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On February 29th, over 40 nonprofit leaders of color convened at Chicago Art Department in Pilsen for a kick-off celebration to share space, build community, and discuss what the future of the nonprofit world could look like. The Leaders of Color Collective is an initiative to provide executives and senior staff of color with a community, support, and access to resources in order to maximize personal potential and actualize their organizations’ missions.

This undertaking began after a series of RDLF grant assessment interviews with people of color that had recently been “promoted” to lead their organizations. What seemed clear was that although the individuals were talented and rightful holders of their new positions, their own boards, and in some cases retiring founders, were limiting their powers and exhibiting a less than welcoming and supportive backdrop to their new jobs. These new leaders of color were also regularly being met with distrust or unreasonable expectations by philanthropic organizations. 

Unfortunately, while these leaders were experiencing similar things, they didn’t have the opportunity to come together and speak about these issues as a group. This is when the RDLF Board and Staff decided they should step in as resource partner to assist in community building and advocacy.

Jamyle Cannon, RDLF board member and Executive Director of The Bloc, joined the initiative and was a great asset in evolving the mission and bringing folks together by leveraging his unique position in the nonprofit community. Jamyle’s network and connections helped to bring in a diverse group of leaders to this well-attended inaugural gathering.

At the event, Jamyle talked about how nonprofit leaders of color often feel like they’re pitted against each other as competitors, rather than celebrated as leaders of their communities. A group discussion highlighted how it felt to be in a room full of other leaders of color, what the participants wanted funders to know, and what they wanted other nonprofits to know.

There was a lot of passion and energy in the room from both young and seasoned leaders. Across the wide variety of different organizations, identities, and experiences, everyone agreed that the simple act of convening felt supportive and beneficial. “Pride”, “gratitude”, “comfort”, “worthiness”, and “curiosity” were words used to describe being in community with their peers.  

Leaders spoke about how philanthropic funding practices take away from the actual work, and how organizations are often forced to act with a “scarcity mindset”. They agreed that they don’t want to maintain the status quo, and that perhaps change could be possible when organizations act together. What it would mean to act together, and with what goals, is something that they hope to explore in future events.

Attendees have also shared that they don’t want this to be the only event. There were ideas circulating about meeting quarterly, doing round table and panel discussions, and creating shared resources. There have been enough convenings that felt like empty talk—the hope is that this initiative can bring a shared and continuing vision to fruition. 

While supported by the RDLF*, the Leaders of Color Collective is not restricted to current grantees and partners. It is open to all nonprofit leaders of color in the Chicago area. If you’re interested in learning more or participating in future events, please reach out to jessica(at)logafdn(dot)org.

*The whole Team at the RDLF made contributions to the success of this convening, but we make special mention of Jessica Jones-Lewis, Preeti Veerlapati, Sabrina Boggs and Mustafa Abdul Maboud.

Group photo at the Leaders of Color Collective event.
The RDLF team in front of a C2C canvas.

In February, The Reva and David Logan Foundation (RDLF) team volunteered at the Cradles to Crayons (C2C) warehouse, otherwise known as The Giving Factory, to pack donated clothes for infants and children.

At the start of our shift, C2C volunteer leaders emphasized that Quality = Dignity, and instructed us on what that means when packing clothes. Every volunteer performs quality checks on donated clothing – if they wouldn’t gift it to their niece or nephew, then it gets set aside for textile recycling. No donation goes to waste. C2C is also conscientious about the content on clothing – any words or phrases about a family member are omitted from the packing pile, because it would be careless to assume a child’s family dynamics.

Members of our team split up into different stations with bins of shirts, pants, sweaters, and dresses. We curated and packed outfit combinations according to C2C’s instructions, with each set containing enough clothes for one week. Some team members took the style and aesthetic of each set very seriously, while others focused on efficiency – but everyone clearly enjoyed contributing to C2C’s mission. At the end of our two-hour shift, C2C reported that we, along with another set of volunteers, had packed enough clothing sets for 140 children.

