A nation without racism and poverty is a bold vision that takes commitment from everyone. Your leadership and generosity are what gives us hope in the fight for racial and economic justice.
During a challenging political environment in 2022, we fought to close the wealth gap for people of color amid a rise in racialized violence that harkens back to a darker time in American history. That’s why the work of the Shriver Center on Poverty Law remains so crucial in meeting urgent needs.
Last year, we successfully advocated for guaranteed income pilot programs in Chicago and Cook County. These programs provide regular, no-strings-attached money to people with low income. As a result, over 8,000 families now receive direct cash payments monthly. Across the country, guaranteed income recipients can pay rent and bills, buy groceries, or add to their savings account.
The Shriver Center played a key role in the state’s first task force on racial disproportionality in a child welfare system that fails Black and brown children. We will keep fighting the false narrative that criminalizes poverty and harms Black families the most. And through our groundbreaking national leadership program, the Racial Justice Institute, we also trained and supported a network of over 400 advocates working on racial equity issues across the country.
This critical work brought upon a time of reflection, rebuilding, and reconnection to accelerate and amplify our impact. We started the process for a new strategic plan, strengthened our leadership with a new Vice President of Advocacy, and increased support through our first in-person gala since 2019 and a successful year-end fundraising campaign.
As we get ready to launch our new strategic direction, we are more resolute than ever in our belief that poverty is a policy choice. With your help, the Shriver Center will continue to challenge our government to make a different choice — a choice to prioritize the livelihood and health of people experiencing poverty.
Many of you, like me, want to be part of the solution. In collaboration with you — whether as a donor, advocate, or legislator — we are creating real change for the people and communities that need it most.
We are truly grateful for your partnership. The better future we’re building is powered by your passion for our shared mission. Let’s keep reimagining justice together.
Audra Wilson President & CEO
Illinois workers now entitled to up to 40 hours of paid leave per year, after passage of the Paid Leave for All Workers Act
eligible for Medicaid look-alike coverage in Illinois
Illinoisans now entitled
to an Earned Income
5,000 FAMILIES RECEIVE
$500 MONTHLY PAYMENTS
through the city of Chicago’s
guaranteed income pilot program
of Illinois households protected from housing discrimination because source of income is now a protected class
advocates better equipped to fight for racial and economic justice through Shriver Center training programs
38 MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS
in the Legal Impact Network, spanning 34 states
connecting advocates to best practices and resources
The federal poverty level for a family of 3 is
Reimagining Justice to Create Lasting Change
Imagine a country where all people thrive. They are paid fairly for their work, receive quality health care, and have access to safe, affordable housing. This is the future we’re fighting for.
With this goal in mind, we bring together advocates, partners, and coalitions to design laws and policies that support everyone.
Families experiencing poverty face barriers meeting basic needs and achieving their dreams. Residential segregation, perpetuated by unfair lending practices and redlining, keeps people of color in poor neighborhoods. Real estate taxes fund public education, leading to under-resourced schools in communities of color. Racial bias in the criminal legal system — and the foster system that runs parallel to it — criminalizes poverty and separates families.
And because these systems were designed with race in mind, we approach solving poverty with a racial justice lens. The solutions require a holistic strategy because people don’t lead single-issue lives. Therefore, we focus on and collaborate across multiple systems and sectors affecting children and families.
Economic justice: We work to ensure children and families receive income supports to meet their needs and that people can get jobs with good wages and benefits.
Health justice: We fight to eliminate barriers to affordable, quality health care for people and families with low income, no matter their race, gender, or where they’re from.
Housing justice: We work to ensure people have access to quality housing, regardless of their source of income, arrest or criminal record, or eviction history.
Family and community justice: We advocate for policies that support parents, keep families together, and help people thrive in their communities.
Our work with our partners in these areas is a blueprint for innovative impact that can be shared with other communities. Litigation is one of our strategies to shape policy that provides justice for all. We also work locally and nationally to effect change by training and convening multi-state networks of public interest attorneys and other advocates.
