Chicago’s Community Development ‘Help Desk’

What We Do

Everything we do is grounded in our mission to expand economic prosperity in collaboration with historically under-resourced communities. We work with nonprofits, entrepreneurs and community developers to advance real estate projects that build wealth, increase services and amenities, and improve the overall quality of life for residents.

We do this through an integrated approach of helping to: secure project funding, build knowledge and networks, and connect project owners with the necessary resources to bring their real estate projects to life. 

Our Services

The Desk offers targeted services based on the overlap between our unique value-add and the gaps that we identified in the community development space 

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Capital Connection

The Desk supports community-driven real estate projects in neighborhood business districts — specifically targeting “small-scale” commercial developments under $10 million that are challenged accessing traditional bank financing — by:

  • Securing and coordinating capital
  • Coordinating technical resources, such as architects and project managers
  • Serving as a development partner to acquire real estate
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Technical Assistance

The Desk builds the capacity of community-based organizations seeking to develop local real estate assets by:

  • Offering customized real estate development coaching
  • Providing advisory services, such as testing project assumptions against current market conditions and identifying potential funding sources based on project needs
  • Supporting project leaders with navigating unexpected project challenges
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Strategic Ecosystem Work

The Desk goes beyond individual projects to uplift community voices throughout Chicago by:   

  • Serving as a thought partner on City of Chicago and philanthropic programs, processes, and initiatives 
  • Providing on-the-ground expertise and relationships in communities and with organizations that support businesses 
  • Identifying innovative capital and community wealth-building strategies 

These services are being realized through the implementation of our various programs: Neighborhood Developers Initiative (NDI), CorridorLive! (coming soon), Community Investment Vehicles (CIV), and BuildUp (coming soon).  

What We Hope to Achieve

Our ultimate vision is a Chicago where all communities have the resources they need to create healthy built environments that support their goals for vibrant spaces, positive economic activity, and community wealth-building. To get there, we look for intermediate outcomes such as:

Increased local development knowledge and skill sets

Increased community-driven property acquisition

Increased development partnerships and collaboration

Increased investment in neighborhood projects

Pilots of capital programs and structures

Lower vacancy rates along neighborhood business districts

Increased local businesses and jobs

Organized local ownership of community assets

Transformed business districts

Learn more about how The Desk’s services ladder up to the goals of our 5-year strategic plan.