Do you wonder what our new Mayor thinks about the work of Chicago nonprofits? He stopped by the Axelson Center's 12th Annual Symposium on Tuesday, May 17 to give us a glimpse of what he's thinking about the future of the Chicago nonprofit sector. And he introduced his colleague - our closing plenary speaker - Darell Hammond, of KaBOOM!
In his remarks, Mayor Emanuel talked about strategies to increase efficiencies in Chicago government that will provide additional resources for nonprofits in Chicago. He said that about $2B of the City budget came from state and federal grants. Upon examination, his staff realized that "...Chicago doesn't always pursue the money that it's owed...so we use tax revenues to make up what should be coming from grants." In the CDBG funding stream, they saw that Chicago often used 20% for overhead, where many other cities used only 10%. When the City received stimulus funds from President Obama's early initiatives, the funds had a mandate to have only 10% of the funds for overhead. With that as a ceiling, Mayor Emanuel said Chicago did meet the mandate - which meant that there were more funds available for programs delivered by nonprofit organizations, as intended. The audience was heartened to hear that, as they applauded Mayor Emanuel again and again!
As Mayor Emanuel introduced Darell Hammond, he referred to Darell's "...specific commitment to using nonprofits to give children that access." Mayor Emanuel was referring to the use of parks and playgrounds as a means for the healthy development of children and as a mechanism for "...creating community." Mayor Emanuel ended his remarks with the following, "The lives you're touching - through your organizations as nonprofits - we as a City are benefitting by what you do...So as your new mayor - thank you!"
Let's hope that Mayor Emanuel continues to understand and learn more about the role of Chicago's nonprofit sector in contributing to the betterment of the City as a whole. Some members of our community don't understand that it is our nonprofit organizations that make this city great. We provide basic human needs such as food and shelter, arts and cultural opportunities, after school programs that keep our children safe and off the streets ... the list goes on and on. We are hopeful that Mayor Emanuel will do all he can to support our sector so that we can continue our quest to make Chicago a strong, healthy and beautiful city!