Thank you to everyone who attended our virtual Juneteenth event, "Sharing Our Stories: A Celebration of Community Voices", on June 17. Moderated by Tonika Lewis Johnson, social justice artist and creator of the Folded Map Project, the event featured Chicago-area community leaders who are members of United Way of Metro Chicago’s inaugural United Neighborhoods Equity Fund cohort:

- Messiah Equiano, Executive Director, Chi-Rise
- Jamila Trimuel, Founder and CEO, Ladies of Virtue
- Richard Wallace, Founder, Equity and Transformation

As Black leaders of small, local nonprofits, they shared their stories of driving positive change in historically disinvested neighborhoods. The event celebrated the incredible achievements of these individuals while acknowledging that we all play a role in learning from our history to build a stronger, more equitable future for all our neighbors. Thank you for commemorating this important holiday as a small step forward in that work.

In case you missed it, you can find our event recording here on our YouTube channel. You can also rewatch the videos of our storytellers on our YouTube and Vimeo channels.


Tonika Lewis Johnson is a photographer/social justice artist and life-long resident of Chicago’s South Side neighborhood of Englewood. She is also co-founder of two community-based organizations, Englewood Arts Collective and Resident Association of Greater Englewood, that mobilize people and resources for positive change in Greater Englewood.

Tonika's multi-media project titled "Folded Map," which illustrates Chicago's residential segregation while bringing residents together to have a conversation, was exhibited at Loyola University's Museum of Art in 2018.

Learn more about Tonika's works as a social justice artist here.


United Way of Metro Chicago, with the support of founding sponsor Peoples Gas, launched the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund (UNEF) to support small, Black and Latinx-led nonprofits predominantly located in the city’s South and West Sides and south suburban region and connect them to new capacity building and investment opportunities.

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