[This post reprinted from Burners Without Borders.]
Chicago’s annual Burners Without Borders fundraiser, ‘The BWB Winter Ball’, was a night to remember for all of the organizers, artists, volunteers, and participants who made it such a huge success. It was a night filled with art, food & performances; an evening exploring how artists can contribute their gifts in meaningful ways to their local communities.
The fundraiser was held to support the ‘Chicago Community Grant Program’: a collaboration between the local BWB chapter and Chicago’s burner-run arts & culture 501c3 Bold Urban Renaissance Network (BURN) that started in 2012. Based loosely on ‘The Sunday Soup’ model, the program is an experiment in opening up the grant selection process by allowing community members to vote for the grant winners themselves. Twice a year, a salon event is held where four civic projects are invited to come and give a ten minute pitch explaining their ideas and the audience follows up with a five minute Q&A session. After the pitch session everyone is served a delicious meal and has the chance to cast one vote that decides that evenings winners. After three years and six cycles, the program continues to exist as an enriching community event and vital funding model for grassroots initiative.
(Read more about the program here.)
The BWB Winter Ball was conceptualized to be the main fundraiser for this program, and such a successful event shows that the local community believes in what’s been happening. This year’s fundraiser brought a 338% increase in earnings compared to the year prior. Another way to put this success into context is to consider that BWB Chicago raised more money on this single night than they’ve been able to give away over the past three years of the entire grant program’s existence. After expenses just under eight thousand dollars was raised!
So what does this mean for BWB Chicago and the Chicago Community Grant Program? The ability to have more impact! The program is looking at expanding in size, awarded grant amount, and number of grants given. Implementing a completely new microloan program for business focused projects is also under consideration.
Curious where the funding goes? Take a look at our 2015 Honored Projects:
Jakmel Ekpresyon – (www.facebook.com/JakmelEkspresyon)
Slow + Roll Chicago – (www.facebook.com/SlowRollChicago)
Free write Jail Arts – (www.facebook.com/freewritejailarts)
Share Your Soles – (www.facebook.com/ShareYourSoles)
Consensus Chicago – (www.facebook.com/consensuschicago)
Why Not Here? – (www.facebook.com/quinncommunitycenter)
Follow the Alphabet Road – (http://marylyonschool.com/)
Kedzie Carroll Garden – (www.facebook.com/TheKedzieStop)
Keep in Touch with Burners-without-Borders Chicago:
www.facebook.com/bwbchicago / Civicgrants@boldurban.org