Chicago Fundred Initiative: A Bill for IL

last edited on Fri. May 22 2020

Using creativity to fight lead poisoning as part of Toward Common Cause

When Mel Chin, an artist and 2019 MacArthur Fellow, delivered a virtual commencement address to graduates of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago the other weekend, he issued a challenge: “as things close down, we have to summon the courage to open up. Maybe it’s not a time for words, but for action.” 

The SAIC graduates were then asked to be the first to contribute to the Chicago Fundred Initiative: A Bill for IL, a creative campaign that advances public education and community engagement through the creation and collection of Fundreds—original, hand-drawn interpretations of $100 bills. 

For the past 12 years, in cities across the country, the Fundred project has raised awareness about the invisible environmental and health threat posed by lead contamination in soil, water, and housing. Nearly half a million people have created and sent in their unique contributions to demonstrate the value we collectively place on healthier communities, lead-safe homes, equal protection from environmental pollution, and the future of all children. 

The Chicago Fundred Initiative: A Bill for IL will bring the project to Chicago for the first time. The initiative is tied to the Smart Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40, and, in summer 2021, the collected bills will be displayed at locations across the city, including Sweet Water Foundation, Hyde Park Art Center, SkyArt, and the Smart. As part of Toward Common Cause, Chin will also create a permanent sculptural intervention at Sweet Water Foundation. 

How to get involved
The Chicago Fundred initiative is a collective effort that affirms the value of individual lives and the rights of all citizens to protection from unseeable health risks. To take part:

1. Visit

2. Start with a Fundred Template. Order Fundred templates through this form or download a PDF here.

3. Draw your unique Fundred—remember, only one Fundred per person!

4. Mail your Fundred to:

Smart Museum of Art
Attn: Fundred Project
5550 S. Greenwood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

The Fundred website also includes resources like a toolkit, classroom lesson plan, and links to local public health resources.

Participation is open to all—but remember, only one Fundred per person! We are accepting submissions now and the bills will go on display beginning summer 2021.

Chicago Fundred Initiative: A Bill for IL has been developed by Mel Chin in partnership with the Smart Museum of Art and S.O.U.R.C.E. Studio. Toward Common Cause has been made possible by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.