Connecting Community and Investment for a Better Chicago
What We Do
Community Desk Chicago works with catalytic real estate projects in historically underserved Black and Latinx communities to help close funding gaps.
Real estate development projects and small businesses in these communities often face funding challenges for many reasons: systemic racism and historic disinvestment, perceived risk, limited assets, constrained development capacity, and other obstacles that prevent projects from meeting “traditional” financial benchmarks to secure funding. A 2019 study by the Urban Institute detailed grim racial and economic disparities in Chicago, with majority-white neighborhoods receiving 4.6 times as much private-market investment than majority-Black neighborhoods, and 2.6 times as much as majority-Latinx neighborhoods.
The Desk translates these challenges into opportunities by identifying creative solutions to close funding gaps for transformative community development. Specifically, the Desk leverages private market expertise and knowledge of financial markets to put community projects in a position to attract access to needed capital.
Refining the Business Plan
We “pressure test” and analyze project assumptions to make recommendations that better position our clients to secure additional capital.
Improving the Pitch
We help develop project pitches and financial models to clearly present financial feasibility and anticipated community impact to make the case for flexible capital.
Closing the Gap
We facilitate engagement for clients with capital providers to explore a variety of capital sources appropriate for the project.
Who Should Apply?
The Desk is particularly interested in working on projects that extend beyond essential community needs and bring innovative and unique products and services to Black and Latinx neighborhoods.
Real estate development projects best suited to receive our services should meet the following requirements:
- Projects must have a real estate component, such as new construction or acquiring and renovating an existing structure.
- Located in a predominantly Black or Latinx community.
- Strong community impact, including the ability to be an economic driver for jobs and wealth-building.
- Experienced project leader with a track record of successful projects/businesses. The Desk works with nonprofits, Black and Latinx developers, and entrepreneurs.
- Traction to move forward, including site control and soft funding commitments.
“Black entrepreneurs and small developers are often excluded from investment opportunities. The Desk advocates for the little guy to bring resources to the table.”
— Deon Lucas, President, E.G. Woode