In January 2017 President Trump announced dramatic shifts in federal immigration policies and made sweeping changes to immigration law enforcement. These new executive orders affected Chicagoans, immigrant communities, and organizations working in this field. By May 2017, recognizing the importance of this work to the city, its diverse communities, and all its residents, MacArthur awarded $1.2 million (eight expedited grants and five traditional grants) to 13 organizations supporting efforts to overturn laws and policies that undermine people's rights and to protect the rights and liberties of racial, ethnic, religious, and other social groups.
In October 2017, the Foundation hired The Silver Line to conduct an evaluation of the package of grants made in response to President Trump's executive orders on immigration. The purpose of the evaluation was to help the Foundation understand the value and perceived benefit of the grants for the recipients and the communities they serve and assess the potential for applying this mode of targeted and responsive grantmaking in the future. The primary questions guiding this evaluation included:
- To what extent have these funds helped organizations respond to the needs of the immigrant and refugee communities they serve? What are perceived accomplishments? What additional benefits emerged for organizations? To what extent did the awards influence the grant recipients' ability to network and/or coordinate efforts around the executive orders?
- How has this package of awards supported alliances across immigrant, ethnic, and religious communities?
- What are the pros and cons of the Foundation's process to make these awards? What can be learned from what worked? Or from what did not work?