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 Funding Innovative Projects

Don Benedict Fund

CRS honors the memory of former Executive Director Don Benedict by funding innovative pilot projects within Illinois which address a major urban issue effectively in a three to five year period. Priority will be given to projects within the Chicago metropolitan area.

Grant(s) will range from $2,500-$15,000, contingent on the project and the merits of the proposal. To apply, view the proposal guidelines. Please include complete contact information for your project administrator, including name, email, phone number and physical address. You may submit applications via email to or mail to:

Community Renewal Society 
Attn: Don Benedict Committee
111 West Jackson Blvd. Ste. 820
Chicago, IL 60604 

Please send any questions to the above email or call Beth Babbitt Borst, 312-673-3835.

  • 2019 Grantees - applications were due on May 15, 2019.

  • 2018 Grantees

Rev. Don Benedict

In 1960, Don Benedict was recruited as executive director of the Chicago City Missionary Society, which, under his leadership, took its present name, Community Renewal Society. His focus was promoting social change and fostering leadership through a network of inner-city churches, which he urged well-heeled suburban congregations to support.

As an early leader in police accountability, his work made him the target of surveillance by the Chicago Police Department's notorious Red Squad in the 1960s. A transcript of one day's report from the spies uncovered nothing more than Rev. Benedict leaving his Hyde Park home with a briefcase in the morning and returning with the same briefcase in the evening, according to a Tribune article.

He became a regular visitor of criminal courtrooms and took up the causes of those he thought had been wronged, leading to the formation of the Justice Coalition for Greater Chicago. Rev. Benedict was a respected social justice leader in Chicago and passed away in 2008. Upon his retirement from Community Renewal Society in 1982, the Don Benedict Fund was established to support pilot programs in Illinois which give promise of addressing major issues in the metropolitan area of Chicago or throughout the state of Illinois.

Former Executive Director Rev. Donald Benedict

Former Executive Director Rev. Donald Benedict