The Oak Park Community Relations Commission (CRC) is creating a small grant program for entities in the village working to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. 

The Oak Park Board of Trustees unanimously approved the request by CRC Chairman Glenn Brewer at its Sept. 16 meeting. 

The CRC will award up to $2,000 in grants through the new program. Individual grants cannot exceed $1,000 and cannot be retroactive or used for political purposes.

Brewer said after the board meeting that the CRC is working to partner with other public and private entities engaged in equity work.

If an organization is providing equity training, for example, the CRC could award a grant to support the cost of the training, Brewer said.

“It could be partnering with different organizations who are finding ways to make sure they are working to ensure good human, race and community relations and reduce tension,” Brewer said. “If they have a project they want to work on that brings people together around issues of diversity and equity, send us the proposal and let us see what you’re trying to do and how we could potentially support that.”

The various village commissions are given a combined $25,000 annually for such projects, Village Manager Cara Pavlicek said at the board meeting. Roughly $11,000 of that money has been spent this year, she added.

Brewer said the CRC spends most of its discretionary money on its Dinner and Dialogue series, which encourages people of different races to meet for dinners and discuss the topics of race, equity and diversity.

Proposals for the grant program are due to Oak Park Community Relations Director Cedric Melton by Oct. 4, 2019. The commission will discuss the proposals at its Oct. 16 meeting.

Brewer noted that the grant program is not limited to public entities like the school districts, which are already doing work on equity and diversity training.

“The beauty of this is we get a chance now to figure out what other folks are doing,” Brewer said.

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