The clothes packed by volunteers are distributed to children throughout the community through C2C’s network of service partners, which includes over 60 nonprofit organizations and churches in Chicago. In 2022, they reached 219,000 children.

Outside of volunteering, the RDLF has supported C2C since 2019 through general operating grants. We also provided emergency funding during the pandemic, when the needs of those they serve skyrocketed. In just the few years that we’ve partnered with them, they’ve set ambitious goals and doubled the amount of children they serve. This year, we will also partner with C2C for part of our Winter Wear Program in order to increase our impact on children in elementary schools.

Read more about volunteer shifts and sign up with C2C here.

Dion Dawson, Monica Thompson, Mayor Brandon Johnson, Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th) and State Rep. Sonya Harper (D-Chicago) pose with a big $10,000 check from Dion's Chicago Dream, sponsored by Amazon.

On February 1st, our partner Dion’s Chicago Dream celebrated their one-millionth pound of delivered fresh produce with a surprise visit to one of their first participants.

Monica Thompson is a mom, accountant, Englewood resident, and one of the first neighbors who signed up for free fresh produce when Dion’s Chicago Dream began in 2020. When she came downstairs that morning, she thought she would just be receiving another delivery.

But in addition to the one-millionth pound of fresh produce, Thompson received a $10,000 check sponsored by Amazon, $1,000 for groceries at Save-A-Lot, a personalized Chicago Bulls jersey with a VIP ticket package, and swag bags from supporters of Dion’s Chicago Dream. 

Team member in a gray hoodie holds up the one-millionth pound of fresh produce, later handing it to Thompson.

Dion Dawson, Chief Dreamer, was joined by Mayor Johnson, Alderwoman Stephanie Coleman (16th), State Representative Sonya Harper (D-Chicago) and dozens of neighbors to present the awards. When Thompson heard what she would be receiving, she erupted in a cheer and happy tears. “I thank God for Dion’s Dream,” Thompson said.

She plans to use the $10,000 toward a down payment on a property so that she can rent to other neighbors in need.

Program Officer Lyle Allen and Administrator Paulina Plewa from the Foundation were present to cheer on this massive achievement. They were uplifted by the lively atmosphere of people chatting, re-connecting or meeting anew, and brainstorming new partnerships. It was “inspiring to experience and share this moment with friends and colleagues in solidarity,” Lyle wrote.

The Reva and David Logan Foundation has supported Dion’s Chicago Dream since 2021. Most recently, we invested in a 20,000 square-foot property in Englewood for the organization, which they are converting into a distribution center and community space. We are excited to continue supporting them as they fight food insecurity with their unique approach to community outreach.

Thompson mimicked shooting a basketball and said “Swish!” as she was presented with her jersey.

Read Dion’s reflection on this recent milestone in his op-ed for Common Dreams: “How to Solve Food Insecurity? Treat Healthy Food as a Human Right.”

2023 was a fruitful year for The Reva and David Logan Foundation (RDLF). Our small and mighty team awarded over $9 million in grants to 83 organizations; donated almost $2 million in in-kind goods to 70 nonprofit partners; rescued almost 127,000 pounds of food from corporate partners and redistributed it all to those in need; and invested in two more properties to provide organizations with physical space, which was critical for their missions. (Read the complete details here.)

But it’s not all about us. Our grantees and partners are excelling at creating lasting change, and we are constantly inspired by the work they do. While we’d love to list every accomplishment and memorable moment, the following is a brief recap of the team’s highlights for 2023.

