RFP: Catalyzing Neighborhood Investment – Flexible Funding Program – Collaborative Fund

RFP release: June 7, 2021
Information sessions: Wednesday, June 16, 1-2 p.m.; Monday, June 21, 3-4 p.m.; and Tuesday, June 29, 10-11 a.m. Click here to RSVP for an info session.
Full application deadline: Rolling* / For the upcoming cycle – July 9, 2021
Funding decision: Rolling, depends on submission date / For the upcoming cycle: early August
Announcement: Rolling, depends on submission date / For upcoming cycle: Applicants will be notified of awards from August 23-30. Those applicants who were not chosen for funding also will be notified at this time.

*Subsequent grant making cycles:


Application Submitted by
September 10 October 22 January 7

Site Visit (phone call, zoom session, or in-person meeting)
August 23 – September 17 October 4 – October 29 December 13 – January 14, 2022

Final Decision
Mid-October Early December Mid-February

October 25-29 December 13-17 February 21-25

Please keep in mind that it may take three to four months to receive funding if approved, timing is subject to change based on submission date and staff capacity. 


Catalyzing Neighborhood Investment is one of the strategies helping to achieve closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap in the Chicago region. In 2020, the Trust’s Catalyzing Neighborhood Investment team launched the Flexible Funding Program. The program supports and builds the capacity of organizations to engage with community partnerships, increase investment opportunities, and concentrate and coordinate community action to increase the amount and impact of investment that is more aligned to community priorities. The program provides three types of “flexible” dollars to help community-based organizations attract, retain and own the investment that happens in their communities: general operating dollars support the organization’s mission; capacity-building dollars support administrative and strategic needs of the organization; and collaborative dollars support the organization’s ability to partner with others.

Need/Opportunity Statement

Collaboration across organizations, communities and sectors is often necessary to address complex challenges in our neighborhoods. Collaborations allow for more effective coordination of services and programs and can help to address the root causes of entrenched challenges such as neighborhood development, the racial wealth gap, displacement, and other factors impacting disinvested communities.  Currently, community-based organizations are being called into partnership at much greater frequency. Although the increase of collective efforts has great promise to drive more inclusive economies in communities, the Flexible Funding Program recognizes that organizations face fundamental barriers and limitations that inhibit their ability to participate in collaborative work that can lead to positive economic and community change.

The Flexible Funding Program’s Collaborative Fund pay for the time it takes to partner with others on committees, working groups and other activities that advance neighborhood investment initiatives.

Goals & Outcomes

Recipients of the Flexible Funding Program’s Collaborative Fund will participate in collaborative tables that advance a neighborhood investment agenda and strengthen our region’s capacity to address urgent and longstanding problems.


  • Increased community-driven financial investment for development in disinvested communities

Short-Term Outcome

  • Increased multi-stakeholder and/or cross-sector partnerships aligned to driving community-driven investments


  • # of collaboration hours and partners over the duration of the grant
  • Total financial resources applied/secured for the project by organization

Increase Organization or Coalition Capacity: Captures the change in organizational or coalition capacity. Given the Collaborative Fund focus on the expansion of networks and support of local neighborhood-led agendas, the final reporting will be done verbally to collect data on progress towards:

  • Increase Coalition, Constituent and Organizational Power: Details the change in constituent and/or organizational influence among key audiences.
  • Expand Partnerships Opportunities: Tracks the organization’s ability to engage and sustain partnerships with public and/or private organizations.

Priority Strategies & Activities

The Collaborative Fund supports initiatives working together to accomplish: (a) coordination among different groups; (b) greater degree and effective collaboration, (c) enhanced sharing of data and knowledge within connected networks. These funds may be used to support organizations already engaged in local work or to add new voices and build new partnerships that align with the Catalyzing Neighborhood Investment strategy to attract, retain and own capital investments.

Grant Type


Grant Amounts Available & Grant Term

The Flexible Funding Program’s Collaborative Fund will award 12-month grants that range from $2,500 to $25,000 to support an organization’s collaboration needs. Actual grant amounts will depend on identified funding needs, as well as project scale, complexity, and overall local or regional impact.

These funds will be made available to eligible organizations for their participation at collaborative tables that aim to deliver neighborhood investment solutions to communities Eligible applicants may include:

  • Individual nonprofit organizations with operating budgets under $1 million, or
  • Individual group working through a nonprofit fiscal agent.

The Chicago Community Trust will make up to 30 total grants under the Flexible Funding Program’s Collaborative Fund opportunity, per year.

For more information about the criteria and application for this RFP, please visit GrantCentral, The Chicago Community Trust’s online grants management system.

Download a PDF of the Collaborative Fund RFP