Planning & Pre-Development Grants

 As a part of the Chicago Recovery Plan, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Equity and Racial Justice (OERJ), has designed the Community Wealth Building (CWB) Planning & Pre-Development Grants. These grants represent phase two of a three-phase $15M CWB pilot program to promote models of local, democratic, and shared ownership and control of community assets. This program will grant up to $150,000 to approximately 20 eligible organizations to execute planning and pre-development activities for a community wealth building project during a twelve-month period (with the opportunity for extension). 


Many CWB projects are stuck in the pipeline and lack the resources to move to the next stage of the work. While many projects have strong missions and visions, they lack a clear project scope, project manager, governance bylaws, design and engineering documents, defined cost estimates, financial proforma, and compatible zoning or project sites (collectively, “planning and pre-development costs”). This issue is especially acute for small businesses and nonprofits located in South and West side communities that have systemic barriers to accessing capital and that were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Chicago is prioritizing four CWB models: worker cooperatives, limited-equity housing cooperatives, community land trusts, and community investment vehicles in commercial real estate. This grant will support:

  • Commercial real estate projects (e.g. worker cooperatives with brick-and-mortar, community investment vehicles); 
  • Residential real estate projects (e.g. limited-equity housing cooperatives, community land trusts, etc.); and
  • Non-real estate projects (e.g. worker cooperatives without brick-and-mortar needs)

The primary goal of this program is to build the pipeline of shovel-ready, investment-ready community wealth building projects that meet community priorities. In providing these funds, the City will accelerate the pace of development for CWB projects, allowing projects to move through the City’s internal design, zoning, and underwriting processes much quicker and ready them for future public, private and philanthropic capital.

This historic program is part of the Chicago Recovery Plan, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot'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.


Eligible Expenses

  • Personnel (e.g. Project Manager, Community Organizer, Owner’s Rep, Member-Owner stipends)
  • Professional and Technical Services (e.g. accountant, attorney, financial advisor, consultant, facilitator, etc.)
  • Architecture, engineering, and design Fees
  • Environmental expenses (e.g., Phases I/II, Hazardous Materials Survey, Remediation Plans)
  • Community engagement and outreach (e.g. community stipends, advisory council stipends, etc.)
  • Market & feasibility studies
  • Earnest money on property
  • Closing costs
  • Licensing fees (e.g. business license, permits, etc.)
  • Materials and supplies
  • Equipment (less than $5,000)
  • Travel
  • Administrative fees (e.g. fiscal sponsor fees)


Eligible Geography 

Citywide, but focusing on low income neighborhoods and communities with Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs). QCTs are present in the following community areas:  Albany Park, Archer Heights, Armour Square, Auburn Gresham, Austin, Avalon Park, Avondale, Belmont Cragin, Bridgeport, Brighton Park, Burnside, Calumet Heights, Chatham, Chicago Lawn, Clearing, Douglas, East Garfield Park, East Side, Edgewater, Englewood, Fuller Park, Gage Park, Gage Park, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Hermosa, Humboldt Park, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Lincoln Square, Logan Square, Lower West Side, McKinley Park, Morgan Park, Near North Side, Near West Side, New City, North Lawndale, Oakland, Pullman, Riverdale, Rogers Park, Roseland, South Chicago, South Deering, South Lawndale, South Shore, Uptown, Washington Heights, Washington Park, West Englewood, West Garfield Park, West Lawn, West Pullman, West Ridge, West Town, Woodlawn  


Know before you apply:

  • Applications will be accepted through the Submittable platform. All applicants will be asked to create a Submittable login and can complete the form in stages.
  • Grants will awarded up to $150,000 (with a minimum of $50,000)