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Pathways to Liberation: Illinoisans Share Policies to Inform a Black Agenda


It is the season of opportunities. Largely due to organizing and advocacy, Illinois’ elected officials and state and local agency leaders have made great strides to develop and implement policies that begin to diminish the harms caused by anti-Blackness and systemic oppression. There is, however, more work to do. Throughout Illinois,  at all levels of government, there are newly elected and reelected officials planning their first 100 days; advocacy organizations are developing their policy platforms and work plans; and philanthropic organizations are refining their funding priorities for the upcoming year. Now is the time to either double-down on the existing commitments made to Black communities and to Black-serving organizations or to step up and commit to supporting Black communities and Black-serving organizations. Black Illinoisans deserve and demand thoughtful, visionary policies that address the issues most important to us and the autonomy to develop and lead the strategies necessary to win and implement those policies. This anthology is intended to be an advocacy roadmap for community members, policymakers, and thought leaders, and seeks to inspire elected officials to advance legislation that represents the interests of Black people. 



H3 Coalition

First Followers in Champaign County is a peer mentorship reentry program for people impacted by the criminal legal system. Founded in 2015 as a drop-in center that provided services for those returning home, First Followers has expanded to offer employment support, workforce development for emerging adults, family reunification, referrals to services, transitional housing, support groups for individuals impacted by violence and incarceration, violence prevention efforts, and advocacy for the rights of those with criminal convictions. Learn here about their Harm, Healing, Home (H3) Coalition which is responding to the alarming rise in gun violence and supporting those who have been impacted by violence and incarceration.


Fully Funding K-12

Since 2004, Kids First Chicago (originally the Renaissance Schools Fund) has worked to improve outcomes for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students. Though the district has since achieved dramatic growth in graduation rates, college readiness scores, and elementary reading and math scores, K1C remains focused on addressing inequitable outcomes and access to high-quality education for low-income communities with predominantly African American and Latinx/a/o families. Learn here about how Kids First Chicago believes the state can equitably enhance student achievement for Illinois students.



Advocates for Foster System-Involved Parents

Parents Overcoming Welfare-system Regulation(s) is an advocacy space for parents who have come into contact with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). P.O.W.R. fights to keep families intact so that they can be “together, safe, honored, supported, and thriving in their communities.” The organization focuses on the demographic groups most disproportionately impacted: Black and Indigenous families and families experiencing poverty. Learn here about how we can make critical changes to the child welfare system and protect Black and Indigenous children. 


Cannabis Equity

The Chicago Urban League (CUL) works to achieve equity for Black families and communities through social and economic empowerment. Currently, there is only one predominantly Black-owned licensed pot business and craft grower in Illinois and only one Black-owned cannabis company in Illinois! Learn here how we can demand equity in the state’s cannabis economy. 



Reparations Campaign

BlackRoots Alliance (BA) is a Black-led organization working to support the safety and liberation of all Black people, including efforts to build socioeconomic power, heal our communities and fundamentally transform our society. All of BA’s member organizations are led by people who have been directly impacted by issues of systemic racism and are on-the-ground leaders for a variety of racial justice issues. Learn here how BlackRoots Alliance (BA) is organizing toward community-centered reparations legislation.

Stay Connected to IBAI

IBAI fights for Black communities, and the organizations centering our communities, to envision and build self-determined futures.  These organizations have developed bold campaigns that create opportunities to support and embolden Black communities. They are working on a range of critical issues impacting Black communities from reproductive justice to education and mass incarceration. These campaigns serve as a springboard for the creation of a collective organizing and policy advocacy agenda that centers Black lives. As IBAI grows and develops, we hope to further amplify the work of these campaigns, and others, by building advocacy and organizing momentum around unified Black policy agendas. Stay connected to our work by completing this short form.

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