Civic Leadership for Chicago's Neighborhoods

The Partnership for New Communities, which operated from 2001 to May 2012, was a group of business, civic and foundation leaders working together to support Chicago's Plan for Transformation—the largest and most ambitious reconstruction of public housing in the country's history. Co-founded by The Chicago Community Trust and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Partnership was structured as a donor advised fund of the Trust and operated with a 15-member Advisory Committee and full-time staff that ranged from two to four people.

The Partnership broke new ground as a cross-sector, collaborative effort to address complex urban issues over the course of a decade. It focused its work in two areas deemed the most critical and where greatest impact could be achieved:

  • Workforce development for public housing residents: In what came to be the heart of its work, The Partnership co-founded Opportunity Chicago, a collaborative initiative aimed at helping 5,000 public housing residents prepare for and find employment over five years (2006-2010). Along with its key partners—Chicago Housing Authority, City of Chicago and Chicago Jobs Council—and many others, The Partnership helped Opportunity Chicago exceed its goal, ultimately placing 5,185 residents in employment, despite the worst economic recession in decades. Opportunity Chicago also strengthened the public workforce development system's ability to serve public-housing residents and other low-skilled, low-income workers.
  • Economic revitalization of neighborhoods most affected by the Plan: With relatively small but strategic investments, The Partnership helped breathe economic life into the local business communities of Chicago's Near West Side and Bronzeville neighborhoods. Among other notable examples, Partnership grants funded the 2008 launch of the successful Bronzeville Community Market, which continues today, and helped revive the long-dormant Chamber of Commerce on the Near West Side.


The following figures highlight some of The Partnership's accomplishments.

Total amount granted $17 million
Grants awarded 81
Grant recipients 36
Amount of average grant $209,876
Funders 24
Public-housing resident job placements
through Opportunity Chicago
Money raised $20 million


Read more about The Partnership for New Communities, its accomplishments and the arc of its work:


Read more about Opportunity Chicago:


Job Training through The Partnership

Healthier Neighborhoods through The Partnership

Accessible Child Care through The Partnership