eTOD Pilot Program

We are pleased to announce our first cohort of City of Chicago Equitable Transit-Oriented Development (ETOD) Pilots. The application process was competitive, and we believe that the final eleven pilots exemplify ETOD in Chicago.

We invited applicants in any stage of development to propose a project that would enable all people regardless of income, ethnicity, age, gender, immigration status or ability to experience the benefits of dense, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented development near transit hubs. Projects may include housing, commercial space, community space, placemaking projects, public art interventions, or other initiatives to promote walkable, accessible, and affordable communities near transit.

Learn About the Selected Pilots

The process will include a 2-stage application process:

  • Call for Proposals: Anyone is invited to submit an initial proposal. We will invite a group of proposed projects to provide additional information in a second round.
  • Full Applications: We will evaluate full applications and will select between five and ten projects to take part in the eTOD Pilot/Demonstration.

In partnership with the ETOD Working Group and through an open application process, the City will identify up to 10 pilot projects to begin testing and implementing aspects of the Policy Plan. There are three types of projects that could fall into this process:

  1. Projects and teams that need support with overall and/or early planning stages
  2. Projects and teams that need assistance navigating bureaucratic processes at the City and completing a community engagement process
  3. Projects and teams that are seeking funding

If selected as a pilot project, applicants will receive technical assistance and connections to potential resources from the City. If selected, applicants will also receive equity micro-grants (between $7,500 and $15,000) through Elevated Chicago and Enterprise Community Partners. Equity grants can be used on community engagement processes or to fund a specific feature that will advance equity in the project; micro-grants are not intended for construction or hard costs associated with the project. Larger grants of up to $20,000 are only available for ETOD projects that include a community ownership model.

Additional resources include a network of support from City departments, Elevated Chicago, and other members of the City’s ETOD Working Group. Sponsor organizations for community ownership ETOD projects will be expected to join a cohort managed by Enterprise Community Partners to receive additional technical assistance.

Selection Criteria

Each application will be evaluated on four overarching criteria: feasibility, equity, alignment, and transit. Each criteria are described in detail below.

Overall question: Is the proposed project set up to be successfully implemented?

Overall question: Does the project advance racial, climate, and/or health equity?

Key criteria:

  1. Does the organization center Black, Brown, Indigenous and other people of color in leadership, decision-making and strategy?
  2. Was the project shaped through intentional community engagement?
  3. Does the project maximize benefits to communities disproportionately facing racial, climate or health inequalities/disparities?
  4. Does the project minimize burdens to communities disproportionately facing racial, climate or health inequalities/disparities?
  5. Does the project explicitly and intentionally advance racial, climate, and health equity?
  6. Does the project promote universal accessibility for people with disabilities?
  7. Does the project advance equity in procurement and supplier diversity by ensuring that small and minority owned firms and Black, Brown, Indigenous and other people of color benefit from development?
  8. Does the project proposed fulfill needs or desires identified by community residents?


Racial equity: The City of Chicago defines equity as both an outcome and a process. As an outcome equity results in fair and just access to opportunity and resources that provide everyone the ability to thrive. Acknowledging the present and historical inequality that persist in our society, equity is a future state we strive to create where identity and social status no longer predestine life outcomes. As a process, equity requires a new way of doing business: one that

  1. prioritizes access and opportunities for groups who have the greatest need;
  2. methodically evaluates benefits and burdens produced by seemingly neutral systems and practices; and
  3. engages those most impacted by the problems we seek to address as experts in their own experiences, strategists in co-creating solutions, and evaluators of success. (from the Office of Equity and Racial Justice’s draft Equity Statement of Principles)

Climate equity: a product and process that allows all people the opportunity to attain protection from environmental hazards as well as access to environmental benefits for all, regardless of race, income, ethnicity, gender, ability or age. (drafted using ETOD Policy Plan language and language from UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation)

Health equity: a product and process that allows all people the opportunity to attain their highest level of health and differences in health outcomes between groups of people are eliminated. As a process: health equity is an on-going process of assurance and protection of the conditions of that lead to optimal health for all people, which requires at least three things:

  1. valuing all individuals and populations equally;
  2. recognizing and rectifying historical injustices and
  3. providing fair distribution of resources according to need.  (from ETOD Policy Plan)

Overall question: Will the proposed project align with the ETOD Policy Plan and other city priorities?

