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“Without focused resources and a coordinated response, the damage to these individuals and communities—and therefore, to the region as a whole—could be irreversible,” according to a statement announcing the effort.

It builds on the Community Trust’s $35 million Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, which in the early months of the pandemic supported nearly 400 organizations providing emergency food and supplies, shelter, cash assistance, mental health services and broadband internet access. But Together We Rise will instead focus on reversing long-term racial and economic inequity.

Initial donors include BMO Harris Bank, the Crown Family Philanthropies, the Field Foundation, Jewel-Osco, the MacArthur Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, PepsiCo, the Pert Foundation, the Pritzker Traubert Foundation, the McCormick Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust and Vistria Group. It has the support of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. 

Together We Rise “will focus on key priorities for the city, especially increasing employment, strengthening small businesses and spurring catalytic development in underinvested neighborhoods,” according to the statement. “This will be done in tandem with the private sector, using their resources to stimulate economic growth by making balance sheet investments in underinvested neighborhoods, hiring locally, shifting lending practices and increasing supplier diversity.”

“We’re still in the process of working out some of those details,” about how investments will be distributed and how applications will work, CCT CEO Dr. Helene Gayle told reporters today. “We want to use some of those initial dollars for some projects we know are already ready to go and that demonstrate the commitment to economic growth,” including small business ecosystems.

It aims to “make an initial set of illustrative grants in December 2020,” according to its website.

One of the biggest corporate commitments is from JPMorgan Chase, which is committing an additional $600 million in lending to increase homeownership for 3,000 Black and Latino families in the Chicago area. Chase is prioritizing Chicago as part of a $30 billion commitment the bank made yesterday to closing the racial wealth gap nationally.  

WBEZ reported extensively on the impact of Chase’s lending practices, finding “that between 2012 to 2018, Chase lent less than 2 percent of its home purchase dollars in Chicago’s Black neighborhoods. Nearly 80 percent of the bank’s lending went to majority-white areas.” Not long after, Chase committed to reform.

The bank is also launching “a new program designed to help entrepreneurs in historically underserved areas access coaching, technical assistance and capital,” the statement said.

PepsiCo is also announcing $1.5 million of new programming, including a $1 million donation to Hatchery Chicago “to help more than 400 female small food-business entrepreneurs and job seekers on the South and West sides with microgrants and other wraparound services” and $300,000 dedicated to City Colleges scholarships.

Lightfoot thanked JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon in particular, who reached out this summer in the wake of WBEZ’s reporting and pledged to do better.

“We still have room for more to join us,” Lightfoot said, calling on corporations and large businesses to contribute. “This is what we need to move forward together,” to make sure Chicago is stronger than ever.

She said companies that made pledges and commitments to racial equity in the wake of George Floyd’s death should get specific and commit their dollars here. “This is your opportunity to fulfill the pledge that you already made, and do it here, to help Chicago… this is your moment to step up.”

Together We Rise will be governed by a steering committee that includes Sterling Bay principal Keating Crown, Loop Capital CEO Jim Reynolds, Crown Family Philanthropies President Evan Hochberg, Pritzker Traubert Foundation President Cindy Moelis, MacArthur Foundation President John Palfrey, Builders Initiative President Bruce McNamer, IFF Chicago region Executive Director O. Victoria Lakes-Battle, Latinos Progresando CEO Luis Gutierrez and Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative CEO Ghian Foreman.

Source of original article:John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (
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