In 2021, the Illinois Black Advocacy Initiative (IBAI) was founded due to the current heightened sense of urgency to create and advance a statewide Black Advocacy agenda in Illinois. Although catalyzed by the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black lives, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Chicagoan Laquan McDonald and others have driven momentum. This Initiative acknowledges and builds upon a long pre-existing desire and early efforts to launch a unified agenda.
In 2020, a peer group of philanthropic organizations commissioned a landscape analysis and that analysis found strong support for a statewide entity and revealed a robust ecosystem of advocates. The analysis built the case for a race conscious approach to advocacy in Illinois and a call for specific actions that could be taken to support this endeavor and that can result in a socially and economically stronger state. Key recommendations were threefold:
Sustain and increase funding for existing Black advocacy organizations statewide. Devoting resources to any future statewide Black advocacy efforts must not mean reducing the funding for existing efforts.
Establish a Black-led, Black-focused, statewide, multi-issue advocacy organization. IBAI provides the important opportunity to align the landscape’s assets towards a common agenda, narrative, and strategy
Establish or leverage (through partnerships) key capacities for statewide advocacy. A range of capacities and strategies must be leveraged (individually and in combination) to successfully achieve statewide advocacy. Such strategies include: Community organizing and coalition building; leadership development; communications support; action research and policy expertise; litigation and government relations; and electoral or political organizing.