  1. Does the project clearly align with multiple priorities and goals of the ETOD Policy Plan?
  2. Does the project clearly align with other City of Chicago priorities and initiatives?
  3. Does the project intentionally address prevention of displacement (both by gentrification and by disinvestment

 Representative City of Chicago priorities and initiatives

  • Solutions to End Poverty (STEP) Initiative
  • C40 Reinventing Cities Competition
  • CDOT Strategic Planning
  • Community Wealth Building Initiative
  • COVID-19 Recovery Task Force (RTF) Advisory Report
  • CTA/CDOT Bus Priority Zone Program
  • Healthy Chicago 2025
  • Chicago Inclusionary Housing Task Force Report
  • Racial Equity Impact Assessment (REIA) on a Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP)
  • INVEST South/West
  • Chicago’s Blueprint for Fair Housing
  • We Will Chicago (Citywide Planning Initiative)

Overall question: Does the proposed project have a transit orientation?

  1. Is the project within the vicinity (1/2 mile radius) of existing or planned transit hubs (CTA train, select CTA bus corridors, Pace Pulse, Metra stations, or bicycle paths)?
  2. Is the project designed to promote transit ridership?
  3. Is the project designed to promote active transportation, including walking and bicycling?
  4. Is the project designed to promote shared use?

Shared use mobility options refers to forms of infrastructure that support multiple transportation and recreation options, such as walking, bicycling, use of wheelchairs, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Potential projects will be evaluated by a Selection Committee consisting of members of the ETOD Working Group. Members represent numerous City departments, community-based organizations, the private sector, philanthropies, and regional non-profit and governmental partners.


Members of the Selection Committee include representatives from:

  • Active Transportation Alliance
  • Center for Neighborhood Technology
  • Chicago Transit Authority
  • Chinese Mutual Aid Association
  • Department of Housing
  • Department of Planning and Development
  • Department of Public Health
  • Department of Transportation
  • Elevated Chicago
  • Enterprise Community Partners
  • Far South Side CDC
  • Garfield Park Community Council
  • Mayor's Office of People for Disabilities
  • Metropolitan Agency for Planning
  • Metropolitan Planning Council
  • Office of the Mayor
  • The Community Builders, Inc.
  • Urban Land Institute Chicago

The process includes a 2-stage call for proposals:

  1. Call for Proposals: Anyone is invited to submit a proposal, which will be scored by the ETOD Pilot Selection Committee. The Committee will then invite a group of proposed projects to submit full application for funding.
  2. Full Applications: The ETOD Selection Committee will evaluate full applications and will select between five and ten projects to take part in the ETOD Pilot.

The ETOD Pilot Selection Committee will evaluate all proposals and applications according to the three criteria outlined above: Equity, Alignment, and Transit. The Selection Committee will score proposals and applications and the highest scoring applications will be selected as the pilot projects.

The City will provide technical assistance to selected projects, which will vary by project need. In addition, an initial grant pool of $135,000 will be available for the pilot projects through partnership with Elevated Chicago. Additional resources include a network of support from other members of the ETOD Working Group.

Resources available from the City of Chicago include:

  • Support in navigating and accessing funding streams managed by City agencies, such as an intake meeting with DOH underwriting team
  • Support in navigating process to access City-owned vacant lots 
  • Support in accessing City department programs like CDOT’s Make Way for People Program
  • Support in applying a Health and Racial Equity Impact Assessment
  • Support in reviewing or partnering on grant applications
  • Other technical assistance


Resources available from Elevated Chicago include:

  • Incorporation in the Elevated Chicago pipeline
  • Access to resources managed by Elevated Chicago’s working groups: capital grants and loans from SPARCC, technical assistance from Enterprise Community Partners and IFF, advocacy and support in community and City council meetings
  • Communications and data support including media and social media
  • Support for and/or priority in accessing resources managed by Elevated Chicago members, e.g. CCT’s Predevelopment Fund, Section 4 grants, and more
  • Support in fundraising for additional public and philanthropic funding

Proposals are due by 11:59pm on July 21, 2021. Fill out the online application here. A PDF of the Call for Proposals is also available here. Applicants may fill out the online form or submit a completed PDF to with the subject line “ETOD Pilot Proposal.”

The goals of the ETOD pilot program include promoting policy outcomes and test recommendations included in the ETOD Policy Plan, meaningfully advancing projects that demonstrate the values of ETOD (ranging from early-stage projects to those ready for financing), prioritizing community engagement and encouraging a variety of community-driven submissions, and developing a pipeline of future ETOD projects.

No; an intent to apply is not required. However, if you would like assistance applying, you can email and notify the committee of any questions you may have.

Any application questions can be sent to the email. If need be, they will then be directed to the appropriate point of contact.

We encourage organizations to only submit proposals for the project they believe is the strongest example of ETOD principals. While organizations are allowed to submit multiple proposals, it is unlikely more than one project from each organization will be selected.

Yes; projects in any Chicago neighborhood are eligible, so long as they meet the location requirements of being within ½ mile of an existing or planned transit stop.

No; we are committed to being flexible with the application and are looking for projects that are all in different places in the development process – from early stage to completion. So long as your project enhances ETOD and satisfies our criteria, you can apply during any development stage.


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