The Racial Justice Institute, our groundbreaking national leadership program, has trained and supported a network of over 400 advocates in over 100 organizations. We also lead the Legal Impact Network, a dynamic collaborative of 38 state- based advocacy organizations from across the country working to end poverty and achieve racial justice.
Through our unique approach to advocacy, we are changing the rules to change lives.
Stories of Impact
Fostering Equity in Child Welfare
Black children are disproportionately represented in foster placement in Illinois. They make up 44 percent of over 21,000 children in foster placement in Illinois, despite only accounting for 14 percent of the total child population. Nationally, they represented 22 percent of all children in the foster system in 2021, but only 14 percent of the total child population.
This stark disparity highlights systematic biases and structural inequalities that lead to higher rates of family separation. Racial disproportionality perpetuates cycles of trauma, disrupts family units, and often results in negative long-term outcomes for children and their families, further underscoring an urgent need for reform and equity-driven solutions.
Children placed in the foster system experience higher rates of homelessness and housing instability. Black youth are at greatest risk.
Addressing the issue of racial disproportionality in the child welfare system requires a multifaceted approach that combines policy reform, community engagement, and systematic change. To help maintain crucial support networks, policies must prioritize kinship care and family preservation over the removal of children from their homes.
It is time to stop penalizing poverty by shifting resources to families and children who need them the most. One of the most promising initiatives is the joint effort of a dedicated task force initiated in 2021 (HB3821), co-chaired by the Shriver Center on Poverty Law and Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois. The Shriver Center helped pass the legislation to establish the task force.
Collaboration is at the heart of the Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare Task Force. The task force partners with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois, along with lawyers, advocates, private agencies, public agencies, and legislators, to explore both current and alternative policies and practices, with the goal of improving outcomes for Illinois families.
The task force is a foundational step to identify the tools and resources essential for effective solutions. Currently, the group meets monthly to create informed and efficient recommendations to Gov. J.B. Pritzker that will ultimately keep families together, provide parents with better resources, elevate youth voice, and limit the time children, particularly Black children, spend in the system.
Disrupting How Eviction Perpetuates Poverty
Everyone needs a safe, secure, and affordable place to live. But in recent years, eviction has emerged as a national crisis because of rising housing costs, stagnant wages, and minimal protections for tenants, all made worse by the pandemic.
Landlords deny access to housing based on eviction records generated by tenant screening companies. This discriminatory practice affects Black mothers the most.
An eviction filing can lead to job insecurity, economic instability, and, in the worst cases, homelessness. Even though fewer than 50 percent of filings in Illinois result in an eviction, tenant screening companies include records even if a case was dismissed, the tenant wins the case, or there is no material violation of the lease. And Black mothers are most at risk because of racial bias and inequitable systems.
The COVID-19 Emergency Housing Act required sealing all eviction records between March 2020 and March 2022. Signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in the spring of 2021, the act created protections for people in Illinois struggling to pay their rent or mortgage as a result of economic instability during the pandemic.
Working with partners, the Shriver Center on Poverty Law advocated for passage of this legislation. The law put safeguards in place to prohibit tenant screening companies from disseminating sealed court records.
An estimated 60,000 Illinois households were vulnerable to eviction in 2021 as a result of the pandemic, according to information from the Illinois Department of Human Services. Since pandemic protections have mostly expired, homelessness has been on the rise, affecting communities of color at disproportionate rates. In Chicago, 73 percent of unhoused individuals and 90 percent of unhoused families are Black. A large percentage of those individuals were in the foster system.
The Shriver Center will continue to work with Illinois State Rep. La Shawn Ford and State Sen. Karina Villa on legislation to seal certain evictions records. Sensible regulation of tenant screening companies gives individuals and families access to stable housing.
Building a Path to Financial Wellness
Everyone should have the financial resources to support themselves and their family members. Yet nearly 38 million people — 1 in 10 — experienced poverty in 2021.
