Chicago’s Community Development ‘Help Desk’

Our Strategic Pillars

Based on the gaps and unique value-add we identified in the marketplace, The Desk has oriented itself around three strategic pillars:

  1. Leverage and Coordinate Place-Based Capital
  2. Support Small-Scale Infill Commercial Real Estate Development
  3. Advocate for Systems Change

These are our guiding principles to ensure we stay grounded in efforts that support our mission, leverage our strengths, and fill gaps in the market. Everything we do ladders up to these strategic approaches in service of building community-driven outcomes.

Capital Connection

  • Capital aggregation to support community-driven projects
  • Trusted capital and property intermediary for community projects and investment strategies


Customized Technical Assistance & Coaching

  • Real estate development coaching
  • Advisory services
  • Project navigation

Strategic Ecosystem Work to Uplift Community Voices

  • Thought partner on City of Chicago and philanthropic programs, processes, and initiatives
  • On-the-ground expertise and relationships in communities and with business support organizations
  • Thought leader on innovative capital and community wealth-building strategies

Our Major Goals for 2023-2027

With our strategic pillars and services as a strong foundation, we launched our first five-year strategic plan with these goals:

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Revitalize Neighborhood Corridors

Support local leaders to transform disinvested corridors, which can thrive with access to coordinated resources – assets, capacity, and capital. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

If you would like to obtain a copy of the full 2023-2027 Strategic Plan, please contact Community Desk Chicago President & CEO Ja’Net Defell at