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Citywide conversation to deliver a memo to Chicago’s new mayor

The Chicago Community Trust’s 6th annual On the Table community engagement event set for May 14

Chicago-area residents and neighbors will gather in conversations across the city and region on Tuesday, May 14, working together to create a memo to Chicago’s newly elected mayor. The memos will express the ideas and concerns of residents, with specific recommendations for the new mayor, her administration and other elected officials. The conversations are sparked by On the Table, the annual civic engagement initiative of The Chicago Community Trust.

The photo is from a “On The Table” discussion held in 2018 on a variety of topics chosen by each group. This year’s discussions will be developing specific recommendations for Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot.

Since 2014, On the Table has brought together thousands of people who have gathered around tables in homes, community centers, schools, libraries and other spaces to discuss issues they believe are important to their own and the region’s future. At the end of each table’s conversation, ideas are shared, people have formed connections and, often, guests have recommended solutions and are ready to take action.

This year, On the Table arrives at an unprecedented time in Chicago’s history. The city has elected only its third new mayor in 30 years, and its first African-American woman mayor. Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot will face high public expectations for change not expected from prior mayors – change born of the collective recognition that equity is key to the city’s progress.

“This is absolutely the right time to use our day of civic conversation to create a Memo to the Mayor,” said Helene Gayle, president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust. “There is power in gathering people together to generate formal recommendations about issues their tables feel must be addressed. The result will be memos filled with actionable ideas that will become a people-generated plan for the new administration’s first year in office.”

Because a memo is used to communicate important information and seek direct action and response, a memo to the mayor is the best way to document issues the community wants its leaders held accountable to addressing, citywide and in neighborhoods. Those who don’t live in Chicago are also encouraged to participate in On the Table and to create memos to their local leaders.

After the May 14 table conversations conclude, the resulting memos will be documented, and each will be used to inform a single, compilation memo to be delivered by June 21 to Chicago’s mayor and other leaders across the region. Also, it will be posted on Follow On the Table 2019 via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Chicago Community Trust is a community foundation dedicated to advancing the Chicago region and improving the lives of the people who call it home. For more than 100 years the Trust has served as a trusted philanthropic partner, connecting the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to nonprofit organizations. Today, following the creation of a new strategic plan in 2018, the Trust stands committed to addressing Chicago’s legacy of systemic inequity and closing the racial wealth gap. With assets of approximately $3 billion and more than $400 million in grants awarded last year, the Trust works to mobilize resources, people, organizations and ideas in support of this vision for a truly equitable, connected and thriving community. To learn more, visit

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