It’s long past time to unbuckle the “bootstraps” narrative arguing that people experiencing poverty simply need to work harder or make better personal choices. In fact, policies and laws that create and perpetuate poverty and racial inequity are written into the fabric of our nation.
Systemic factors, including the legacy of racism and white supremacy, contribute to America’s high poverty rate. In particular, Black and Latino/a/x families, who face discrimination in employment, housing, and access to government benefits, suffer higher poverty rates, and have been unable to build generational wealth.
It’s time to ensure the financial security of all families by providing a guaranteed income. A guaranteed income program provides recurring cash payments, with no strings attached, to a targeted group of people who truly need them. As a result, guaranteed income programs are more effective at reducing the racial wealth gap and increasing equity.
A guaranteed income also gives families resilience in the face of financially stressful life events, such as unemployment, divorce, disability, or health problems. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed how many Americans are close to the brink and lack sufficient resources to weather emergencies.
The Shriver Center on Poverty Law successfully advocated for guaranteed income pilot programs in Chicago and Cook County, Illinois. The city program gives $500 monthly to 5,000 Chicago residents for a year. The Cook County program gives $500 monthly to 3,250 residents for two years.
A guaranteed income can dramatically reduce poverty and improve families’ long-term well-being. Across the country, pilot programs have measurably improved participants’ financial stability.
Guaranteed income, along with other safety net benefits, can lift families out of poverty. Income and wealth inequities increase the likelihood that Black and brown children are put into the child welfare system. These disparities are further compounded when the system provides more resources to foster families than it does to parents or kin.
In the last few years, several key federal tax credits were temporarily expanded and made refundable. In 2022, the Shriver Center successfully passed legislation to increase the amount and number of recipients for the Earned Income Tax Credit (tax credit for working individuals). These benefits will begin rolling in the April 2024 tax season.
At the federal level, the Shriver Center is advocating to make temporary tax credits that help low-wage families permanent, a policy position shared by the Biden administration. We help local governments structure their programs, distribute benefits, and determine eligibility. The Shriver Center strongly supports policies and programs that provide a guaranteed income floor for people with the lowest income.
Here are some highlights of your partnership with us:
Successful community event in Washington Park featuring Chicago’s famed TikTok historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas. The event brought together members of our Professionals Council and Board of Directors, as well as longtime donors.
Return to an in-person gala with 304 guests. We reconnected with our donors and gathered with new supporters while learning lessons on being a professional troublemaker from keynote speaker Luvvie Ajayi Jones. We raised $535,091.
Renewal of several key grants and increased support from several family foundations.
$115,176 raised during end-of-year campaign.
Thank you to our generous donors, funders, and supporters, who make our work for economic and racial justice possible.
The JPB Foundation
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Michael Reese Health Trust
$100,000 – $199,999
Central Indiana Community Foundation
Chicago Community Trust
Community Catalyst, Inc.
