Making A Difference

8 Chicago-Area Nonprofits Win $315K in Project Innovation Grants

NBC 5, Telemundo Chicago and Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation awarded $315,000 in Project Innovation grants to eight nonprofits in the Chicago area. See the winners below.

NBC 5, Telemundo Chicago and the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation on Wednesday announced that eight local nonprofits will receive a total of $315,000 in Project Innovations 2021 grants.

The winning organizations feature programs that are addressing local community issues through innovative solutions in the areas of community engagement, culture of inclusion, next generation storytelling and youth education and empowerment.

This is the fourth consecutive year that NBC 5 and Telemundo Chicago along with the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation recognize local nonprofits with Project Innovation grants. Since 2018, 23 Chicago-area organizations have received a total of $990,000 through the grant challenge.

"We are honored to invest in these inspirational programs and share their stories on our platforms in English and Spanish," said David Doebler, NBC 5 and Telemundo Chicago President and General Manager. "Chicago-area organizations are shining bright and making a difference. We are grateful for their commitment to our community."

Local Project Innovation 2021 grant recipients include:    

Always Giving Back Foundation - $40,000

The AGB Foundation Scholars program offers college scholarships and mentors to underrepresented high school students, many of which are the first in their families to attend higher education. The grant money will expand the mentor model to ensure four years+ of support for each Scholar.   

Chicago Training Center - $40,000

Chicago Training Center's Neighborhood Rowing program teaches middle and high school students rowing through partnerships with community organizations and schools. Through the program students learn a new sport and valuable life leadership lessons that extend beyond the water. With the grant money the program will expand and target Chicago neighborhoods with children at risk.

CreatiVets - $40,000

The Introduction to Art for Wounded Veterans course teaches veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury to use concept-based art to tell their stories. In partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), and other local art organizations, CreatiVets introduces veterans of all ages to the college experience in an all-veteran environment that makes them feel comfortable and enables them to see their own capacity for success in an educational environment.

Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund - $30,000

Each year, Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund selects students who have great potential but whose families lack the financial resources to send them to college preparatory high schools. The Complete the Circle program offers the students financial assistance to attend a local partner high school that offers the rigorous academic experiences and opportunities required by most colleges.  The grant challenge money will deliver fresh diversity training for program education coordinators, provide mental health workshops for students of color, and provide cultural and language-relevant materials for local Spanish, Ukrainian and Polish speaking communities.

Firebird Community Arts - $30,000

The organization’s Project FIRE program is a year-round artist development and trauma recovery program for youth injured by gun violence in partnership with Healing Hurt People-Chicago. Youth meet twice a week to learn glassblowing and attend trauma support groups while also receiving mentoring, employment, a hot meal, transit support and access to wrap around services. The non-profit will use its grant funding to add an entrepreneurship component to Project FIRE allowing participants who have moved beyond their acute trauma and gained sufficient glassblowing skills to continue to have stable employment and connect to the organization’s networks of support.

Full Spectrum Features Nfp - $65,000

The Chicago Independent Producers Lab (CIPL) is a 9-month talent and content development program that nurtures underrepresented film producers and helps to bring their projects to production viability. By partnering with prominent industry professionals, CIPL connects participants to mentors and essential resources.  With the grant money the Lab will increase focus on racial and structural equity and enhance diversity outreach efforts.

Humanity Rising, Inc. - $30,000

The Humanity Rising "What Causes Inspire You?" podcasts elevate youth voices to inspire their peers through community service. Podcast ambassadors interview service leaders about their projects and provide a platform to spread youth-led solutions throughout the community.

Viator House of Hospitality - $40,000

Viator House of Hospitality’s Young Immigrant Education Program provides education to asylum-seeking teens placed in the organization's group homes after leaving detention. Should the teens be granted legal relief and allowed to remain in the U.S., the grant challenge money will help expand partnerships and education opportunities for the teens to pursue careers in computer engineering, nursing, medical technology, and business.

Project Innovation is presented by the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation and NBC and Telemundo owned stations located in 11 markets, including Chicago. Grant applications opened Jan. 8 and closed on Feb. 12. The stations created and gathered community panels to review grant applications and select final grant recipients. This year, the program funding levels increased in each participating market to $315,000 up from $225,000 and to $3.475 million across the 11 markets, up from $2.475 million.  

Project Innovation 2021 grants were presented to eligible nonprofits in select markets including New York (WNBC, WNJU), Southern California (KNBC, KVEA), Chicago (WMAQ, WSNS), Philadelphia (WCAU, WWSI), Dallas-Fort Worth (KXAS, KXTX), Boston (WBTS, WNEU, necn), Hartford, CT (WVIT, WRDM), Washington, D.C. (WRC-TV, WZDC), Miami-Fort Lauderdale (WTVJ, WSCV), San Francisco Bay Area (KNTV, KSTS), and San Diego (KNSD, KUAN). 

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