Update 3/6 at 10:30 a.m.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.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
- (30 days)