For more than 100 years, The Chicago Community Trust has convened, supported, funded and accelerated the work of community members and change-makers committed to strengthening the Chicago region. From building up our civic infrastructure to spearheading our response to the Great Recession, the Trust has brought our community together to face pressing challenges and seize our greatest opportunities. Today, that means confronting the racial and ethnic wealth gap.
One may wonder how we arrived at this decision. For the better part of a year, our team explored pressing issues impacting our communities, from education to health and public safety. It quickly became clear that some of the region’s biggest challenges stem from racial and ethnic wealth inequality—and that the Chicago region will not be able to realize its potential until it tackles this systemic issue. As a result, we have decided to focus our discretionary funds to address the region’s fundamental challenge: racial and ethnic wealth inequity.
The numbers are staggering and the effect has been crippling.
- In Chicago, 32.6 percent of Black households and 25.6 percent of Latinx households have zero net worth, compared to 18.1 percent of white households.
- Chicago is alone among its peers in the top-10 metro areas in the U.S. to lose population in recent years and our economic growth lags far behind, ranking 67th among the country’s 100 largest metropolitan economies.
- Experts estimate that the region would gain $4.4 billion annually and the gross domestic product would rise by approximately $8 billion if the region were less segregated.
We believe our response to these disparities will determine our region’s future. Our vision is a thriving, equitable and connected Chicago region where people of all races, places and identities have the opportunity to reach their potential. To achieve this, we plan to tackle wealth inequity at the household, neighborhood, and community level:
- Connect philanthropy to impact to increase giving that leverages the expertise of the Trust to mobilize resources that advance equity and opportunity.
- Address critical needs to provide stability to individuals, families and communities throughout the region.
- Build collective power to give Black and Latinx residents a voice in determining what is best for their communities.
- Catalyze neighborhood investment to revitalize disinvested black and Latinx communities.
- Grow household wealth to increase the share in economic prosperity for Black and Latinx individuals and families.
- Advocate for policy change efforts to reform discriminatory systems and policies that are barriers to wealth creation.
There is no secret switch to undo decades of discriminatory practices, let alone the consequences of centuries of racism and racial and economic segregation. The work is hard, but we are up to the challenge. Building on the Trust’s legacy, we will marshal community investments, elevate community voices, advance policies and inspire philanthropic support for initiatives that demonstrably contribute to closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap and lead to a thriving, equitable and connected Chicago region. We hope you will join us on this journey.
By the numbers
The wealth gap between White, Black and Latinx households in the Chicago metropolitan area has been on the rise for a half-century. More than a matter of dollars and cents, the wealth gap is about the loss of investment in human capital and human potential. Facts about the wealth gap
Questions and Answers
Looking for more information about what this means for the region, or for you as a partner of The Chicago Community Trust? Check out our answers to frequently asked questions about the strategic plan. We’ve also compiled a list of what you can do to help address the racial wealth gap in your community, place of work and business.