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Block Club Chicago is a nonprofit neighborhood news site started by former editors and reporters at DNAinfo Chicago. We're back!
Block Club Chicago is a nonprofit neighborhood news site started by former editors and reporters at DNAinfo Chicago. We're back!
3,143 backers pledged $183,720 to help bring this project to life.

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$183,720

3,143

Update 3/6 at 10:30 a.m. 

Hey Chicago! 

Today, we rolled out a really exciting new rewards tier that allows you to sponsor a membership for someone who can't afford it. This was YOUR IDEA and we couldn't love it more. Thanks to artist JC Rivera for offering to design a limited edition Block Club Chicago shirt to go along with this reward level! 

We're also extremely close to being Kickstarter's most funded U.S. local journalism project ever! 

Thank you for being the most amazing, Chicago. We love you! 

Oh, are our stretch goals remain: 

1. If we reach $172,000: We will be America's most successful local journalism campaign in Kickstarter history. Yes, we've got a ways to go, but this would be a massive accomplishment and really speak volumes about demand for high quality, hyperlocal coverage. Aside from breaking a record, reaching this amount would really allow us to ramp up our freelance coverage all over the city. To break it down a bit, that additional $22,000 could help fund hundreds of stories from all across the city. There are so many stories to tell, and we want to pay reporters who know their neighborhoods to tell them.

2. If we reach $225,000: Thanks to you, we are not afraid to dream big. If we hit this level, we'll be hiring yet another neighborhood reporter!

JC Rivera
JC Rivera

 

Update 2/7 at 11:47 a.m. 

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, CHICAGO. You are incredible. We are all blown away by your support and kind words. Obviously, every dime we make will go into covering the city's neighborhoods, so please keep spreading the word!

YOU JUST HELPED US HIRE ANOTHER REPORTER!

We'll keep you updated on who we hire as soon as we're able to access the funding for this!

----

Block Club Chicago is a nonprofit, digital-first news organization dedicated to delivering reliable, nonpartisan and essential coverage of Chicago's diverse neighborhoods.

"I think neighborhood news represents a state of mind of the people, and that state of mind is hard to understand if you aren't on the block-level with the people. With DNAinfo gone, a lot of those stories, a lot of those perspectives are not being heard. And it's really missed." - Jahmal Cole, Founder of My Block, My Hood, My City

In November of last year, Chicago lost its most reliable source for truly local news when DNAinfo Chicago abruptly shut down. Aside from putting more than 60 journalists out of work, the city lost its neighborhood news –– and no legacy media organization has stepped up to fill that void. 

So, we figured we'd come back and do it all over again. But this time we're relying on YOU, Chicago, for support. 

Introducing Block Club Chicago, a brand spankin' new site from the editorial team that brought you DNAinfo Chicago. Once we launch (April!), we'll be doing what we do best: covering the hell out of Chicago's vibrant and diverse neighborhoods.

We're here for your unique ways of battling winter.
We're here for your unique ways of battling winter.

What We Need From You 

While most of the Block Club Chicago team hails from DNAinfo and our focus remains on all things local, there will be some changes. 

First off, we're operating as a nonprofit newsroom. That means every dime we make (from you glorious readers) will go back into producing relevant, impactful neighborhood news. We're also operating on this newfangled thing called the blockchain, thanks to our startup funders Civil. Read more about them here. 

While we have a bit of money to get the site launched (it's really happening, y'all!), we want to be sustainable –– and to eventually cover much more of the city. That's where you come in. 

In order for us to survive this time around, at least some of our readers will have to pay for the news. We don't want to limit access to breaking news (and we won't) but we will charge a totally reasonable $5 per month for full access to our coverage. For less than that last cocktail you really didn't need at happy hour, you could support the independent, community-focused journalism this city badly needs. 

Also, because your user experience matters to us, we won't batter you with annoying pop-up ads that crash your browser (no ads at all, actually) and we will listen to your feedback, whether that's through emails, tweets, live events or carrier pigeon. 

