Together We Rise Initiative Launches to Help Chicago Region Build Back Better from The Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19

Initiative – comprising philanthropic and corporate commitments – seeks to advance an equitable recovery, specifically focused on Black and Latinx communities and residents historically left behind.

CHICAGO (October 08, 2020) – To harness the Chicago region’s momentum, energy, and generosity to tackle the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 and the deep-seated inequities amplified by the pandemic, The Chicago Community Trust announces the launch of Together We Rise: the initiative for an equitable and just recovery with more than $25 million in initial philanthropic contributions, in addition to corporate commitments outlined below.

Together We Rise will unite partners across philanthropy, business, government, nonprofits, and communities to assure the communities most hard hit economically by the COVID-19 pandemic can build back better, stronger, and more resilient. A steering committee will lead the multi-pronged initiative, which will pool and distribute philanthropic resources to contribute to our region’s equitable economic recovery.

Additionally, the initiative will align business practices and policies that foster economic equity. Business practices might include procurement commitments, hiring commitments, and other in-kind catalytic contributions. Policies could include workforce and income support such as earned income tax credit, and policies that incentivize investment in disinvested communities.

COVID-19 has dealt the Chicago region a devastating set of interrelated health, economic, and social crises. Nowhere are its effects felt worse than in Black and Latinx communities, where disparate economic and health outcomes were already the norm after decades of disinvestment, systemic racism, and structural inequities. 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.

“There is no greater time than now for us to reimagine our future as we rebuild stronger by focusing on inclusive, resilient growth that places Black and Latinx communities, historically left behind, at the center of our recovery,” said Helene Gayle, president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust. “As the region’s community foundation, we stand committed to working alongside diverse stakeholders to reimagine systems that perpetuate racial and ethnic wealth inequity.”

“COVID-19 has exacerbated the inequities Black and brown communities face in terms of disinvestment, access to health care, food insecurity, lack of economic opportunity, language barriers, and other forms of inequity,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Public, private, and local partnerships are critical to ensuring equity in our recovery.”

“COVID-19 has taken a devastating toll on our Black and brown communities, undoubtedly due to the disproportionate levels of poverty and inequity they have faced for decades,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “As a result, our response to COVID-19 must also address these deep-rooted issues. Thanks to the Together We Rise initiative, we will be able to do just that. I am proud to partner with The Chicago Community Trust and every philanthropy, business, nonprofit, and community that has signed onto this effort and look forward to working together to rise above COVID-19 and the systemic inequalities it has brought to the surface.”

This initiative represents private corporations and public entities coming together to ensure that Chicago not only recovers from this pandemic but reinvents itself as one of the most diverse and thriving regions in the U.S. over the years to come. Together We Rise will focus on key priorities for the city to achieve this shared vision, particularly increasing employment, strengthening small businesses, and spurring catalytic development in underinvested neighborhoods. 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, expanding lending programs, and increasing procurement diversity.

“The health and economic impacts of COVID-19 have been disastrous for the Latino and Black communities in Chicago,” said Luis Gutierrez, founder and CEO of Latinos Progresando, and Together We Rise Steering Committee member. “And while it will take time to really address the underlying issues that have created this disparity, we can only recover if all of us–community, civic, corporate and government–are working together.”

“I grew up and continue to work on Chicago’s South Side,” said Ghian Foreman, CEO, Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative and Together We Rise Steering Committee member. “I know from experience how severely our communities have suffered from historic disinvestment. Having spent my career dedicated to bringing new investment, stimulating economic growth, and making sure our community has a voice in the process. Together We Rise is an opportunity of a lifetime to reverse decades of decline.”

As anchor corporate supporters of Together We Rise, PepsiCo and JPMorgan Chase today announced new commitments to their businesses to support equitable recovery in Chicago, including:

JPMorgan Chase has prioritized the city in the roll-out of its nationwide initiatives to address racial inequities in the U.S. The firm is committing to increase homeownership among 3,000 Black and Latinx families in the Chicago region, including the South and West sides of Chicago, through an additional $600 million in home lending to these families over the next five years. Through this new commitment, JPMorgan Chase will expand low down payment loan programs and increase grants for homebuying.

Specifically, JPMorgan Chase is:

  • Amplifying outreach and education of Chase’s DreaMaker product to help make homeownership more affordable on the South and West sides;
  • Doubling its special homebuyer grant to $5,000 to help customers with the upfront costs of buying a new home;
  • Increasing closing cost assistance to $2,500 when refinancing with DreaMaker and providing an additional $500 when completing a homebuyer education course; and
  • Hiring local home lending advisors on the South and West sides to provide in-person advice and education around the homebuying process.
  • To help grow Black and Latinx-owned businesses, JPMorgan Chase introduces a new program designed to help entrepreneurs in historically underserved areas access coaching, technical assistance, and capital. The new nationwide program has launched in Chicago with local consultants who will provide more than 1,500 Black and Latinx-owned small businesses with 1:1 mentorship and digital education to help grow their businesses.