Arts

Our arts grantees are challenging prevalent norms throughout the nonprofit sector by prioritizing equitable wages and expanding access to the arts. South Chicago Dance Theater began providing health insurance for their dancers—something we hope becomes less rare for performing artists across the industry. Roman Susan Art Foundation and Red Line Service joined our grantee 3Arts in becoming W.A.G.E. certified. Chicago Dancemakers Forum piloted their DanceChance program, which provides the lowest barrier to entry for independent dancers to be paid for their creative process. And for the first time in their five-year history, OTV expanded their fellowship internationally in their mission to prioritize intersectional writers, directors, and producers from marginalized communities. 

OTV

In addition, we were pleased to see Deeply Rooted Dance Theater get their well-deserved flowers. When we met with their leadership in the spring of 2023, we knew that they deserved much more recognition than they had been getting in the years before. We invited them to apply for a five-year grant because we wanted to tangibly demonstrate our trust in them. By the end of 2023, they began providing health insurance and retirement plans to their employees, raised over $14 million toward their capital campaign, and received overwhelmingly positive recognition in the news (see Crain’s Chicago BusinessChicago TribuneChicago Reader for just a few examples). Their productions match up to their stellar leadership. Program Officer Jessica Jones-Lewis went to see their November performance and was deeply moved by the skill, expression, and storytelling of their pieces.

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater

Social Justice

Within our social justice portfolio are a wide array of organizations providing direct service in areas such as housing, education, food security, community health, and more. When we meet with many of these grantees, their clients are often eager to give testimonies about how their lives have been changed for the better. In 2023, we saw our grantees’ impact reach even farther. Sista Afya was able to build administrative capacity with RDLF funding, which allowed them to provide mental health services to more women than ever before. Youth Crossroads was able to support an additional community counselor, allowing them to serve students outside of schools and their families. RDLF’s thought partnership played an important role for Global Garden Refugee Training Farm (GGRTF)–when Founder Linda Seyler retired, Program Officer Lyle Allen began weekly check-ins with new Executive Director Haley LeRand to provide guidance with her transition and GGRTF’s future.

We have also been excited about our organizing grantees, who have been working on the ground toward systemic change. Illinois Prison Project (IPP) launched The Hope Project, which in its first year has already resulted in the release of five clients. IPP also introduced a felony-murder reform bill in the Illinois House of Representatives. Kenwood Oakland Community Organization worked with seniors to establish a Bill of Rights surrounding decent living conditions and equitable treatment. Healing to Action hosted over 500 conversations with community members that raised awareness about gender-based violence, and engaged 120 people in pushing the school district to implement a sex-ed curriculum. We saw a few leaders recognized for this work and appointed to City task force and committee positions, including Karla Altmayer from Healing to Action and Jianan Shi from Raise Your Hand IL. 

Journalism

We were pleased to see many of our journalism grantees at the Investigative Reporting Program’s 2023 Logan Symposium. The panels stood out not only for highlighting outstanding work in investigative journalism, but also for urging those in attendance to do better when it comes to the treatment of sources and whistleblowers, and scrutinizing information that is provided by law enforcement. Our grantees participated on panels and networked outside of events, and some of those meetings led to deeper connections and shared projects. Rahsaan Thomas from Empowerment Avenue and Jesse Vasquez from Pollen Initiative, both formerly incarcerated individuals, shared a panel and tackled issues journalists face when covering prisons. Trevor Timm from Freedom of the Press Foundation spoke with Daniel Ellsberg and Reality Winner about challenges whistleblowers face in the United States. Post the symposium, several of our grantees are holding regular monthly meetings to share ideas and support.

Richard and Crystal Logan were also able to attend the 2023 Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden. They saw over 2000 journalists, and met with funders and interested parties to talk about achievements, challenges and plans for the future. Many of our worldwide grantees were present.

Program Officer Germán Castañeda attended the Double Exposure Film Festival and Symposium, where attendees gained insight into the often years-long process to make these films, about the dangers faced by some of the creators, and of the myriad of choices made that are often not considered by viewers.

