Wealthy families and principals Chicago business leaders have raised $66 million to help fund the city’s fight against crime. Donors, including the Crown and Pritzker family foundations, contributed just over 30% of the US$200 million needed for an initiative to reduce gun violence, representing more than half of the US$100 million that the business community has promised.
The Civic Committee of the Chicago Commercial Club, which includes senior leaders of companies such as McDonald’s Corp., Ulta Beauty Inc. and Morningstar Inc., is leading fundraising efforts.
The announcement comes nearly five months after the group’s public safety task force tapped Hyatt Hotels CEO Mark Hoplamazian and BMO Bank’s Eric Smith to lead the effort. The money will support an initiative backed by governments and community organizations with goals that include reducing shootings and homicides by 50% in five years and 75% in a decade.
“The business community is in complete agreement,” Hoplamazian said in a statement Thursday. “Our goal is to be the safest city in America, and to achieve this, we all need to work together for the long term and strengthen our current partnerships.”
Chicago has been battling persistent violence that has alarmed residents and businesses. Crime rates increased 16% last year and have increased 55% since 2019. While murders have decreased over the past three years, they are still 23% higher than 2019 levels, according to data from the city’s police department.
The plan, called Scaling Community Violence Intervention for a Safer Chicago or SC2, aims to serve at least half of the 20,000 Chicagoans most at risk of being shot or shot in the first five years. At the moment, only between 15% and 20% of these citizens receive support from a community violence prevention organization.
The group, which will focus on seven neighborhoods, wants to reach 75% within a decade. The work will take place in areas including East Garfield Park, Englewood and Austin, where Mayor Brandon Johnson lives.
Arne Duncan Former U.S. Secretary of Education and co-founder of an anti-gun violence nonprofit known as Chicago CRED, will be part of the SC2 steering committee.
Other donors included Builders Initiative, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Sue Ling Gin Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, Hyatt Hotels Foundation and the John & Kathleen Schreiber Foundation.
“We know that government alone cannot make Chicago safer,” Johnson said at a news conference Thursday. “We are committed to working together with community members and community organizations, philanthropy, businesses and more to unite actions to implement solutions.”