A Fund to Create a More Equitable Chicago

Historic disinvestment in BIPOC communities throughout Chicago has led to the current racial, social, and economic issues impacting families and residents on the city’s South and West Sides and in the 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


2022 – 2024 GRANT GUIDELINES

The Fund is intended to support small organizations located on Chicago’s South and West Sides and in the south suburban region, ideally aligned with United Way of Metro Chicago’s Neighborhood Network coalitions. Organizations with BIPOC leadership, rooted and respected in local communities, and with an interest in building new capacity are encouraged to apply.

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



Eligibility requirements for applicants:

BIPOC Founder or Executive Director

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 or 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, 2022 – Applications Due

September 6, 2022 – Grantees Notified

September 9, 2022 – Grantees Announced



2021 – 2023 UNEF GRANTEES

10 BIPOC nonprofit leaders and their organizations are awarded $50,000 of unrestricted funds over a two-year cycle to be used according to the needs of each nonprofit.

To learn more about each of the grantees, click on each of the below names to read the grantee bios, hear firsthand stories from our grantees on Vimeo, or read the 2021-2023 UNEF Grantee Announcement Press Release.


Sponsors and Partners

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

IMC is a corporate sponsor of the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund

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

Target is a corporate sponsor of the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund

UL is a corporate sponsor of the United Neighborhoods Equity Fund

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