IRP Logan Symposium. Photo credit: Noe Magaña.
Global Investigative Journalism Conference. Photo credit: Fojo

Outside of symposiums, our grantees have been making waves in the world of investigative journalism this year. Organizations that we funded when they could still be considered “start-ups,” like El Tímpano and New York Focus, amassed huge success and connections with big funders. Several of our grantees won award after award for their critical reporting–for example, Reveal took home 3 National Edward R. Murrow Awards, which is a significant number compared to the organization’s size. Many of our grantees found innovative ways to reach a multi-media audience, such as how Investigate Midwest created a WhatsApp community for their audience of immigrants and farmworkers. And we saw direct impact from our grantees’ efforts, whether it was retaliation from the government (see: “Disclose journalist taken into custody“), or hundreds of community members coming together to support a cause (see: “Bristol raises £10k for Barton House residents in 48hrs“).

Physical Space

In 2023, we celebrated our grantees who opened or broke ground on new spaces. Impact Behavioral Health Partners’ Lanam Rapp building offers 16 individual units for people living with serious mental illness; The Boulevard’s rebuilt east wing restores capacity for their innovative health programming; and Sarah’s Circle soon-to-be third building will provide 28 apartments for women experiencing homelessness.

But for some organizations, the cost of renting or buying a physical space can strain budgets and stunt growth. The RDLF has purchased properties across the city as a direct and tangible investment into these organizations. In 2023, we saw several of our partners make great strides in enriching communities with the infrastructure we provided.

One unforgettable success: Port of Entry opened its doors in the summer to a raving audience. The RDLF purchased the building for Albany Park Theater Project’s production and toured the space while it was still under construction in May. The amount of creativity poured into each and every room was breathtaking, and the show itself was both heart-wrenching and inspiring. But what makes this investment even more meaningful is how it centers Albany Park. The production employed Albany Park youth and community members throughout the entirety of the production, and many of the since-graduated high school seniors are continuing to support Port of Entry as interns, staff, and performers. 

Each of the sets and the props within Port of Entry were carefully crafted to complement each family’s story. Photo credit: Eric Strom and Sarah Joyce

When we provided Onward Neighborhood House their second location in Belmont Cragin, a 30,000 square foot warehouse, it was because we saw them bursting at the seams trying to meet the needs of their neighborhood. While the building is not yet fully operational, they have wasted no time utilizing the space. In August they held the largest event in their 129-year history in the warehouse parking lot, providing fresh produce, clothes, health screenings, and much more. 

Meanwhile, Taskforce Prevention & Community Services is settling in to the new home we secured in Austin. We are excited to see them expand their medical and wellness services; a food program; and in particular The Vogue School, where LGBTQ youth can express themselves through dance while being engaged in affirming healthcare. It’s still a work in progress, but when the RDLF team visited them during a winter wear distribution, they were met with a whirlwind of evening activities and a trusting, loving community. 

Onward House staff prepare loads of fresh produce for their community.
Sabrina [left] poses with Taskforce staff after
a winter wear distribution.

In-Kind

2023 was a big year for our in-kind programs. Our Fresh Produce Program embraced 50+ regional farmers, sourcing 400,000+ pounds of produce that reached tens of thousands of individuals. Our Winter Wear Program provided $1.5 million worth of coats, boots, and other winter essentials to 47 different neighborhoods and thousands of individuals in need, including many new arrivals who have never seen a Chicago winter. And our Rescue & Redistribution Program blossomed into a full-fledged operation, allowing us to provide tons of food that would have otherwise gone to waste to nonprofit organizations and their communities. 

Fresh Produce
Winter Wear
Rescue & Redistribution

None of this would be possible, however, without our partners and volunteers. Whether it’s by connecting us with new organizations, holding distribution events, unloading donations, or making use of even the oddest goods we’ve received, our partners and volunteers are a huge component of our in-kind operations. No matter the weather or the task, they’ve demonstrated an immense dedication to supporting those in need. 

