United Way of Metro Chicago Announces United Neighborhoods Equity Fund Second Cohort Grantees

Local, BIPOC-led nonprofits to receive a total of $500,000 in unrestricted funds

Chicago, IL – October 10, 2022 - United Way of Metro Chicago announced the grantees of the second cohort of the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund (UNEF). The 2022–2024 cohort includes 10 small, BIPOC-led (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) nonprofits throughout the Chicago region. Each of the grantees will be awarded $50,000 of unrestricted funds over a two-year cycle to be used according to the needs of each nonprofit. The organizations and leadership of the second cohort include:

• Mekazin Alexander, Co-Founder and Executive Director, BA NIA Incorporated – educating, encouraging and advocating for women of color on the South Side of Chicago to become informed about their reproductive health throughout the many stages of life.

• Beulah Brent, CEO, Sisters Working It Out – serving as a catalytic force in the elimination of breast cancer disparities in the Chicagoland area through programs that educate and empower women of color as well as connect them to quality preventive health services.

• Celia Colon, Founder and CEO, Giving Others Dreams – providing direct re-entry pathway training and services through job readiness programming, re-entry coaching and mentoring services, plus holistic support through emotional and social wellness programs.

• Jackson Flores, President and Co-Founder, DishRoulette Kitchen – supporting restaurants from the ground up through effective hospitality training mixed with financial consciousness so any restaurant concept can become a sustainable, scalable business.

• Dr. Marlon Haywood, Executive Director, Urban Male Network – empowering young men to become leaders in their community through mentorship, community development and promotion of a positive urban male image.

• Lynette Kelly-Bell, Co-Executive Director, A House in Austin – supporting young families on Chicago’s West Side to become empowered, compassionate and engaging parents who strengthen the future for their families with a positive impact that is passed from generation to generation.

• Angela Lin, Co-President and Co-Founder, People Matter – creating and cultivating community leaders to do the work that they see fit for their own communities through direct service, political education and issue advocacy work.

• Adam McMath, Executive Director, Black Alphabet – delivering programming to LGBTQ+ communities that don’t normally get exposure to their stories and giving them a voice through the arts and the media.

• Esteban Rodriguez, Executive Director, Corazon Community Services – improving the quality of life for children, youth and families through holistic social services offered in a culturally sensitive environment serving the Latinx community and others in the Cicero/Berwyn area.

• Maria Ruiz, Executive Director and Founder, Un Nuevo Despertar / A New Awakening – assisting every survivor of domestic violence through intervention programs, prevention, counseling, training and education in the emotional, physical, financial and work areas to restore lives and ensure healthy families and communities.

In addition to the unrestricted funding, grantees receive two years of intensive capacity building, support from DePaul University’s nonprofit management program and opportunities to network with corporate partners, funders and with each other.

“We are thrilled to extend the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund to a second cohort of leading grassroots Chicago-area nonprofits,” said Sean Garrett, president and CEO of United Way of Metro Chicago. “These community-based organizations know what residents need to thrive. We’re honored to be partnering with them, working side by side, to build infrastructure and more equitable communities and a more prosperous Chicago region.”

UNEF is made possible with the generous support of founding sponsor Peoples Gas, which committed $1 million to the initiative, and corporate sponsors Nicor Gas, UL, Target and IMC.

“Investing in the second cohort of the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund is vital to transforming communities from the inside out,” said Torrence Hinton, president of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas. “At Peoples Gas, we are committed to making our communities a better place for all of us to live and prosper. The United Neighborhoods Equity Fund is an impactful way to invest directly in our communities and local leaders.”

United Way will assist the cohort in building capacity at the grassroots level to accelerate neighborhood-driven outcomes and mentor them to plan for long-term success. The United Neighborhoods Equity Fund was launched in September 2021 with the first cohort of 10 small, local nonprofit organizations located on Chicago’s South and West Sides and in the south suburban region. Learn more at LIVEUNITEDchicago.org/united-neighborhoods-equity-fund.


About United Way of Metro Chicago
United Way of Metro Chicago brings together businesses, government, philanthropic, individual, and community leaders to deliver funding and resources to and amplify the expertise of nonprofit organizations across greater Chicago. We help individuals meet their basic needs and work alongside neighborhood partners to address local priorities and create communities where all people can thrive. United, we are building a stronger, more equitable Chicago region. To learn more, visit LIVEUNITEDchicago.org.

Media Contact:
United Way of Metro Chicago – Kris Adamik, 312-906-2291, kris.adamik@liveunitedchicago.org

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