What You'll Get From Us 

"The fact that I know what's going on down the block or down the street, and it's being reported by people who actually live in the neighborhoods, it's super important." - Antonio Beniquez, Humboldt Park artist 

What sort of stories can you expect at Block Club Chicago? Stories that other outlets might dismiss as too small, but impact the daily lives of residents. 

Like legislation that would make it harder for Humboldt Park residents to “flip” their homes, even though an alderman profited by doing just that. Or how a once-thriving selective enrollment school has quietly suffered after a student’s high-profile murder. By working in the neighborhoods every single day, we’re able to see the slow but steady impacts of gentrification. And how hard it has become to find affordable housing in many city neighborhoods.

We also listen to people in the neighborhood, who tell us stories we love to share. Like how Little Village has become a destination for young women across the Midwest looking for the perfect quinceañera dress. Or how Chatham's Jahmal Cole found a way to fund field trips for South and West side kids by selling stylish swag.  

We never avoid the weird, either. Whether it's a bizarre tree art project, a sidewalk blob or a block infested by seemingly-evil raccoons

You in? Sign up for email updates here. Also, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Our Team

Block Club Chicago will be smaller than DNAinfo by quite a bit, but we hope to eventually expand our footprint. For now, though, we've got an incredibly devoted group of people ready to pound the pavement and tell stories that matter to you. 

Block Club Chicago founders Jen Sabella, Shamus Toomey and Stephanie Lulay. Photo: Mina Bloom
Block Club Chicago founders Jen Sabella, Shamus Toomey and Stephanie Lulay. Photo: Mina Bloom

Shamus Toomey // Editor-In-Chief, Co-Founder

Shamus was DNAinfo Chicago's Managing Editor. A former Metro Editor for the Chicago Sun-Times, he supervised the team that won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. Shamus is an alum of the Daily Herald and City News Bureau of Chicago.

Jen Sabella // Director of Strategy, Co-Founder 

Jen was the former Deputy Editor and Director of Social Media at DNAinfo Chicago, a site she helped launch in 2012. Before that, she was HuffPost's Chicago Editor and a breaking news reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times

Stephanie Lulay // Managing Editor, Co-Founder

Stephanie was a Senior Editor at DNAinfo Chicago, where she previously covered the West Loop and Pilsen neighborhoods. Before joining DNA, she was an education and housing reporter at the Aurora Beacon-News.

Kelly Bauer // Reporter

Kelly previously worked as a breaking news and general assignment reporter at DNAinfo Chicago, where she covered a little bit of everything. She also works as a photographer and video producer.

Reporter Kelly Bauer interviews Humboldt Park artist Antonio Beniquez.
Reporter Kelly Bauer interviews Humboldt Park artist Antonio Beniquez.

Mauricio Peña // Reporter 

Mauricio joins us from Chicago magazine, where he was an Associate Digital Editor. Before that, he was an investigative reporter covering immigration and equality at the Desert Sun and a breaking news reporter for DNAinfo Chicago.

Mauricio Peña reporting for the Desert Sun in southern California
Mauricio Peña reporting for the Desert Sun in southern California

Alisa Hauser // Reporter

Alisa covered Wicker Park, Bucktown and West Town for DNAinfo Chicago. She's also reported stories for the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader, Eater and Cityscape. From 2009 until 2012, she published Chicago Pipeline, a neighborhood news website focused on the Wicker Park area. 

Alisa Hauser has been reporting on the Wicker Park area for nearly a decade.
Alisa Hauser has been reporting on the Wicker Park area for nearly a decade.

Mina Bloom // Reporter

Mina covered Logan Square, Humboldt Park and Avondale for DNAinfo Chicago. She's also contributed to the Chicago Sun-Times, Eater and Chicago magazine.

Mina Bloom hard at work at the neighborhood pie shop.
Mina Bloom hard at work at the neighborhood pie shop.

