Fund to Help Neighborhoods Benefit from 2016 Olympics
February 11, 2008 | Press Release | Community & Economic Development

MacArthur, The Chicago Community Trust, the McCormick Tribune Foundation, and the Polk Bros. Foundation today announced that they are establishing a multi-million dollar fund to support the city’s Olympic bid and ensure it provides lasting benefits to Chicago’s neighborhoods and residents.

The 2016 Olympics Fund for Chicago Neighborhoods will make grants to help neighborhoods affected by the Olympics participate and benefit from planning for this global event. Funding likely will support city and community planning, education, employment and training services, affordable housing, research, and business, commercial, and retail development in the communities where Olympic venues will be located. These include Washington Park, Englewood, Grand Boulevard, Kenwood, Woodlawn, and Douglas Park on the South Side and East Garfield Park, Near West, Pilsen, Little Village, and North Lawndale on the West Side.

The MacArthur and McCormick Tribune Foundations and the Chicago Community Trust will contribute $1 million each to start the Fund; an additional $500,000 contribution comes from the Polk Bros. Foundation. Additional support from foundations and the business community is expected to increase the Fund to $5 to $8 million. The Fund is expected to begin making grants by April.

“There is no doubt that hosting the Olympics would bolster Chicago’s standing as a global city,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton. “We want to make sure it will also benefit directly Chicago’s neighborhoods and residents for the long-term.”

“The overarching interest of the International Olympic Committee is to ensure that the Olympic Games leave a lasting legacy for the benefit of the residents of the host city,” said Terry Mazany, President of The Chicago Community Trust. “The resources of Chicago’s foundations will help connect the dreams and aspirations of our diverse neighborhoods with the opportunities made possible by the Games.”

“We believe that strong local communities are vital to our nation’s civic health, and we are proud to be a part of an initiative that focuses first on people and on neighborhoods,” said David Grange, President and Chief Executive Officer of the McCormick Tribune Foundation. “We should never lose sight of the fact that Chicago is a world-class city whose heart beats in the communities. With this commitment, we can be a role model for the Games and an inspiration to other cities.”

“Engaging the most directly-impacted communities early in the planning process will build even greater enthusiasm for hosting the Olympics and will ensure that the broad support results in a significant legacy for the people of Chicago’s neighborhoods,” said Sandra P. Guthman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Polk Bros. Foundation.

Grant strategies will focus on contributions that add to the legacy of the Olympic Games, revitalizing and stabilizing neighborhoods with a mix of affordable as well as market rate housing, strengthening public transportation infrastructure and transit-oriented development, and increasing levels of education and employment. Specifically, grants are intended for –

  • Planning and seed funds for revitalization of affected neighborhoods, including housing, transit and commercial development;
  • Help for neighborhoods to take advantage of the influx of tourists and to showcase Chicago’s rich heritage of music, ethnic food and architecture;
  • An inventory of the likely jobs related to the Olympics, in the hospitality, construction, security and other industries, and support for training and other ways for residents to gain access to these employment opportunities; and
  • Training and other support for local entrepreneurs to take advantage of the business opportunities to be generated by the Games.

Special attention will be paid to activities that will benefit the neighborhoods and their residents even if Chicago is not the successful Olympics bidder.

Chicago’s leading foundations have long collaborated to support community efforts to revitalize neighborhoods, create jobs and economic vitality, environmental sustainability, and improve education. Creating the Fund enables them to contribute by doing what they do best – making grants to strengthen communities and create opportunity for individuals and families.

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