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We Rise Together Awards $1 Million in Grants to Six Chicago Small Business Support Organizations

Funding will help business owners learn how to access the capital they need to grow.

CHICAGO (July 8, 2024) To help small business owners in Chicago overcome the challenge of accessing capital to grow their business, We Rise Together: For an Equitable & Just Recovery is providing more than $1 million in grants to six nonprofit organizations. The grants will enable the nonprofits to provide training in capital underwriting practices, equipping small businesses with the skills and knowledge they need to secure funding and expand their operations.

Supporting small businesses is one of three We Rise Together grantmaking strategies, alongside investing in community-led real estate development and increasing employment in jobs with family-sustaining wages. Many of the communities We Rise Together invests in—those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession that followed, which were predominantly Black and Latine—saw many of their small businesses close in the last few years. Research shows that not being able to access adequate capital is a significant contributing barrier to Black and Latine business owners opening their doors and staying open. Lack of credit availability is reported as a top business challenge among 26 percent of start-up companies, and 22 percent of Black and 15 percent of Latine small business owners said their profitability has been negatively affected by access to capital.

“Thriving small businesses are vital to our economy, employing 46 percent of Illinois’ workforce, but too many small businesses in Chicago’s disinvested communities struggle to stay open and grow because they cannot access capital,” said Christen Wiggins, Senior Director of Community Impact, The Chicago Community Trust. “There’s some truth to the adage ‘it takes money to make money.’ These grants will help small business owners access capital to open and thrive, creating local job opportunities, increasing owner equity, and building household and community wealth.” 

Since September 2021, We Rise Together has invested nearly $47 million toward improving the economies of Chicago’s long-disinvested communities. We Rise Together’s latest grants will support the following six organizations:

Foundation of Little Village: $200,000 to support the Foundation of Little Village’s Capital and Micro-Lending Fund to increase opportunities for capital to small business owners in Little Village and implement a technology platform to support capital readiness among their small business clients.

Greater Chatham Initiative: $200,000 to support Southside Black-owned food-based businesses by providing financial management resources, access to capital coaching for staff development, and implementing technology platforms to increase funding opportunities for small business owners.

New Covenant Community Development Corporation: $200,000 to support their existing technology platform, providing capital readiness support among clients expanding their business advising programming to include capital access support serving North Lawndale.

Northwest Side Community Development Corporation: $200,000 to support their         CRECER program to increase capital readiness and access to capital among small             business owners and expand the use of the GoTackle software platform.

Sunshine Enterprises: $200,000 to support the expansion of their Credit to Capital program by providing more opportunities to prepare clients for capital and connect clients to capital with the implementation of new business management software.

Women’s Business Development Center: $100,000 to support the launch of a new Advisory Academy professional development program module to increase the capacity of business advisors to assist small and growing enterprises in obtaining and deploying capital.  

About We Rise Together    
We Rise Together: For an Equitable & Just Recovery is a funders collaborative of more than 160 corporate, philanthropic, and individual donors making focused investments with and in long-disinvested neighborhoods hit hardest by the pandemic, which are predominantly Black and Latine. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed how chronic disinvestment exacerbated health and economic risks and left these communities uniquely vulnerable. In response, this five-year initiative, which made its first grants in September 2021, is developing a model for hyper-local community reinvestment at scale by making grants, transforming business practices, and changing policies to support investment in disinvested neighborhoods, strengthen local businesses, and increase quality, resilient employment.   

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