One notable superstar is community activist, René White. Working with René across all three of our in-kind programs has been an honor for the whole team. Her unwavering dedication, creative approaches, positivity, and generosity of spirit are an inspiration to everyone she meets. For decades she has been running pop-up distributions across the south side to provide fresh produce, clothes, and other necessities. In 2023 alone, the pop-ups René ran in partnership with the RDLF provided at least $200,000 worth in goods to the south side community.

Mustafa Abdul-Maboud and René White at a pop-up site – it takes two to tango.

Working with our partners and volunteers has been an inspiring experience for our staff. We gain new perspectives from all those working on the ground and we learn from each other the best ways to deliver the mission. This process has influenced not only our in-kind work but our grantmaking as well, as we think about our role in assisting our grantees to reach their fullest potential. 

We plan to do even better in 2024. We hope all our readers have a great year!

Photo credit: René White

Each year, The Reva and David Logan Foundation aims to help our elders, families, neighbors facing unstable housing, students in temporary living situations, refugees, and other vulnerable folks to survive the cold of the Chicago winter with dignity with our Winter Wear program. Through the program, we provide nonprofit organizations throughout Chicagoland with winter gear to distribute to their communities. This year, the total request from partnering organizations was double our allotted budget, demonstrating an overwhelming need for this program.

Spearheaded by Senior Program Officer Jessie Mott, the RDLF staff remains passionately committed to this program each year, devoting significant time to organizing orders and shipments with our wholesale vendor partner Dollar Days as well as volunteering at distribution events. The true stars of the show are our many partners, who cumulatively reach thousands of people in need in the Chicagoland area through their distributions. 

From the events that our staff were able to attend this year, it was clear that our partners deeply love and respect the communities they serve. Events were full of warmth and excitement, and several distributions were paired with free meals and fresh food to share together. Those at the distributions got to take their time perusing all of the winter gear (coats, boots, thermals, gloves, hats, scarves and more), making sure they had the right fit for what is sure to be another bone-chilling winter season.

Several smiling people in front of a colorful mural at a Taskforce Winter Wear distribution event.
Administrator Sabrina Boggs and Taskforce staff.
Three smiling women at a CHA Winter Wear distribution event.
CEO Tracy Scott of CHA, a CHA resident, and Senior Program Officer Jessie Mott.
Quick Facts:
  • Budget of $1.48 million
  • 59 unique organizations
  • 70 distribution locations
  • 47 communities reached in the North, West, Central, and South sides of Chicago, as well as surrounding suburbs
This map does not include sites in the South suburbs (Blue Island and Harvey), West suburbs, or North suburbs.
Background

In the winter of 2017, RDLF provided funding for all 72 residents of North Side Housing and Supportive Services’ (NSHSS) emergency Uptown shelter, a grantee partner, to go shopping at a local store to try on and select their own pair of winter boots. 

In 2018, once Senior Program Officer Jessie Mott came on board, the RDLF began to devise a plan to scale up the winter weather offerings to include other grantee partners and products such as coats, hats, gloves, etc. Another partner of ours, Cradles to Crayons Chicago, introduced us to the wholesale vendors that provided their winter products. We researched them and sampled their warmest coats. 

We ultimately selected DollarDays as our vendor partner and have continued to work with them each year.

Since 2019, the RDLF has been designing and distributing survey “wish lists” to a growing list of partners that include current grantees, mutual aid groups, CPS schools, food pantries, and churches. 

With our growing team, the process has become more collaborative and refined. We are currently revising the survey to capture more of the information needed on the front end to allow for seamless accounting post-distribution. 

What was the catalyst for starting this program?

Jessie: It should go without saying that here we believe everyone deserves the right to be protected from the cold, have access to healthy food, and a safe place to live. While RDLF’s strategic grantmaking has its eye on systems change, we cannot ignore that thousands of our very own neighbors are unhoused, hungry, and struggling to stay warm during these brutal Chicago winters. The program began with a single grantee that operated a men’s shelter in Uptown, and now we have extended the program to the majority of our partners who work with unhoused children and adults as well as various other groups.

