Together We Heal Creative Place Program

The Together We Heal Creative Place Program (CPP) recognizes the importance of the arts in promoting health, healing, and safety for communities. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the systemic racism in Chicago’s economic and public health system that created the underlying conditions of low-income communities experiencing a disproportionate rate of infections and mortality.

Neighborhood cultural programs including public art, activations in public spaces, and community focused arts engagement activities are proven to have a positive impact on the physical and mental health of individuals. CPP positions artists, community leaders, and organizations to identify solutions to the challenges caused by racial, health, and economic inequities in their communities. CPP believes that creative place-based solutions can play a significant role in addressing these issues. Co-designed by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the Office of Equity & Racial Justice (OERJ), applications for the Together We Heal Creative Place program (CPP) are currently being accepted. Artists and community organizations will create projects that activate public spaces; promote health and safety; encourage movement, dialogue, and connection; beautify communities; and celebrate local culture. This program addresses the public health and negative economic harms created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

CPP is a central component of the City's Together We Heal Initiative which aims to build racial healing and transformation in Chicago. The initiative began in fall 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and following the civil unrest and racial reckoning of the summer. In January 2022, Together We Heal began the Year of Healing 2022 which aims to advance three core goals: (1) Reflect on our past - Seeking to educate and engage about past and present racial injustices and structures of racial inequality; (2) Reclaim our present - Seeking to bring community members together to identify lessons learned of the past that will inform new values and norms that shift power; and (3) Reimagine our future - Seeking to vision a more inclusive future state and design policies and practices that produce and sustain more equitable outcomes. More information on Together We Heal and Year of Healing 2022 can be found at:

This program is part of the Chicago Recovery Plan, the City’s plan to amplify once-in-a-generation federal funding to create an equity-based investment strategy to catalyze a sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more visit

Project Components

As part of the pathway toward an equitable and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Together We Heal Creative Place Program will invest in projects that strengthen neighborhood environments. Projects should activate public spaces; promote health and safety; and encourage movement, recreation, dialogue, and connection. The program encourages existing and new projects that highlight a community’s history, culture and assets, leveraging the creative potential present in communities, and that honors the work already taking place.

Artistic Discipline: Projects can be focused on any artistic discipline including architecture, culinary arts, curatorial arts, dance, design, film, literary arts, media arts, music, performance art, photography, public art, social or civic practice, theater, or visual arts.

Required Project Components:
To be considered for funding, projects must be place-based and must meet the following criteria:

1.  All project work and programming must be free to the public.

2.  All projects must have a robust community engagement plan or strategy that outlines how residents, businesses and other local stakeholders will contribute to the vision and development of the project.

3.  Projects should also result in a tangible physical improvement to a publicly accessible space like a plaza, park, vacant lot, or other underutilized community space.

4.  For cultural programs that will happen in multiple neighborhoods, a tangible physical improvement is not a required component.

Where appropriate, applicants should see the supplemental City Agency Partner Guide for available opportunities and current procedures as they shape proposals and seek letters of support.

Other Considerations:
Applicants are encouraged (but not required) to consider other elements in their program design:

• Preservation of local cultural assets and sites of memory that protect the histories, relationships, and impacts of local heritage and culture keeping practices

• Cross Sector Initiatives including partnerships with organizations and agencies focused on housing, environment, immigration, public safety, health, youth development, transit, etc. that activate the arts alongside other quality of life issues and sectors to propose creative solutions benefitting communities.


Grant Amounts

The total budget for the CPP program is $5,000,000. We anticipate making up to 50 grants through this program. Proposals and supporting documents should illustrate the collaborative team’s capacity to accomplish the proposed project and are not dependent on the current operating budget of the applicant(s). However, applicants will need to adhere to certain City, State, and Federal requirements as a condition of accepting a grant.

Grant requests can range from $25,000 - $500,000 across two funding tiers:

• Activation Grants: $25,000 and $45,000 grants for neighborhood-focused projects such as walking or bike tours or performances and other activations that may result in temporary or permanent changes to the built environment or physical character of a place

• Transformation Grants: $100,000, $250,000 and $500,000 grants represent substantial community projects that are ready for full implementation with the necessary partners, community support, and funding to complete and result in a transformative physical improvement

Grant Distribution: The total number of grants to be awarded at each level are as follows:

Activation Grants: 20 – 30

Transformation Grants: up to 20

Learning Cohort: Grantees will have the opportunity to participate in a range of learning cohort support activities with access to technical assistance including tactical workshops, peer exchange, and strategic guidance to support their specific project ideas.


Priority Neighborhoods

Applications will be accepted from all parts of the city qualifying as disproportionately impacted (including low-income communities, qualified census tracts, and communities designated by the City of Chicago as high priority for health and safety). Priority will include communities and commercial corridors identified through the City of Chicago’s INVEST South/West initiative; community areas identified through the City of Chicago’s Our City, Our Safety initiative; and community areas that have not received direct funding through DCASE’s other Cultural Grants Program over the past two years.