    Over the next few weeks and months, the firm says it will share more on plans to build better banking access, improve financial health, and increase diverse local hiring.

    “Every Chicagoan should have equal access to banking and homeownership, and we all have work to do to make this happen. We’re pleased to join Mayor Lightfoot in support of the ‘Together We Rise’ initiative by making long-term commitments to increase homeownership among Black and Latinx families in Chicago,” said Curtis Reed, Chicago Market Leader, JPMorgan Chase. “The firm is also taking steps to expand access for Chicagoans to traditional banking and financial health programs, including on the South and West sides of the city while launching new ways to support Black and Brown-owned businesses.”

    PepsiCo builds on its more than 30-year history in the city, committing to invest more than $500,000 annually in Chicago’s South and West side communities in areas such as job training and youth development. The organization is announcing $1.5 million of new programming, including:

  • $1 million to The 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;
  • Extending PepsiCo’s three-year, $300,000 partnership with City Colleges of Chicago for another five years to provide scholarships and wraparound support for students seeking trade and certificate education;
  • Distributing 100,000 nutritious meals this fall and winter through PepsiCo’s Food for Good nutrition program with partners such as La Casa Norte and other local nonprofits; and
  • Additional commitments for Black-owned restaurants.
  • “COVID-19 has once again put a spotlight on the deep-rooted health and economic disparities that have long faced communities of color,” said Neil Pryor, president, PepsiCo Beverages North America Central Division. “As a member of the Chicago community for more than 30 years with deep roots here, we’re committed to supporting the city’s long-term recovery. PepsiCo will be investing more than $500,000 annually in neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides. We will also continue to do our part as a partner to these communities through service, employment, and civic engagement in the months and years ahead.”

    Together We Rise is governed by a steering committee with strong representation from the nonprofit, philanthropic, business, and community sectors. Inaugural members include:

  • Keating Crown, Sterling Bay
  • Ghian Foreman, Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative
  • Luis Gutierrez, Latinos Progresando
  • Evan Hochberg, Crown Family Philanthropies
  • Vickie Lakes-Battle, IFF
  • Bruce McNamer, Builders Initiative
  • Cindy Moelis, Pritzker Traubert Foundation
  • John Palfrey, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Jim Reynolds, Loop Capital
  • Together We Rise will learn from and build upon the work of existing networks, coalitions, and initiatives to maximize impact and ensure shared ownership of the region’s future. It will work very closely in alignment with other ongoing initiatives across the city, including but not limited to the City of Chicago’s Recovery Task Force work that launched early this summer, the INVEST South/West initiative that launched in late 2019, the Corporate Coalition, and Pritzker Traubert Foundation’s Chicago Prize initiative.

    Together We Rise is supported by a coalition of public and private sector funders. Initial contributors include BMO Harris Bank, The Coleman Foundation, Corporate Coalition, Crown Family Philanthropies, Field Foundation, Jewel-Osco, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, PepsiCo, Northern Trust, PERT Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, Pritzker Traubert Foundation, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, and the Vistria Group.

    This initiative succeeds the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, which raised nearly $35 million to meet people’s immediate needs at the onset of the pandemic. Funds raised supported nearly 400 organizations providing emergency food and supplies access, shelter, cash assistance, mental health services, and broadband internet access. The Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund was led by the Trust and United Way of Metro Chicago in collaboration with the City of Chicago and a coalition of public and private sector funders that included foundations, businesses and Chicago’s sports teams, and more than 5,000 individual donors.

    For more information about the Together We Rise initiative, visit www.cct.org/togetherwerise.

    About The Chicago Community Trust

    The Chicago Community Trust is a community foundation dedicated to strengthening the Chicago region and improving the lives of the people who call it home. For more than 100 years, the Trust has served as a trusted philanthropic partner, connecting donors’ generosity with community needs by making grants to nonprofit organizations working to create lasting change. Following the creation of a new strategic plan in 2019, the Trust stands committed to addressing Chicago’s legacy of systemic inequity and closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap while responding to our most vulnerable residents’ critical needs. The Trust administers more than $360 million in annual grantmaking as part of its commitment to equity, opportunity and prosperity for the Chicago region. To learn more, visit www.cct.org.