Every single resident of metropolitan Chicago has been impacted in some way by COVID-19. 

When the pandemic threatened to devastate our most vulnerable communities, the Trust was ready to act. Through your support, the Trust was able to throw our weight behind 10 regional COVID-19 response initiatives—sometimes as lead convener, other times as a contributor, but always in collaboration. Two themes were a constant guide in our efforts.

Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund

The Trust teamed up with the United Way of Metro Chicago to establish and co-lead this rapid-response effort, which raised and granted funds to provide emergency food, shelter, cash assistance, and other support to communities hit hardest by COVID-19. Launched in less than a week, the fund primarily served Black and Latinx communities, older adults, individuals with disabilities, undocumented community members, and people experiencing homelessness, housing instability, or wage loss. Thousands of generous individuals, foundations, and corporations stepped up to support the effort, with gifts ranging from $5 to $2.5 million.

$35 million+





grants to 432 organizations


Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kendall, Kane, McHenry, and Will Counties

50 million+

meals provided


households received primary care or mental health services

Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund

The Trust served as a key partner and fund administrator for this statewide effort that, in just five months, raised and distributed over $31 million benefitting Illinois residents who bore the brunt of COVID-19’s impact.

Supporting small businesses

Small businesses are the heart of a local economy. They were also the most likely to be critically endangered during the pandemic. To keep more doors open and lights on, the Trust co-designed and administered Cook County’s COVID-19 Recovery Small Business Assistance Program offering business coaching throughout Cook County and grants to suburban Cook County businesses. We also raised funds for and helped develop the Chicago Microbusiness Recovery Grant Program distributing $5,000 grants to up to 1,000 small businesses in severely impacted areas of Chicago. And we partnered with the City of Chicago to launch Together Now to help small businesses rebuild and recover following the social unrest of the summer.

Reaching out to artists, IMMIGRANTS, and others at risk

The Trust supported key collaborations to assist people and services in danger of falling through the cracks.

Arts for Illinois Relief Fund provided $8 million+ in emergency assistance to nearly 2,500 artists and more than 360 organizations throughout the state.

Chicago COVID-19 Journalism Fund, a consortium of funders, invested more than $425,000 in local media organizations serving diverse communities.

Community Organizing: Technology Funders Collaborative offered rapid-response grants to support innovation- and technology-based organizing strategies.

Illinois Immigration Funders Collaborative, a fund housed at
the Trust, raised $850,000 to supplement pandemic-related assistance available to immigrants from the Illinois Department of Human Services.

The Chicago Region Food System Fund, whose founding donors include Food:Land:Opportunity–a collaboration between the Trust and Kinship Foundation funded through the Searle Funds–awarded 85 grants totaling $3.97 million to nonprofits addressing hunger and food supply chain disruptions.

We Rise Together: For a Just and Equitable Future

Onward to inclusive, resilient growth

We’ve known from the beginning that this journey wouldn’t end at response. The horizon before us is much longer, and the stakes much higher.

We Rise Together: For an Equitable and Just Recovery is an unprecedented collaboration across philanthropy, business, government, nonprofits, and communities to build the Chicago region back better, stronger, and more just following the social, economic, and health crises of 2020.

Hosted at the Trust, We Rise Together: For an Equitable and Just Recovery focuses on three key priorities:




It will take all of us working together to realize our shared vision for the Chicago region’s equitable economic recovery. Join us.