More than $6.7 Million in Grants to Lift Up Chicago’s South and West Sides

Seven neighborhood anchor projects to provide essential community services

CHICAGO – We Rise Together: For an Equitable and Just Recovery today announced it has awarded more than $6.7 million in grants to support the development of neighborhood anchor projects. The seven community-focused projects provide residents with access to services identified as much needed by community residents and that residents in other communities take for granted such as childcare, recreation and healthcare.

“These neighborhood anchor projects are an exciting step in the effort to accelerate development and drive access to resources in historically disinvested communities on Chicago’s South and West sides,” said Gloria Castillo, We Rise Together director. “By tackling barriers to economic opportunity in these communities, we are positioning our entire city and county to prosper.”

The We Rise Together grants help to build the momentum necessary to increase impact and strategically leverage private capital, public sector funds and business resources to drive equitable economic recovery. This funding highlights the critical importance of community investment stakeholders working together to increase their impact by drawing additional investments and partners in Black and Latinx communities.

Grant support for the following projects will meet the needs identified by residents in each respective community while also strengthening businesses of color and expanding access to employment:

Brown Sugar Bakery (Ashburn): Repurpose an old candy factory in an industrial corridor to expand a locally owned business of color and offer additional retail to area residents.

Esperanza Health Center (West Lawn): A new health center will create access to affordable, quality health care, living wage jobs and attract additional business activity on a commercial corridor.

Little Angels Daycare (Englewood): A new state-of-the-art facility will increase the availability of high-quality day care and facilitate Englewood residents returning to the workforce.

North Austin Community Center (Austin): A new recreational center will offer educational and recreational activities for residents and help increase economic activity for local businesses.

Ogden Commons (Lawndale): Complete phase one of the mixed-use development to improve access to quality health care, offer important community amenities and access to quality jobs for residents of North and South Lawndale.

Overton Center of Excellence (Bronzeville): Grant support will be used to leverage additional funding to establish a creative hub accessible to the community that supports arts and technology start-ups.

Vertical Harvest (Pullman): Grant support will be used to leverage additional funding to create new green technology jobs in Pullman, provide healthy food sources to food desert communities, and strengthen the local food production economy on the Southside.

“For over 40 years this land sat vacant and environmentally polluted, and through the advocacy of our entire community – including elected officials, community organizations, and residents – we have all come together to make this happen,” said John Zayas, pastor of Grace and Peace Church. “The North Austin Community Center will provide incredible education, health, and wellness opportunities, bring hundreds of local jobs, and be a positive place for our youth and families to gather. After the devastating impact of COVID-19 the center will act as a beacon of hope for healing our community.”

The grant recipients were identified based on a market map from the initiatives early planning process with input from other community development partners including The Chicago Prize, The Community Desk, Corporate Coalition and INVEST South/West. The We Rise Together team reviewed nearly 100 projects using a set of evaluations including the initiatives strategies, guiding principles, and a success criterion to evaluate the projects readiness. Select projects were invited to submit grant proposals and seven were selected based on the significant catalyzing impact they will have on their surrounding communities.

We Rise Together is an accelerator in the economic recovery to help ensure Black and Latinx communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis are not left behind, supporting a stronger region for all. In 2021, more than $14.1 million in grants have been awarded to support 17 community-driven projects aimed at revitalizing disinvested communities. Without adequate resources and a coordinated response, the damage to the Black and Latinx communities—and therefore to the region as a whole—could be irreversible.

The initiative is supported by a coalition of individual, foundation, and corporate funders, which has secured over $45 million in funding commitments to date.  We Rise Together seeks to raise $250 million over three-to-four years to advance an equitable economic recovery.

To see a complete list of supporters and learn how to contribute, visit