Creating Change through Mealtime Conversations


Coffee and conversation about economic vitality in a Bronzeville cafe, talking with neighbors against the backdrop of a community garden, bringing together gang members on the South Side to address violence, intergenerational discussions about the political process and more – this week, in every neighborhood in Chicago and throughout the suburbs, thousands of residents gathered in civic dialogue as part of The Chicago Community Trust’s On the Table where mealtime conversations set the stage for participants to meet others, share ideas and explore ways to take action to improve our region.

JT is proud to be a part of the Trust’s  project team or the fifth straight year of this powerful civic engagement initiative, providing strategic counsel, outreach and media relations support.

The Trust now challenges participants to turn their ideas into tangible actions to benefit neighborhoods and the public good. The Trust’s  Acting Up awards will provide up to $150,000 – ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 – to On the Table participants who have ideas for community impact coming out of their conversations. Apply at

Born in Chicago, On the Table has truly sparked a national movement. More than 25 communities nationally and internationally have replicated the initiative, including a cohort of 10 cities who have replicated the project with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and counsel from the JT team.


As a follow up to these conversations, the Trust is hoping to hear from you. They have partnered with national research firms Hart Research Associates and Public Opinion Strategies to conduct a survey to learn respondents’ opinions about their community. The survey is open to everyone across the region – those who participated in On the Table conversations over the past five years and those who did not. Results will be shared with the community this summer. You can access the survey here.

All photos courtesy of The Chicago Community Trust