partners will conduct trainings and materials to help navigate the health care system.

Tech Prep Labs – Creating Future Techies:

Tech Prep Labs, Inc. will develop technology-based resource centers that will have free technology training for more than 100 students of all ages living in the Roseland community area.

The W.O.W. Project:

This initiative involves hosting a number of workshops and a summit, as well as developing resources to address and provide education on mental health challenges, specifically depression among women and girls.

What To Do When A Loved One Is Arrested Project:

Launch a program and offer materials to train key community stakeholders on the steps to take after someone in the community has been arrested.

Young Women of Worth:

This project involves developing an after-school mentoring program to empower and uplift young women – building self-confidence, and equipping them with tools and knowledge that they need in order to excel academically and emotionally.

Back Alley Glitz:

Prosperity House will clean alleys in their West Woodlawn neighborhood to make it a safer space to live and play.

Community Exchange Market at Oriole Park:

The community-run market will connect people through an exchange of volunteers, ideas, music, skills-building opportunities and used items.