Vital Communities

Investing targeted resources in a small number of organizations focused on place-based initiatives, promising new ventures and regional field support


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 this past support, our next generation approach is targeting resources to a small number of: 

  • Place-based initiatives—coordinated activities primarily taking place in a neighborhood or a group of neighborhoods;
  • Promising new ventures; and
  • Field support organizations—entities that conduct planning, management and technical assistance, policy research and evaluation, data analysis, and/or that offer assistance to groups working at the community or regional level.

This next generation effort invests in networks and pursues 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 four or 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 is in the process of engaging 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 ›

Representative Grants
The Hatchery Chicago Illinois
Chicago, Illinois 2017
$ 300,000 in support of community outreach and educational activities.
Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation
Chicago, Illinois 2017
$ 200,000 in support of the implementation of its community "quality of life" plan.
Southwest Organizing Project
Chicago, Illinois 2017
$ 1,000,000 in support of the Reclaiming Southwest Chicago Campaign to rehabilitate housing and improve school performance and public safety.
View Grant Guidelines View All Grants
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