Lee Edwards // Reporter

Lee covered everything from sports to politics at the Chicago Defender and the Chicago Crusader. He was also an investigative reporter for City Bureau and a reporter for 22nd Century Media and the Austin Weekly Paper.

Lee Edwards gets the job done.
Lee Edwards gets the job done.

YOU

Block Club Chicago will also rely on a network of trusted freelancers who are connected to the city's neighborhoods. If this sounds like something you're into, send us a note: newsroom@blockclubchi.org 

Video by magical unicorn human Kelly Bauer 

Logo by creative queen Sarah Sears 

Risks and challenges

We're going live as soon as the Civil platform is ready for us to use! That said, our model is 100% dependent on getting you to subscribe this time around.

If we don't get subscribers or grants from foundations, we won't be long for this world. We believe boots on the ground journalism is worth $5 a month, and think you do, too!

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    Block Club Chicago "Thank You" Postcard

    We'll send you a personal thank you note featuring an amazing photo taken in one of Chicago's vibrant neighborhoods.

    Includes:
    • Thank you postcard
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    182 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Custom Block Club Chicago Tote Bag

    Receive a thank you postcard and a sweet, limited-edition Block Club Chicago tote bag.

    Includes:
    • Thank you postcard
    • Block Club Chicago Tote Bag
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    343 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    Get A One Year Subscription!

    Receive a one year Block Club Chicago subscription, giving you access to all of Block Club Chicago's stories, a Block Club Chicago tote bag and postcard.

    Includes:
    • One Year Subscription
    • Block Club Chicago Tote Bag
    • Thank you postcard
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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Become A Block Club Extra Member

    Feeling #extra? We are, too. Block Club Extra members will get all access to our stories and newsletters, as well as VIP entry to all Block Club Chicago events, a monthly newsletter from the editors letting you know what we're up to and all the swag listed above !

    Includes:
    • One Year Subscription
    • Block Club Extra Membership
    • Block Club Chicago Tote Bag
    • Thank you postcard
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    THE BCC T-SHIRT And Good Vibes Package

    Proving once again that Chicagoans are the very best, several of you asked for a way to gift or donate a BCC subscription to someone who can't afford one. Well, now you can!

    If you pledge $175, you'll not only get a Block Club Extra membership and another membership to gift or donate, but you'll get a special edition Block Club Chicago shirt designed by renowned Chicago artist JC Rivera. Plus a tote and a postcard.

    Includes:
    • Limited Edition Block Club Chicago Shirt Designed By JC Rivera
    • Block Club Extra Membership
    • BCC Sponsored Membership
    • Block Club Chicago Tote Bag
    • Thank you postcard
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Brewery Tour And News Nerd Hang

    Feeling generous? Thank you! Let's go tour Revolution Brewery together and talk about the future of community journalism with the Block Club Chicago crew and other newsmakers in town. Over brews, obvs. Plus all the swag above and Block Club Extra membership!

    Includes:
    • Block Club Extra Membership
    • Block Club Chicago Tote Bag
    • Thank you postcard
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  7. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Private Dinner with BCC team at Quiote

    Dinner with you, a guest and Block Club Chicago's founders at Logan Square's award-winning restaurant Quiote. Who knows what we'll say after a mezcal flight or two! Also: a one-year membership and all of the swag above.

    Includes:
    • Private Quiote Dinner
    • One Year Subscription
    • Block Club Chicago Tote Bag
    • Thank you postcard
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    Reward no longer available 8 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10,000 About US$ 10,000

    Become A Founding Member

    Your esteemed organization will be listed on our website as a founding member of Block Club Chicago. You'll receive VIP access to all Block Club Chicago events, a subscription, the Quiote dinner and all the other swag listed above. Plus bragging rights that you helped save local journalism.

    Includes:
    • Private Quiote Dinner
    • One Year Subscription
    • Block Club Chicago Tote Bag
    • Thank you postcard
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    0 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)