How has the need for this program evolved over the years?

Jessie: The need continues to grow exponentially. Of the 70,000 (conservatively speaking) unhoused people in Chicago coupled with the influx of recent migrants, we realize there is no way for us to solve the issue alone. We can, however, do our part by connecting with our trusted partners and their networks to reach some of the city’s most vulnerable people and provide them with brand new, attractive, warm clothing that don’t look like donations.

What are your goals for next year’s program?

Jessie: We hope to find other funders who can collaborate with us in the future, primarily through financial contribution, to expand the program. We have done extensive research and know how to reach some of the hardest to reach. With additional support, we can leverage our networks to provide warm clothing to thousands more. 

How can other people help?

Jessie: We’d love to talk to other foundation or corporations who’d like to learn more about our work and get involved. For instance, there could be opportunities to “sponsor” some of our winter program partners to ensure that their wish lists are fulfilled. We do our best to fulfill each order in its entirety, but unsurprisingly, the budget is exceeded very quickly.

From our Winter Wear 2023 partners:

Picture of the "courtyard" at Port of Entry.
Photo credit: Albany Park Theater Project

This month, the RDLF team saw a performance of Albany Park Theater Project‘s “Port of Entry.” This immersive theater performance, shown to only 28 audience members at a time, takes guests through a three-story apartment building in Albany Park to experience the joys and struggles of one of the world’s most diverse immigrant communities. So far, the performance has received rave reviews from the Chicago Tribune, No Proscenium, and the Chicago Reader, as well as profiles in American Theatre, New City Stage, and the Chicago Sun-Times.

In addition to this being a very special show, it was an especially anticipated event for our team who have been engaged with this project since it was in its early planning stages. Preeti Veerlapati, Operations Manager, attended a work-in-progress performance in 2019 which began our discussions to help find and purchase a building for Port of Entry (the Fernstrom Fireproof Storage Building on Montrose). Foundation staff and board walked through the building in May while it was still under construction, with papers taped to the walls detailing their vision to come. It was exciting and emotional to see the dream become reality.

Port of Entry rightfully earned sold-out summer and fall seasons, and will take a winter break before coming back for a new season in 2024. Tickets sell out quickly, so we recommend following them on social media to stay up to date on the next opportunity to attend one of their performances.

Picture of walls covered floor to ceiling with artwork from Project Onward's artists.

Photo credit: Project Onward

Meet Project Onward, one of our newest grantees. Senior Program Officer Jessie Mott first discovered the organization when she saw an amazing drawing of a vicious poodle by George Zuniga, one of their artists, hanging in a friend’s home. Since we began our partnership less than a year ago, we’ve been impressed with not only the enchanting and prolific artwork coming from their studios, but also the holistic care of their artists, who they regard as family.

Project Onward launched in 2004 out of a need for artists with disabilities to have a safe, supportive space to thrive creatively, experiment with new materials, tell their stories, and exhibit and sell their work. They support the endeavors of more than 60 artists, many of whom live on low incomes and would otherwise struggle to afford studio space and supplies. There is no cost for artists to be a part of Project Onward except for a 50/50 split of sales (half to the artists directly and half back into the program). All of the artists demonstrate immense talent, and their art has received accolades and been exhibited across Chicago, the United States, and internationally.

“Angler Fish,” C. Kappel
“Haunted House,” R. Willis
“Path to the Underworld,” F. Ramirez

When we first met with the team at Project Onward, they expressed a need from the artists for more individualized support. In response, we awarded a grant for a staff position whose primary responsibility would be to coordinate internal and external support services for artists. Kim Jacobs, LCPC took on the Case Manager position after having regularly volunteered with the organization. In an email to our team, however, Kim said that she doesn’t consider herself just a Case Manager. “Depending on my day,” she said, “I can wear many hats.”

