United Way of Metro Chicago Announces United Neighborhoods Equity Fund 2023 – 2025 Grantees

Small, BIPOC-led nonprofits to receive a total of $450,000 in unrestricted funds

Chicago, Ill., November 15, 2023 – United Way of Metro Chicago announced the grantees of the third cohort of the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund. The 2023–2025 cohort includes nine 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 two years to be used according to the needs of each nonprofit. The organizations and leadership of the third cohort are:

  • Anna Calix, Founder and Executive Director, Gifts From Liam – provides education, services and resources to at-risk pregnant and parenting individuals in an effort to save babies.

  • Martine Caverl, Executive Director, Ujimaa Medics (UMedics) – spreads emergency first response, community care and survival skills to access health justice and long-term wellness for all Black lives.

  • Shatina Edwards, Founder and CEO, M.E.A.N. Girls Empowerment – prevents bullying and empowers girls to avoid negativity, build self-confidence and pursue their goals through perseverance, courage and creativity.

  • Maya Zazhil Fernández, Co-Founder, 18th Street Casa de Cultura – honors and cultivates the legacy of cultural and artistic expression rooted in generational practices of Chicago’s Mexicano - Latino community by utilizing ancestral cultural conocimiento or knowledge.

  • Jackie Hoffman, Founder and Executive Director, Peace Runners 773 – empowers, educates and brings awareness to holistic health and wellness from a physical, mental and social well-being standpoint, while creating safe spaces for movement in underserved communities.

  • Diane Latiker, Founder and President, Kids Off the Block – provides at-risk low-income youth positive alternatives to gangs, drugs, truancy, violence and the juvenile justice system.

  • David Rojas Jr., Founder and CEO, The Alliance 98 (TA98) – tackles the unemployment rates for young adults 16-24 by providing meaningful career opportunities.

  • Gwen Simpson, Executive Director, All Things Through Christ Outreach Ministries – provides essential services such as a food pantry, community garden and youth job skills development and training for marginalized populations.

  • Martin Unzueta, Founder and Executive Director, Chicago Community and Workers’ Rights – educates, builds leadership and gathers resources to develop organizing tools and collective strategies of resistance against labor rights abuses and toward just living conditions for families.

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.

“With the launch of the third cohort, the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund continues to break down barriers for small nonprofits in traditionally disinvested communities,” said Sean Garrett, president and CEO of United Way of Metro Chicago. “Building thriving neighborhoods can only happen when we invest in these communities. The United Neighborhoods Equity Fund is a crucial part of United Way’s commitment to transforming neighborhoods from the inside out.”

The United Neighborhoods Equity Fund 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.

“The prosperity of our region as a whole can be elevated by maximizing the potential of all people through investments in organizations with expertise at the neighborhood level,” said Torrence Hinton, president – Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas. “It has been amazing to see how the nonprofits [a part of the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund] are transforming their communities from the inside out. They truly know what their residents need in order to thrive.”

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 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.

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About United Way of Metro Chicago United Way of Metro Chicago brings together business, government, philanthropic, individual and community leaders to deliver funding and resources 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. Learn more about United Way of Metro Chicago at LIVEUNITEDchicago.org.


Media Contact United Way of Metro Chicago – Kris Adamik, 312.906.2291, kris.adamik@LIVEUNITEDchicago.org

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