A Fund to Create a More Equitable Chicago

Historic disinvestment in Black and brown communities throughout Chicago has led to the current racial, social, and economic issues impacting families and residents in the city’s south and west sides and south suburban region.

New research by Echoing Green and The Bridgespan Group has shown that leaders of color face challenges connecting to funders, building rapport, and securing and sustaining support for culturally relevant strategies. This has led to significant disparities in investment, including Black-led organizations dedicated to improving outcomes for Black men having revenue that is 45% lower than organizations with white leaders. UNEF is a philanthropic commitment to addressing these barriers and creating a more equitable and just Chicago.

Benefits of the Fund

Unrestricted Funding
Each grantee will be awarded $50,000 of unrestricted funds (over a 2-year cycle) to be used according to the needs of each agency

Capacity Building
Spend 24 months engaging in individual and group capacity building sessions with DePaul University faculty and other professionals

Networking & Relationships
Join a cohort with agency peers, build new cross-sector relationships, and network with potential funders and investors

Grant Guidelines

The Fund is intended to support small organizations located on Chicago’s south and west sides and south suburban region, ideally aligned with United Way of Metro Chicago’s Neighborhood Network coalitions. Organizations will have Black or brown leadership, be rooted and respected in local communities, and have an interest in building new capacity.

For questions regarding UNEF or the application process, please email CommunityImpact@LIVEUNITEDchicago.org

Eligibility Requirements for Applicants:

Black/brown leadership

Budget of less than $1,000,000

501c3 status or fiscal sponsor

Grassroots organizations supporting community work at the intersection of economic development and social services

Nominated by a United Way Network lead agency, UNEF corporate partner, or United Way staff member

Working on Chicago’s south side, west side, or in the south suburban region, ideally aligned with one of United Way’s Neighborhood Network coalitions

Application and grant cycle timeline:

August 15, 2021 – Applications Due

August 23, 2021 – Grantees Notified

September 1, 2021 – Grantees Announced and year 1 granting cycle begins

Sponsors and Partners

Peoples Gas is the founding sponsor of the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund

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Nicor Gas is a corporate sponsor of the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund

Target is a corporate sponsor of the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund

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UL is a corporate sponsor of the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund

DePaul University is the academic partner for the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund

Give Money.

Invest in people. Invest in your neighborhood. Invest in a stronger Chicago.


Give Time.

Share your time. Share your talents. Share your love for community.

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