Request for Proposals: Businesses of Color Partnerships Fund

In July 2019, The Chicago Community Trust accepted Letters of Intent for collaborations committed to better serving entrepreneurs of color in the Chicago region. From among those who submitted LOIs, selected organizations were invited to submit proposals. Grant awards will be announced in October.


About this funding opportunity

In Chicago, small businesses comprise 58% of Chicago jobs as a whole and a full 70% in underinvested neighborhoods, according to a report by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. However, in the Chicago region, African American and Latinx-owned businesses comprise just 8% of all small businesses.

The 2018 Assessing Chicago’s Small Business Ecosystem report summarizes research on the small business ecosystem and the needs of businesses owned by women and people of color. The challenges and needs identified were:

  • Improved business service delivery
  • Enhance service options and make them more accessible
  • Expand access to business networks and capital

To support these needs, The Chicago Community Trust, The Coleman Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation and Robert R. McCormick Foundation invited Letters of Intent from organizations collaborating to better serving entrepreneurs of color.

The RFP process was designed to encourage sustainable and collaborative partnerships to support a growing and thriving community of businesses of color in Chicago and Cook County. The following components and activities were prioritized for this RFP:

  • Sustainable partnership and collaboration
  • Improved businesses readiness for and paths to capital services and procurement
  • Specialized services and mentorship by industry, business life-cycle, and professional business services
  • Access to new business networks and right-fit and culturally competent mentorship
  • New ways to deliver aforementioned holistic services and supports
  • Stronger capacity of BSOs
  • Partnerships to advance a stronger and more connected small business field of practice

The one-year grant awards will range between $50,000 to $175,000, with the possibility for renewal, to support partnerships that have a trusted relationship with entrepreneurs of color and representation of communities of color and have business service and development expertise.


Information Sessions

At three information sessions in June, the Trust’s Community Impact staff discussed the funding opportunity in detail and answered questions from grant applicants.

You can view the presentation shared at these information sessions, with details about eligibility, evaluation and more; or get more information about the process from the Frequently Asked Questions.


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