Blurb about why Forefront rocks, caption for photo


Forefront’s Racial Equity Collective (REC) is a multi-sector collaboration of community leaders, nonprofit and private sector organizations, philanthropic funders, and legislators who come together to advance racial equity on behalf of Illinois’ social impact sector and Forefront’s mission to build a more vibrant social impact sector for Illinois.

In late 2022, Forefront partnered with NORC at the University of Chicago to design a survey and create a digital asset map of organizations engaged in racial equity work in Illinois. NORC is an objective, independent, non-partisan research institution that helps governments, nonprofits, and businesses make better decisions through data and analysis.

The Racial Equity Collective Mapping Survey + Gap Analysis presents findings from our 2022 survey of Illinois nonprofits, grantmakers, and individuals on their present programs and policies advancing racial equity in Illinois. The survey gathered a detailed snapshot of 800+ programs and policies across Illinois. Most respondents were operating nonprofits. Nearly half of the respondents were small organizations led and/or staffed by people who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latino/a/e/x or other People of Color (BILPOC).

Download the one page Racial Equity Collective Mapping Survey + Gap Analysis Executive Summary.
Download the Racial Equity Collective Mapping Survey + Gap Analysis infographic.
Download the Slide Deck from the Racial Equity Collective: Charting our Path Together virtual presentation.

Key Findings

In identifying the industries and topics of their work, as well as their biggest challenges, we found that 60% of survey respondents often sought to address systemic inequities through direct services. Many organizations also seek to address attitudes and cultural perceptions of racism and racial inequities through arts and culture.

See graphs below.


From December 2022 to March 2023, NORC surveyed 1,574 organizations statewide, primarily Forefront members and other organizations identified through a scan of publicly available information. Of those, 333 organizations (21%) completed the survey. Respondents included operating nonprofits and grantmaking institutions based and operating in Illinois. Government agencies, medical and educational institutions, and direct service providers were not surveyed at this time.

The survey sought to identify organizations doing racial equity work that seeks to create systemic changes in Illinois through programs and policies in addition to direct services. This study was limited to a goal-directed and non-representative sample and relied on respondents’ to determine if they were working to systemically advance racial equity in Illinois.

Most survey participants were based in and/or serve northern Illinois, home to the largest number of Illinois residents. Additional outreach and interviews with organizations throughout Illinois will be conducted by NORC and Forefront. Interview data will be incorporated into the final survey report, to be released in October 2023.

To participate in the survey, please contact

Get Involved

If you would like to join the Racial Equity Collective, please contact Sharmin Shahjahan at  Stay up to date with the work and progress of REC by signing up to receive REC email alerts by clicking here.


Special thanks to Racial Equity Collective’s funding partners. To support this work, contact






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