Community Investment Awards 2019: Advancing Equity

Woodstock Institute gathered with our partners from banks, nonprofits, academia, and foundations on May 16, 2019, at the Fifth Third Bank Center to honor the accomplishments of leaders in our field.

This year, we had the tremendous pleasure to honor John Bouman, President of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, for his groundbreaking advocacy for economic and social justice both in Illinois and across the country. We also honored Woods Fund Chicago for its leadership in advancing racial equity and economic justice through support of grassroots organizing and public policy advocacy, and through the Truth, Healing, and Racial Transformation Greater Chicago initiative. Caronia Grimble accepted the award on behalf of Woods Fund.

In accepting the award on behalf of Woods Fund, Caronina spoke eloquently about Woods Fund’s focus on equity. This year, our Senior Vice President of Policy & Communication Brent Adams successfully completed the three-part training offered through the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (THRT) program. The program was tremendously impactful for Woodstock, as the policy team used it to develop the language and skills to be explicit in our calls for a racial equity impact analysis/assessment. Woodstock’s involvement with Woods Fund Chicago has challenged us to be deliberate in how we keep those most impacted at the center of how we approach research, policy advocacy, and storytelling.

After acknowledging Woods Fund Chicago’s leadership on advocacy and equity issues, awardee John Bouman shared bits of his history (and high praise) about working with Woodstock President Dory Rand on economic security and asset-building issues at the Shriver Center and beyond. In the late 1990s, both Dory and John were working on Food Stamp and cash assistance issues. When recipients started receiving electronic benefits, the Shriver Center collaborated with Woodstock Institute and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to make the Illinois Link electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards affordable and to help cash assistance recipients understand the option of having benefits directly deposited into bank accounts. The collaboration led to a statewide, two-year financial education and asset-building program with IDHS, banks, researchers, and community organizations. Following that, the Shriver Center oversaw the first children’s savings account (CSA) program in Illinois at a public elementary school on Chicago’s South Side as part of a national demonstration program that helped lay the groundwork for the CSA bill recently approved by the Illinois General Assembly.

Woodstock and our partners in the room were moved by John and Caronina’s thoughtful, emotional remarks. Both identified the importance of their collaborations with Woodstock and our shared goal to advance equity. 

Woodstock President Dory Rand acknowledged the great work of the staff and a change in Board leadership. Effective May 2019, Board Chair George Lipsitz stepped down from the Board. We are proud to announce that former Vice Chair, and Vice President of Fifth Third Bank, Byna Elliot, was elected as our new Board Chair. Byna not only hosted our awards ceremony, but also welcomed our guests in celebration.

Woodstock’s Board of Directors also welcomed two new members: Calvin Bradford, President of Calvin Bradford & Associates, Ltd., and Tina Hone, Chief Impact Officer at YWCA Metropolitan Chicago.

Our annual Community Investment Awards reception is a fundraiser to support our Data Portal, Technical Assistance Program, and Community Lending Fact Book. The data, assistance, and information we provide helps community-based organizations and policymakers serving low- and moderate-income people understand community trends, and allocate resources and implement policies to meet community needs.

This year, we are grateful for the sponsorship of our Champions: MasterCard and US Bank; our Defenders, BankFinancial, BMO Harris, Chemical Bank, Northern Trust, and Wintrust Financial; and our Supporters, Midland States Bank, Marquette Bank, First Savings Bank of Hegewisch, Providence Bank & Trust, and Bob Ontiveros (founder and retired CEO of Group O). We also thank our generous general operating and project funders: Associated Bank, the Scheinfeld family’s Big Cat Foundation, Capital One, the Chicago Community Trust, CIBC, Citi, Fifth Third Bank, First Midwest Bank, Ford Foundation, the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Treasurer’s Charitable Trust Stabilization Fund, the Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust, the Harris Family Foundation, Huntington National Bank, JPMorgan Chase, MUFG Union Bank, Polk Bros. Foundation, the Retirement Research Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, VantageScore Solutions, and one of our honorees, Woods Fund Chicago.

We thank all who joined us to celebrate another phenomenal year in our work to advance equity! We also want to thank our staff who worked tirelessly to put the event together.