List of Priority Communities
Albany Park, Archer Heights, Armour Square, Auburn Gresham, Austin, Avalon Park, Bronzeville, Burnside, Chatham, Chicago Lawn, Douglas, East Garfield Park, Englewood, Fuller Park, Gage Park, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Hegewisch, Humboldt Park, Montclare, Morgan Park, New City, North Lawndale, Oakland, Pullman, Riverdale, Roseland, South Chicago, South Deering, South Lawndale, South Shore, Washington Park, West Garfield Park, West Englewood, West Pullman, Woodlawn

The City will work with selected applicants to ensure that the project meets all American Rescue Plan requirements.

High need communities identified for trauma-informed centers of care expansion (CDPH initiative)
Armour Square, Auburn Gresham, Austin, Avondale, Belmont Cragin, Brighton Park, Chatham, Chicago Lawn, East Garfield Park, East Side, Englewood, Fuller Park, Gage Park, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Hermosa, Humboldt Park, Lower West Side, New City, North Lawndale, Riverdale, Rogers Park, Roseland, South Chicago, South Deering, South Lawndale, South Shore, Washington Heights, Washington Park, West Englewood, West Garfield Park, West Lawn, West Pullman, West Ridge, Woodlawn


Eligibility Criteria

Only one application submission per collaborative pair (i.e., artist and community collaborator) will be accepted. To be eligible to apply, partner applicants must meet the following criteria:

Must reside in the city of Chicago with a valid street address.

Must reside in or show evidence of significant connection to the neighborhood/community area where the project will take place. It is preferred, but not required, that at least one member of the collaborative pair be a current resident of the neighborhood where the proposed project will take place.

Must be at least 18 years of age.

One of the partner applicants must be a nonprofit or the partner applicants must select a nonprofit fiscal sponsor. Fiscal sponsors must submit a copy of the signed agreement with the grantee as part of the contract paperwork.

Projects must take place in a qualified location. The City will work with applicants to identify alternative locations if necessary due to American Rescue Plan requirements.

The following entities may apply:

Individual artists, cultural producers, or curators.

Individuals/collectives applying with a nonprofit fiscal sponsor with 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) status.

Any nonprofit organization, Special Service Area (SSAs) or Chamber of Commerce with 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) status, including religious institutions that provide significant services to the community that are non-religious in nature.

National nonprofit organizations with a Chicago branch.

The following entities cannot be listed as one of the lead applicants on a proposal. However, collaborations with these entities are welcome.

For-profit organizations.

Municipal departments and their affiliate 501c3s, including libraries, parks, transit, and family services agencies

Organizations and individuals receiving other forms of DCASE support remain eligible to apply; however, priority will be given to those not receiving other DCASE support.

Funds can be used to support:

Program, community engagement, and other administrative expenses including venue rental, artist and participate fees, materials, supplies and other insurances, permits and fees required to implement the project.

Costs associated with physical improvements including remediation and site cleanup of publicly owned facilities or spaces and/or publicly visible improvements to commercial properties or vacant lots.

Funds CANNOT be used to support:

The purchase of land and or buildings

The purchase of permanent, depreciable equipment valued at more than $5,000

Fundraising events or campaigning for a candidate or a ballot issue

Religious education, ceremonies, or events

Vehicle rental of any kind

Artists or organizations with outstanding, existing debt with the City of Chicago. Debt does not need to be resolved prior to submitting an idea but will need to be in order to receive a payment from the city. Please set up payment plans or pay off any existing debt (parking tickets, utility bills, etc.) with the Department of Finance:


Review Process and Criteria

All proposals will be reviewed by an external grant review panel including residents of priority neighborhoods and subject matter experts. Consideration is given to creating review panels reflective of the city, including artistic expertise, race, gender, geographic knowledge of the city, and cultural understanding.

Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

Strength of proposed project: The proposed project possesses artistic merit and vision alongside quality, meaningful opportunities to engage Chicago residents in arts and culture activities over the duration of the grant (up to two years).

Connection to Year of Healing: Project clearly relates to the Year of Healing core goals. Projects will create a platform for dialogue, address a community need or challenge, build social cohesion, and/or provide opportunities for engagement of historically marginalized groups.

Clarity & feasibility: The proposed project has a clear timeline, goals, and objectives for the duration of the project in line with the requested budget and is inclusive of additional personnel, materials/supplies, or equipment needed. We value applicants who can show both structure and flexibility in their project planning and implementation.

Benefit to communities: The project’s potential to benefit Chicago residents and strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical, and/or social outcomes that respond to neighborhood priorities. We value projects that provide deep, enriching experiences for participants.

Community experience: The applicant demonstrates deep relationship building and tending skills with artists and partners in communities/neighborhoods identified in the proposal. Applicants and their partners demonstrate experience working in, on behalf of, and leading communities, including outreach and engagement, strong listening skills and attention to detail.

Additionally, the activities must meet the requirements of the American Rescue Plan's State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program. The City may request revisions in the proposed project to ensure compliance.


Timeline ***All dates are subject to change 



 Application Portal Opens   June 15, 2022
 Online Info Session  June 22, 2022, 5pm  Register Here
 Online Info Session  July 7, 2022, 12pm  Register Here
 Application Deadline  July 29, 2022, 5:00pm CDT   
 Notifications  September 20, 2022
 Year of Healing 2022 Summit  September 22, 2022
 Payments Disbursed  October 2022 – Grant payments will be made in two annual installments
 Grant Period  October 2022 – October 2024. This is the time during which grant funds must be spent.