Crown Family Philanthropies
Lloyd A. Fry Foundation
Grand Victoria Foundation
New York Law School
Polk Bros. Foundation
RRF Foundation for Aging
Square One Foundation
$50,000 – $99,999
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Chicago Bar Foundation
Healthy Communities Foundation Illinois
Children’s Healthcare Foundation
Illinois Immigration Funders Collaborative
J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation
Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois
Medical Home Network
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Paul M. Angell Family Foundation
Janice and Robert Rodgers
$10,000 – $49,999
Lucy and Peter Ascoli
Francis Beidler Foundation
Chicago Foundation for Women
Debbie and David Chizewer
Community Memorial Foundation
Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation
Dentons US LLP
Economic Security Project
Steve and Amy Eppler-Epstein
Virginia Farley and Robert B. Shapiro
Fifth Third Chicagoland Foundation
Goldberg Kohn Foundation
Greater Boston Legal Services
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Illinois Health and Hospital Association
Illinois Primary Health Care Association
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Landau Family Foundation
Law Firm Antiracism Alliance
Legal Council for Health Justice
Legal Services of New Jersey
The Lehman-Stamm Family Fund
The Lohengrin Foundation
Chastity and Zakiya Lord
Martha Struthers Farley and Donald C. Farley, Jr. Family Foundation
Minnesota IOLTA Legal Services Advisory Committee
National Immigration Law Center
Grace Newton and David Weinberg
Denis and Martha Pierce
Prince Charitable Trusts
Public Counsel Law Center
Vincent Robinson and Preston Powell
Eugene and Faith Schoon
John and Kathleen Schreiber
Sidley Austin LLP
Simpson Thacher and Bartlett
South Jersey Legal Services
Steptoe & Johnson LLP
Annie C. Wallis and Tom Whitehead
Woods Fund Chicago
$1,000 – $9,999
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
Prudence and Francis Beidler
Debra Beinstein and David Stein
Dr. Janice Blanchard and Eneya Mulagha
John Bouman and Robin L. Schirmer
Douwe and Ann Bruinsma
William and Samira Burns
Cambridge Public Health Commission
Helen and Paul Chang
Chapman and Cutler
Mr. Abe Chernin and Sarah Coleman
John Clement and Lauren E. Moltz
Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking
Community Legal Services, Inc.
Wendy Cox and Philippe Largent
Donald and Carole Dell
DLA Piper LLP
Ms. Rachel Dvorken and Harry Rosenberg
Harlene Ellin and Michael Cramer
Jed and Sara Enlow
Sandra C. Eskin
Sunny and Paul Fischer
Barbara Flynn Currie
Sharman and James Galezewski
George & Arlene Rusch Memorial Foundation
Michael B. Golden
Graham C. Grady
Michael H. Holland
Kathy Hollins Fields
Public Counsel Homelessness Prevention
Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd.
Harla and Jim Hutchinson
Ice Miller LLP
Illinois Primary Healthcare Association
Paul and Mariana Ingersoll
Henry and Karla Jones
Norah L. Jones and Timothy Cox
Just Roots Consulting LLC
Justice in Aging
Jerry Karp and Stephie Gold
Kaufman Family Foundation
Laura Kaufman and David Levine
Sheila and Christopher Kennedy
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
Legal Aid Justice Center
Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
Legal Services Alabama
Dan Lesser and Barbara Shulman
John and Jill Levi
Paul A. Levy and Mia Park
David A. Long and Starane Shepherd
William A. Lowry and Cheryl Watson-Lowry
Lisa Madigan and Pat Byrnes
Andrew and Ruth Massmann
Elizabeth Mazur and Ryan Lindberg
Robert R. McCormick Foundation
Nancy Meyer and Marc Weiss
MidPenn Legal Services
Miner Barnhill & Galland P.C.
Judson and Linda Miner
Minow Family Foundation
Jo and Art Moore
Seymour and Linda Moskowitz
Kevin C. Mulder
Betty and Todd Musburger
National Center for Youth Law
Pew Charitable Trust
Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI)
Marilyn and Gary Ratkin
Thomas Reuland and Lana Gersten
Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP
Nils F. Ringe and Sarah Halpern-Meekin
Susan Rogers and Richard Stephenson
Vanessa Ruiz and David Birenbaum
Lisa Marsh Ryerson and George Farenthold
Paul and Bettylu Saltzman
SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana Neighborhood Legal Services Program
Davinder and Jatinder Singh
Todd A. Smith and Marcia Friedl-Smith
Scott and Jaclyn Solotorovsky
Angelique Strong Marks
Amit Trivedi and Neha Patel
University of California Irvine School of Law
The Patricia Burke Fund
William S. Hein & Co, Inc.
