Freedom Summer 2023 is an initiative of the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. The $1 million grant program aims to support local organizations that are working to reduce violence in Chicago communities this summer by creating and expanding spaces and programming where boys and young men of color can safely learn, play, and engage.

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Freedom Summer is anchored to the MBK Alliance’s sixth milestone, that all youth should remain safe from violent crime.

According to a report by the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab, violent crime in Chicago peaks during the hot summer months: There are about twice as many shootings on days over 85 degrees as there are on days under 50 degrees. Freedom Summer aims to support local organizations as they endeavor to engage youth and contribute to a downturn in violence this summer.

Each Freedom Summer awardee will receive a $30,000 grant. The MBK Alliance knows the efforts of community organizations throughout the City of Chicago are often stifled due to limited financial resources. Our hope is that our investment, coupled with the dedicated effort of those individuals hosting summer programs, serves as the seed from which our young boys will grow and evolve into passionate, driven, and successful men.

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Why is the Freedom Summer an Initiative of the MBK Alliance?
Our work has taught us time and again that communities are the unit of change, and when they work together to solve problems – they can create improved life outcomes for our youth. Freedom Summer is designed to turn the tide of youth violence within our communities by equipping them with resources to create safe spaces during the summer months. Not only are we providing communities with financial resources, but we are empowering them with tools to be creative. We want our MBK Alliance communities to know that the Obama Foundation remains committed to supporting community-led initiatives that improve and ensure the safety, engagement, and protection of boys and young men of color.

How much funding will I receive?
Each Freedom Summer awardee will receive a $30,000 grant.

Who is eligible to receive the grants?
Eligible Freedom Summer applicants must be a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization or a sponsored project of a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor with a valid sponsorship agreement in place.

How are recipients selected?
The MBK Alliance is looking to support projects that will have a potentially lifesaving impact on boys and young men of color this summer. Freedom Summer applications will be evaluated based upon whether or not the eligible applicant’s project proposal aligns with the mission of Freedom Summer. Project proposals should be able to measure their projected impact on boys and young men of color and focus on executing creative ways to keep youth engaged and safe this summer.

What are the criteria you’re evaluating during the process?
To apply for the grant, eligible organizations must provide:

  • Proof of 501(c)(3) status or partnership agreement
  • A short narrative describing the proposed project that meets the mission of Freedom Summer
  • An explanation of how the project will impact the lives of boys and young men of color and how the organization will measure success
  • A signed letter of support (from CEO or Senior Executive) that details an overview of the programming that the funds will cover and describes any relationships or partnerships that will support the effort
  • A simple budget indicating expected expenses
  • Age group to be supported by the application
  • The neighborhood or community the project will serve

When will applicants be notified of their selection?
All Freedom Summer applicants will be notified of their recommended selection no later than May 30, 2023.

Who do I contact for technical support, or assistance?
Please use this form to get support from our team.

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