Community Desk Chicago has been incubating for 5 years – a time when The Chicago Community Trust, JPMorgan Chase, and Boston Consulting Group supported our growth from a mere concept to a fully independent not-for-profit. We leave the nest secure with funding, projects, networks, and strategies to succeed. 

What does that success look like? It’s documented in our 2023-2027 Strategic Plan, which is centered on serving as an authentic partner to move neighborhoods toward self-reliance and self-actualization of community-driven outcomes.  

Please join us in reflecting on our 5-year anniversary, new independent status, and new strategic plan – milestones that are propelling our work to the next level. Welcome to “The Desk 2.0.” 

The Last 5 Years: Our Accomplishments

While growing our funding from $300,000 to more than $1.175 million, we have: 

  • Supported more than 60 projects with technical assistance, project navigation, and capital access; 
  • Helped to secure more than $6.5 million in capital for small-scale, community-centered, entrepreneur-led real estate projects; 
  • Supported a citywide movement toward community and individual wealth-building – launching a Community Investment Vehicle (CIV) playbook and assessment tool to advance local ownership of neighborhood assets; and 
  • Raised close to $3 million to bring a real estate development capacity-building program to three Chicago neighborhoods. 

Thank You to Our Founding Partners

These accomplishments would not be possible without the support of three key partners: 

  • The Chicago Community Trust allowed us to incubate with them. They provided innumerable supports, from funding and office space to assistance managing our financial, legal, and operational needs to strategic advice and counsel. We are proud to join the ranks of other Chicago institutions that incubated at The Trust and have gone on to serve the city for decades. 
  • JPMorgan Chase provided foundational grant support that made it possible for us to begin offering services to Chicago communities in the form of technical assistance and project funding. This helped establish The Desk as a critical ‘help desk’ connecting communities with capital.  
  • Boston Consulting Group’s research and guidance was a critical part of our origin story, providing the data and evidence for our value add in communities. We also leveraged their team for direct project support in communities.  

Going forward, The Desk’s work will continue to build on the research, funding, and counsel of these partners – as well as by the extensive work of others advancing place-based community development. 

The Next 5 Years: Our Strategic Plan

In our next chapter, we plan to continue to go deep in communities, serving as an authentic partner to move neighborhoods toward self-reliance and self-actualization of community-driven outcomes. Working with local leaders, our broad goal is to move beyond community plan creation into community plan implementation – activating vacant properties, providing wealth-building opportunities, and advancing the growth of local small businesses through brick-and-mortar spaces.  

More specifically, our five-year strategic plan includes these goals: 

  • Goal #1: Revitalize Neighborhood Corridors: We will help once disinvested business corridors thrive by providing access to coordinated resources – assets, capacity, and capital. Additionally, we will document the framework and implementation strategy that fosters healthy corridors on the south and west sides of Chicago. These corridors should elevate economies while avoiding gentrification, as well as benefit local residents through increased community ownership, stabilized or increasing property values, and improved amenities.
  • Goal #2: Unlock Capital: Structure more flexible programs and cultivate partnerships that meet the unique needs of neighborhood corridors through a range of pathways for equitable funding and financing for small-scale commercial real estate projects and community shared ownership models.
  • Goal #3: Build Community Self-Reliance: Strengthen community real estate development skill sets and knowledge in underserved neighborhoods in ways that uplift community voices, drive positive economic outcomes desired by the residents, increase community-owned assets, and improve the financial position of the local agencies leading this work.
  • Goal #4: Strengthen Ecosystems: Increase partnerships and collaborations across the public and private sectors to support creation and implementation of community-driven development plans, organized community ownership efforts, and community-centered investment tools.  

We hope to continue to leverage our relationships with partners and funders to bring innovative and community-centered resources to revitalize neighborhoods – their properties, their projects, and their opportunities.

If you would like to see our detailed 5-year strategic plan, please contact us at