Assistance with getting a gas bill reduced; finding and touring assisted living facilities; advocating at a nursing home about declining hygiene; finding new therapists or psychiatrists; food insecurity; applying for social security; as well as counseling regarding feelings of frustration about inability to find a significant other, or that another artist is too loud, or dealing with dysfunctional family members. These are just some of the challenges that Kim has supported artists through lately, and both artists and studio staff are grateful.

“In general,” Kim said, “my being here regularly has allowed our studio staff to better focus on the art. When a home, health, or mental wellbeing issue or emergency arises, studio staff no longer have to step out of their roles and become counselors, when they did not always feel comfortable assuming that role.” All in all, Kim’s role seems to be fostering even more synergy for the studio, which already had a strong sense of energy and community. The artists have more capacity to reach their full creative potential, and the studio staff have more capacity to foster their artistic careers.

Project Onward artist working on artwork.
NoonSlaps painting an installation for “Bouncy House.”
Project Onward artists at their Wisconsin retreat.
Project Onward at their annual artist retreat in Wisconsin.

When speaking with Nancy Gomez, Executive Director of Project Onward, it was inspiring to hear her talk about the artists. The warmth and admiration she feels for each and every one of them is tangible. She challenges people who expect the artwork to reflect the artists’ disability, and mentioned that when we look at Frida Kahlo’s art, we think of her as one of the greatest artists in history — not as a disabled person. Everyone has their own limitations, visible or not. Regardless, the unique languages, technical skills, and sense of vision the Project Onward artists have are incredible. Nancy, and the team at the RDLF, believe their art should be recognized for those qualities above all.

See more about Project Onward:

“The Fish Eaters (After Van Gogh),” R. Bradford

Alejandra Xanic, co-founder of the RDLF grantee Quinto Elemento, recently spoke to LatAm Journalism Review about the current challenges of journalists in Mexico.

Alejandra Xanic smiles slightly at the camera. The backdrop is heavily blurred trees and a blue sky.
Photo credit: Under the Volcano

“I believe we journalists in Mexico face a daily smear campaign that is affecting the way people receive us at home,” said Xanic.

Alejandra Xanic co-founded Quinto Elemento, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization that seeks to combat corruption and impunity in Mexico. She was the director for 5 years before she stepped down to instead serve as Editor in Chief and co-coordinator of MásterLAB, Quinto Elemento’s pioneer training program for investigative editors in Mexico.

In her over 30 years as a reporter, Xanic has been no stranger to success. She won Mexico’s National Journalism Award in 1992 for her coverage of gasoline explosions that destroyed over 8 miles of streets in Guadalajara, which had been predicted in advance. In 2013, she received the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting along with David Barstow for their reports on how Wal-Mart used widespread bribery to dominate the market in Mexico, forcing them to publicly announce their future efforts to prevent bribery and corruption. The next year she went on to win the 2014 ICFJ Knight International Journalism Award, and this year she won the 2023 Maria Moors Cabot Prize for outstanding reporting on the Americas.

Xanic talking into a mic and gesturing her open palm forward during a talk for CANAL CUPE.
Photo credit: CANAL CUPE on Youtube

In LatAm Journalism Review’s article published last month, Xanic lists the challenges that journalists face in Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. She states that in the current technological environment, “social media violence should be considered as much of a threat as physical violence … as the former can translate into the latter.”

She goes on to paint a vivid picture of the effect journalism has in Mexico and strategies to protect its future, including the work she’s doing with MásterLAB.

Read more about Alejandra Xanic and Quinto Elemento:

The RDLF is proud to support Quinto Elemento. In addition to their quality investigative journalism, their collaborative approach demonstrates that journalists can accomplish more when they work together.

A graphic with a blue backdrop, two silhouettes of people drawing yellow and red stars, and the Quinto Elemento logo.

