Chicago Community Trust Seeks to Fund, Cultivate Small Organizations

By Darryl Holliday on June 23, 2014 5:25am 

 The Community Trust will hold its SMART sessions throughout June and July, including a Hermosa session.
The Community Trust will hold its SMART sessions throughout June and July, including a Hermosa session.
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HERMOSA — The Chicago Community Trust is inviting small arts and cultural organizations to apply for a program that includes training to improve management skills and grants of $15,000 to $50,000 per year.

Among the goals of the program, called SMART Growth, is to help organizations operate more efficiently to enable them to pay living wages to artists and staff and "remain resilient in the face of economic and demographic shifts."

The Community Trust will hold SMART Growth Q&A sessions throughout the city in June and July, including a Hermosa session Tuesday at Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, 4046 W. Armitage Ave. from 9-10:30 a.m.

Other Q&A sessions are scheduled for:

• Hyde Park, 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave.

• Pilsen, 3-4:30 p.m. July 9 at the Chicago Urban Arts Society, 600 W. Cermak Road.

• Downtown, 1-2:30 p.m. July 17 at the trust headquarters at 225 N. Michigan Ave.

Community-based arts and cultural organizations in Cook County with operating budgets of less than $1 million are invited to apply here for the four-year SMART Growth grant program.

The program assesses critical business functions such as financial management and board governance and provides training in SMART Growth techniques. Grant winners receive three years of general operating grants, which range from $15,000 to $50,000 per year.

The Chicago Community Trust developed SMART Growth because it "believes that the strength of our region’s cultural vitality is rooted in the diverse landscape of community-based arts and cultural organizations that create affordable and accessible arts opportunities for all residents,” said Suzanne Connor, senior program officer for arts and culture for The Chicago Community Trust.

In addition to reflecting communities or art forms underrepresented in the Chicago area, applicant organizations must also meet the following criteria: 

• Status as an Illinois nonprofit with a federal 501(c )3 tax-exemption;

• Incorporation as an arts and culture organization (not a social service agency, college or university);

• Be located in and primarily serving Cook County;

• Possess an annual operating budget less than $1 million;

• Have at least one paid management staff person and a functioning volunteer board of directors.

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