Lauren Worsek and Paul Varnado
$500 – $999
Alaska Legal Services Corp
The Alford Group
Earl and Lisa Barnes
Jim L. Bennett and Terry V. Hoek
Blackbaud Giving Fund
Allison I. Brown and Gardner Humphreys
Joan and Michael Callahan
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Steven and Beth Catlett
Brandon Clark and Sarah R. Riedl
Connecticut Legal Services
Randall Fearnow and Beth Compton
Jitin and Bindi Garg
Alan and Jessie Gilbert
Lionel and Mary Go
Guy and Joan Gunzberg
Monique B. Howery
Mariana and Paul Ingersoll
Legal Aid of Western Ohio
David Leib and Anne Gendler
Lexis Nexis Group
Sari and Robert Macrie
Beth McDowell and David Keel
Ambar Mentor-Truppa and Mike Truppa
Mrs. Kate Moore and Mark Reddel
Pam Murphy Boylan
Network for Good
Northwest Justice Project
Stephanie and Mike Oettinger
Jeffrey S. Passel
Edward and Sheila Pont
Leslie Ramyk and Chris Penna
Matthew Rooney and Diane Kaplan
Self-Help Credit Union
Carolyn Shapiro and Joshua Karsh
Matthew and Jamie Singer
James E. Sojoodi
Nikki and Fredric Stein
Nate and Lindsay Swift
Julie Webb and Michael Taitel
Violet G. Young Charitable Trust
Richard and Lisa Worse
Su Ming Yeh
$1 – $499
Stephanie and David Altman
Bridget Arimond and Bruce Scheff
Arkes Family Foundation
Tamara and David Askew
Claudia and Tom Baier
Terry and Laura Bercovitz
Sarah and Hart Billings
Judith and Richard Bolotin
James A. Brandt
Hal and Marsha Brown
Kiley and Steven Buck
Lillian and Alexander Bui
Robert and Mary Burns
Center for Urban and Racial Equity
Chicago Public Library
Scott A. Christopher
Stuart Cohen and Donna Curry
Michael and Barbara Comiskey
Ann Courter and Norm Hirsch
Jeffrey and Leanne Cribbs
Candace and Edward Crosby
Jason and Felicia Cummings
Mark and Dawn Deaton
Gill and Laura Deford
Catherine and Peter Dorn Schreiber
John and Marcia Dowd
Klaus and Joyce Eppler
Maya and Jonah Feldman
Arthur and Julie Friedman
Marcus and Mitzi Fruchter
Mark and Elizabeth George
Gaylord and William Gieseke
Give Lively Foundation Inc.
GiveSmart US, Inc
Scott Greene and Lane Pickett
Michele and James Gustin
Health and Medicine Policy Research Group
Cara Hendrickson and Henry Guerriero
Alan and Karen Hollenbeck
Alan and Susan Houseman
Illinois State University
Lisa Johnson and Farzad Shahsavarani
Waldo and Melvin Johnson
Ben and Kate Julian
David and Arline Kallick
Janet and Lloyd Kittlaus
Philip and Victoria Kluss
Anne Ladky and Karen Fishman
Keenya and Lloyd Lambert
Rebecca and Max Lawson
Jules and Joyce Lerner
Juan Carlos Linares
Bill E. Lowry and Teresita M. Gonzales-Lowry
Meadows Family Fund
Horacio and Nicole Mendez
Allen and Cozy Mitchell
Jay Mitchell and Julie Federico
Reena and Sam Morgan
Mount Sinai Hospital
Barbara O’Brien and Christopher Udry
Julia Parzen and Daniel Johnson
Maria and David Tlateollin Pesqueira
Lane Pickett and Scott Greene
James and Linda Pitts
Keyonn and Tamara Pope
Barry Reitman and Gayle Shapiro-Reitman
Peter and Julie Riley
James and Kathryn Rolfes
Professor Henry Rose and Patricia Kelleher
Ruth Rosenthal and David Howes
Jasmine and Navtej Sandhu
Allison and Alan Satyr
Mary Ann Shaw
Patricia and Bill Stamper
Paula Stern and Paul London
Guy and Sandra Summers
The Standard Insurance Company
University of Illinois
Paul Varnado and Lauren Worsek
Antonia and James Verdirame
We believe in organizational excellence at all levels, grounded in our core values and measured against progress toward our mission to guide our path to success.