Strengthening Communities with Equity & Access

Community Desk Chicago was established in 2019 at The Chicago Community Trust through a collaborative partnership with Boston Consulting Group(BCG)’s Center for Illinois’ Future and JPMorgan Chase to examine and address challenges impacting economic development in Chicago’s Black and Latinx communities. The Desk’s work builds on research conducted by BCG and is informed by the extensive work of many others advancing place-based community development. We believe economic investment transforms these neighborhoods, and that it is essential to connect Black and Latinx communities in Chicago with capital and resources to move economic development projects forward.

Following extensive research with experts across relevant stakeholder institutions such as Community Development Financial Institutions (CFDIs), Community Development Corporations, nonprofits, and government, among others, we identified four solutions to create greater economic access:
More capacity building for communities
Providing the resources and capacity building to help communities transform their vision into a pipeline of investable projects.
Multiple sources and networks for equity capital and project viability
Blending funding sources and developing a diverse network of developers and investors to fund projects and tap into undervalued or unknown neighborhood assets.
Better communication to create sustained change
Improving communication and coordination within the community development ecosystem to help align resources for successfully executing community projects.
Intentional Impact Tracking
Developing tools and metrics for intentional tracking of impact data and project success.
“The Desk isn’t only about supporting community projects, it’s also about driving more investment and unlocking the potential of Chicago neighborhoods.” 

— Charlie Corrigan, Executive Director, Central Region Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase & Co

Founding Partners
Thought Leadership. Know-How. Capacity.
The Chicago Community Trust is a community foundation dedicated to strengthening the Chicago region and improving the lives of the people who call it home. For more than 100 years, the Trust has served as a trusted philanthropic partner, connecting the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to nonprofit organizations working to create lasting change. Following the creation of a new strategic plan in 2019, the Trust stands committed to addressing Chicago’s legacy of systemic inequity and closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap, while continuing to respond to the critical needs of our most vulnerable residents. The Trust administers more than $360 million in annual grant making as part of its commitment to equity, opportunity, and prosperity for the Chicago region.

Community Desk Chicago is an initiative of The Chicago Community Trust.

Based out of the firm’s Chicago office, BCG’s Center for Illinois’ Future (CIF) works to improve well-being in Illinois by investing BCG’s teams and resources in collaboration with organizations that share our passion for driving breakthrough change in our community. CIF invests over $10M annually to place pro bono consulting teams with social impact and public sector leaders to unlock transformative insights to help improve education, accelerate innovative and inclusive economic development, and restore neighborhood vitality. We dig deep to understand the underlying causes of complex societal challenges, develop innovative, sustainable solutions, and roll up our sleeves to translate recommendations into impact. Our teams have helped to design an equitable state school funding formula; improve educational outcomes; create innovative programs to reduce youth violence; promote new approaches to inclusive economic development; develop strategies for high impact institutions; and incubate transformative social impact organizations.

BCG and the Center for Illinois’ Future provide thought partnership, research support, and talent to the Desk.

For over 200 years, JPMorgan Chase & Co has provided innovative financial solutions for consumers, small businesses, corporations, governments and institutions around the world. Today, we’re a leading global financial services firm with operations servicing clients in more than 100 countries. Whether we are serving customers, helping small businesses, or putting our skills to work with partners, we strive to identify issues and propose solutions that will propel the future and strengthen both our clients and our communities.

The JPMorgan Chase Foundation provides thought partnership, financial expertise and funding to the Desk.

Connect with the Desk
Ja’Net Defell

Ja’Net brings more than 15 years of experience across real estate, consulting, government, and community engagement to the Desk. In addition to leveraging the Founding Partners, the Desk is supported by talent and subject matter experts from top institutions across finance, real estate, management consulting, and philanthropy. The Desk taps into its network to assemble the expertise needed to support each project and position it to secure the necessary funding to move forward.