Pre-Development Fund

The Pre-Development Fund was created primarily to support commercial real estate development projects, businesses with brick-and-mortar needs, and neighborhood scale land use projects that will stimulate economic activity in disinvested communities.

Photo: PODER Learning Center

Grant Amount: Up to $100,000 (average grant is $75,000)
Project Scope: Submit at any time (link below)
Full Application: Invite only, dependent on Project Scope review
Award Announcement: Approximately eight weeks after Full Application review
Award Disbursement: Full amount, in a single payment
Grant Term: 12 months from time of approval; Pre-Development Fund grants must be spent within one year (grant extensions must be approved by Trust staff)
Grant Type: Project Based
Grant Geography: Cook County (priority to disinvested communities)

Background

The Chicago Community Trust is committed to the goal of closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap. Catalyzing Neighborhood Investment is one of the strategies helping to achieve this goal. The strategy focuses on the ecosystem that conditions how investment happens in underinvested majority Black and Latinx communities.

The Pre-Development Fund was created primarily to support commercial real estate development projects, businesses with brick-and-mortar needs, and neighborhood scale land use projects that will stimulate economic activity in disinvested communities. Examples include retail and office uses, transit-oriented and mixed-use developments (which can include housing), and the adaptive reuse of obsolete buildings and infrastructure into community amenities. Businesses with brick-and-mortar needs must incorporate community-focused elements through design or programming to qualify for a grant from the Pre-Development Fund.

Before You Begin

The Pre-Development Fund is for projects at the pre-development stage. Activities that fall in the planning stage (too premature) or construction stage (too advanced) will not be eligible. See “qualified expenses” section for insight into the type of services covered under pre-development.

Outright site ownership is strongly preferred but the Pre-Development Fund will accept projects with a clearly articulated path to site ownership in the immediate future (e.g., purchase agreement, acquisition letter). Lease agreements are not an accepted form of site control. Lessors (property owners) are welcome to apply as the grant recipient of record. Applicants will need to articulate a high-level overview of the intended building use and development plan. The primary purpose of the Pre-Development Fund is to help actionable projects gain traction.

The Pre-Development Fund will not make grants to projects that are exclusively social services, supportive housing, charter schools, workforce development facilities and other critical needs uses. The Pre-Development was created to support enterprise-focused projects that historically have not had access to philanthropic funding.

Qualified Expenses

Examples include:

  • Architect and engineer services (planning, conceptual design, schematic design and/or structural testing)
  • Other consultants (e.g., development consultants)
  • Environmental expenses (e.g., Phases I/II, Hazardous Materials Survey, Remediation Plans)
  • Legal expense (e.g, zoning, finance, acquisition)
  • Market study to confirm the real estate use
  • Application fees (e.g., loan applications)
  • Site development project manager (third-party cost only)
  • Third-party community engagement and planning (feedback and input directly related to project site)
  • Fiscal sponsor fees

2024 Project Scope

Completing a project scope is relatively easy, the Google form can take as few as 10 minutes. Each applicant will receive a copy of your submission and retain the ability to access and edit your project scope all the way up to the project scope deadline.

  • Deadline 1: Feb. 1st
    Review Complete: Feb. 29th
  • Deadline 2: May 30th
    Review Complete: June. 27th
  • Deadline 3: Sept. 26th
    Review Complete: Oct. 24th

2025 Project Scope

  • Deadline 1: Jan. 30th 
    Review Complete: Feb. 27th

All applicants will receive notification that their project scope was received and is under review the Monday following each project scope deadline. Roughly four weeks following each deadline applicants will be notified of their project scope submittal status (advanced/declined). 

Advanced project scopes will receive an email will full instructions on how to access/navigate GrantCentral and how to access/complete the full Pre-Development Fund application. 

Resources

Please reference our resources below:

Watch and listen to testimonials:

For More Information

For technical questions about your GrantCentral application, please contact our grants management staff at grants@cct.org.

For questions about this funding opportunity, please contact Christen Wiggins at cwiggins@cct.org.

For General Inquiries

info@cct.org 312-616-8000

How to Apply

The Trust awards grants to organizations whose work is consistent with our mission and our current priorities. Learn about the application process and eligibility.

How to Apply

What We Fund

Our grants are not just checks, not just points on a map. Our grants are lifelines, connecting individual donors with people and families striving for a better life.

What We Fund