Vital Communities

Investing targeted resources in a small number of place-based initiatives and organizations that provide infrastructure support to neighborhoods


We have supported neighborhood revitalization in the Chicago metropolitan area since our founding. We have learned important lessons from four decades of investing in constructive community change—for example, the importance of investments in not only individual programs and projects but also in the strength of neighborhoods. We find that when local partners work together across areas of interest, organizations significantly increase positive outcomes in areas such as youth programming and violence prevention, affordable housing and commercial development, and foreclosure prevention and mitigation.

Our Approach

Building on a long history of support for neighborhoods, we target resources to a small number of: 

  • Place-based initiatives—established and emerging collaborations that engage a cross section of individuals, organizations, and institutions to affect positive change in neighborhoods and clusters of communities in the Chicago metropolitan area; and
  • Infrastructure support organizations—entities that conduct planning, management and technical assistance, policy research, evaluation, and data analysis, or other assistance offered to groups working at the community, citywide, or regional level.

We invest in networks and pursue solutions generated by local organizations at various levels—including neighborhoods and clusters of communities—allowing them to tackle challenges around which they have built consensus. We are responding to a range of approaches, which allows us to support new ideas, energy, innovation, leadership, and collective efforts emerging in the city and suburbs. We also support seasoned and effective community development organizations poised to work at greater scale or to take on new challenges.

We make awards to up to five place-based initiatives each year, with support for up to four years. The size of awards is based in part on the annual budget of an initiative, with a maximum of $250,000 per year.

Vital Communities grant guidelines ›

Measurement & Evaluation

The Chicago Commitment has engaged an evaluation and learning partner to measure and evaluate the progress of the strategy, test assumptions underpinning it, and collect information about the context in which the strategy operates. The focus of these activities is on learning. We aim to understand how the strategy contributes to a Chicago that is more equitable and where justice can thrive. Findings and analysis from evaluation activities will be published as they become available.


Additional Areas of Work

Civic Partnerships ›
Influential Leaders ›
Strong Organizations ›

Chicago Commitment strategy ›


Updated May 2019

Representative Grants
Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation
Chicago, Illinois 2017
$ 200,000 in support of the implementation of its community "quality of life" plan.
Brighton Park Neighborhood Council
Chicago, Illinois 2018
$ 1,000,000 in support of the implementation of community-based public safety and economic stability activities.
Austin Coming Together
Chicago, Illinois 2018
$ 1,000,000 to support implementation of a community-based "quality of life" improvement plan.
Thrive Chicago
Chicago, Illinois 2018
$ 500,000 in support of technical assistance for neighborhood collective impact initiatives.
United Way of Metropolitan Chicago
Chicago, Illinois 2018
$ 500,000 in support of the Neighborhood Network initiative.
Metropolitan Planning Council
Chicago, Illinois 2018
$ 510,000 in support of field support work.
View Grant Guidelines
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