A Civic Plan to Mobilize Community

Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) is celebrating its 30th birthday by leading a city-wide effort to identify the most pressing issues facing women and girls in Chicago and, more importantly, by developing a broad plan with specific strategies that will help women and girls overcome the barriers created by the identified issues. This will be no small feat; but this is exactly what CFW is all about. Since 1985, CFW has awarded more than 3,000 grants totaling nearly $24 million. These grants -- which focus on economic security, access to healthcare and freedom from violence -- have helped thousands of women who, in turn, become philanthropists in their own right.

Chicago has a history of big plans. From the Burnham Plan of 1909, which underpins the beauty of our city's lakefront, cultural attractions and park system, to the Cultural Plan of 2012, which outlines cultural development for the city, Chicago makes no small plans for its future. And it's not really a choice -- we have to do it. Especially now, as our community faces the fiscal and political limits of municipal, state and federal governments, civic engagement by all stakeholders is not optional.

Now is the time to articulate and implement a bold Civic Plan to enhance the lives of our women and girls. The Civic Plan: CFW's Call to Action for Elevating Women and Girls will be released in the fall of this year. This plan will raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities for women and girls throughout our region. Over the upcoming months, CFW will gather insights from civic leaders, community leaders, agencies and Chicagoans at salons and through online surveys sent throughout the community. Results of these meetings and surveys will form the basis for the plan, identifying goals, benchmarks and specific strategies to improve economic security and access to health care, and eliminate violence for all of the women and girls of Chicago.

The full Civic Plan will be released at our 30th Anniversary Symposium and Luncheon on September 29. But, this will only be the beginning. CFW will continue to play a key role in realizing the plan's solutions. And, we promise to track progress on key indicators annually.

And to borrow from Mr. Burnham, we promise no small plans.

So, hopefully at this point you are asking, "What can I do?"

Well, we hear a lot about challenges women face in their economic security, health, safety, education, gender equity. We want to hear your thoughts on these challenges, and more importantly, creative solutions that you and others can advance to support women and girls.

What issues matter most to you? What type of community do you want to see for women and girls? What can you do to realize that vision?

You can also host a "Salon for Solutions." Invite guests to follow up and expand on ideas. Focus on generating solutions. Here's a toolkit to help you get started.