Our Backbone Organization and Origin

The Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (CSLN) emerged as an on-going member driven way for active grassroots leaders to sustain their connections within and across the city. In an effort to build cross-community initiatives, local leaders come together within the network to connect, learn, and ignite change. 

In 2011, the nonprofit organization Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) launched a project called accelerate77. Accelerate77 was created as an asset mapping initiative aimed to increase the role and positive impact of local community actions across Chicago’s 77 community areas. The project’s focus on identifying existing initiatives, connecting those initiatives, and fostering collaboration between organization and residents, gave rise to the formation of CSLN as it is seen today.

Currently, CSLN engages members as a network of local activists and community organizers across Chicago. The members come together with a shared goal of collaborative change making efforts. The network is bottom-up, with grassroots leaders continuing to set the direction of collaborative initiatives. ICA serves as the administrative support and main point of contact for the in-person meetings and working groups. However, the true drivers of CSLN are the community members, organizations, and activists that work to cultivate the deep relationships necessary for collaborative, intersectional change.