On top of decades of wealth inequity, the pandemic has taken the heaviest toll on Black and Latinx communities and threatened metropolitan Chicago’s ability to prosper and be competitive. For our region to achieve lasting recovery and growth, there is only one path forward: building an economy that works for everyone.
A vision this ambitious requires all hands on deck. That’s why the Trust launched We Rise Together: For an Equitable & Just Recovery, a coalition of corporate and philanthropic funders and communities working to accelerate equity in the region’s economic recovery so that we can all rise out of this pandemic stronger.
Join Us. It will take all of us working together to realize our shared vision for a more inclusive, resilient Chicago economy. To learn how you can get involved, visit wrtogether.org.
WE RISE TOGETHER’S GOALS
INCREASE QUALITY, RESILIENT EMPLOYMENT
STRENGTHEN BLACK AND LATINX-OWNED BUSINESSES
SPUR DEVELOPMENT IN DISINVESTED NEIGHBORHOODS
WE RISE TOGETHER: YEAR ONE IMPACTS
BUSINESSES COMMITTED TO MORE INCLUSIVE PRACTICES
INVESTING IN A BETTER REGION
It will take much more than one grant or one funder to close the racial and ethnic wealth gap.
That’s why the Trust is proud to work alongside our many partners in philanthropy, government, communities, and business who have committed their time and resources to reversing the historic disinvestment in Black and Latinx neighborhoods.
The more we all invest in our neighbors, the better our region can be—for all of us.
POWERED BY PARTNERSHIP, WE’RE MOVING OUR REGION FORWARD.
In 2021, the Trust made more than $26 million in grants to organizations working to address critical needs and support wealth building in Chicago’s Black and Latinx neighborhoods. Our investments are well aligned with those of other equity-focused initiatives focused on the South and West sides: We Rise Together, the City of Chicago’s INVEST South/West and Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, the Pritzker Traubert Foundation’s Chicago Prize, and more.
Neighborhoods like North and South Lawndale on the city’s West Side exemplify how multi-layered investments from the Trust and our partners are driving economic growth and supporting community organizations to make lasting change.
The Chicago Community Trust strategic grants
We Rise Together grants
Pritzker Traubert Chicago Prize sites
Projects Funded by the City of Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund
When community-serving organizations have access to resources, they know how to put them to work improving their neighborhoods.
NORTH LAWNDALE EMPLOYMENT NETWORK
Since 1999, thousands of Chicagoans returning from incarceration or facing other barriers to employment have found pathways to work through North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN). The organization provides skills training, job readiness programs, and financial coaching. It also runs Sweet Beginnings, a job training program where people learn to care for honey bees and make the beelove® line of honey-based products.
In 2021, NLEN opened the doors to its first permanent campus, a beautifully renovated 20,000-square-foot former bank building in North Lawndale. In addition to the NLEN program facilities, residents can enjoy sweet treats and drinks at the beelove® café, and a Wintrust Bank location is helping community members access equitable banking products.
To buy and renovate the building, NLEN received $2.5 million from the City of Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grant program and an $8 million New Markets Tax Credit allocation from the Chicago Development Fund, with Chase Bank serving as equity investor. IFF also supported the project with two bridge loans totaling $5.875 million. An additional investment of $495,000 from We Rise Together put NLEN closer to its goal of finishing the project almost debt-free.
“None of us can do this work alone. With the support of our incredible partners, NLEN remains committed to restoring the self-worth of our most economically vulnerable residents and improving the quality of life for our community, through our human-centered approach, job training, and financial education services.”
BRENDA PALMS BARBER | PRESIDENT AND CEO, NORTH LAWNDALE EMPLOYMENT NETWORK
FOUNDATION OF LITTLE VILLAGE
Founded in 2018, the Foundation of Little Village (formerly the Little Village Community Foundation) is dedicated to advancing the economic growth and vitality of its Southwest Side community.
In 2019, the Foundation received one of its first-ever philanthropic grants from the Fund for Equitable Business Growth—a funding collaborative that includes the Trust, donor advised funds, and other local foundations. The grant, which was renewed the following year, supported the Foundation’s bilingual small business incubator program, Xquina.
When the COVID-driven economic crisis threatened plans to convert an old building into a state-of-the-art home for Xquina, an additional $675,000 grant from We Rise Together allowed development to continue. Once complete, the combination café, commercial kitchen, and co-working space will enable the Foundation to deliver more than 5,000 hours of education and mentorship to more than 40 new small businesses per year.
“Each investment has brought us closer to our vision of a 26th Street corridor made more vibrant and healthier through flourishing small businesses.”
KIM CLOSE | CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, FOUNDATION OF LITTLE VILLAGE