On Tuesday, September 19th, Disclose journalist Ariane Lavrilleux was taken into custody and her home searched by the French special intelligence service (DGSI). Disclose and other prominent journalism organizations are rallying behind this clear symbol of intimidation.

According to Disclose, the French special intelligence service “took the journalist into custody as part of an investigation into compromising national defence secrets and revealing information that could lead to the identification of a protected agent, which was opened in July 2022.” Lavrilleux is a co-author of the “Egypt Papers” series of investigations, revealing through hundreds of classified documents that France was complicit in multiple war crimes in Egypt. It is assumed that the DGSI wants to identify the sources who helped reveal the Sirli military operation in Egypt, which carried out aerial strikes against civilians.

Lavrilleux’s lawyer Virginie Marquet said, “I am appalled and worried about the escalation in attacks on the freedom to inform, and the coercive measures taken against the Disclose journalist.”

Journalist organizations around the world are rightfully denouncing the actions of the DGSI, as there is widespread international recognition that the confidentiality of sources should be protected.

Update 9/21/23: Lavrilleux was released on Wednesday evening after over 24 hours in detention.

Watch “Operation Sirli : France’s complicity in state crimes in Egypt” on Youtube

Jennifer Nelson-Seals, former Interfaith House & The Boulevard CEO, cuts the green ribbon on the door of the new conference room.
Photo credit: Jessie Mott

On September 13, our grantee partner The Boulevard of Chicago hosted an open house & dedication reception event to celebrate the rebuild of their facility’s east wing and dedicate the conference room in honor of Jennifer Nelson-Seals, former Interfaith House & Boulevard CEO. Current CEO, Richard Ducatenzeiler, and Board President, Christy Weimer, proudly welcomed attendees into the beautiful new space. Although Mayor Johnson was unable to attend in person, he recorded a video for guests to provide his well wishes and enthusiastic support for Jennifer’s legacy of leadership and The Boulevard’s innovative health programming. 

“I want to join the chorus of voices today who are thanking and congratulating Jennifer Nelson Seals,” Mayor Johnson said. “Thank you for 25 years of incredible leadership as the CEO of The Boulevard. The amount of good that you have done in that time is, no doubt, immeasurable. The Boulevard is an amazing organization and a critical lifeline to so many of our families and brothers and sisters in Chicago. Thank you to this entire team, who is creating positive ripple effects all across our city. … I am wishing you many more impactful and successful years as an organization.”

In July 2021, a fire completely destroyed the east side of The Boulevard’s residential facility where their program offices were located. The building had suffered extensive structural damage and needed to be completely gutted. Thankfully, no one was injured. 

Poster with the text: "'After fire destroys West Humboldt Park homeless shelter's offices, organization vows to rebuild. No one was injured in the fire, but it was "extremely traumatizing" for residents of the shelter. One of the organization's leaders said neighbors looking to help can donate to the organization online.' The Block Club, Chicago July 9, 2021." Poster also shows four pictures of the fire that occurred at The Boulevard and the destruction it left.
Poster with six photos showing the reconstruction of The Boulevard's residential facility and offices.

The Boulevard is an ADA-accessible residential facility that accepts unhoused adults who need time and a safe, clean place to complete their recovery from an acute medical condition. 

“We’ve serviced so many souls who came through this door,” Jennifer said to an audience outside the new facilities. “Our success was different with each and every one that came through. Success looked like, they’d eat a meal. Success looked like, they were able to talk to their case manager. Success may have looked like, they went to their doctor’s appointment and started trusting their doctor. … And every person that walked through the door, I tell you, the staff, the board of directors, all played a key role in making sure that their living was not in vain.”

Plaque that says: "Jennifer Nelson-Seals Conference Room. In Appreciation and Recognition of her 26 years of tireless passion and commitment to Interfaith House/The Boulevard and to those who have called it home. Commemorated on September 13, 2023."