Chicago’s Community Development ‘Help Desk’

Community Desk Chicago serves as a trusted ‘help desk’ to local leaders, community developers, funders and investors working on community-driven real estate development projects on Chicago’s South and West sides. Our shared goal is to identify strong community development opportunities and position projects for success. The Desk’s role in this effort is to:

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Advocate to reduce barriers to accessing capital, such as perceived risk, limited assets, credit history, equity requirements, project appraisals, and other obstacles that prevent projects from meeting “traditional” financial benchmarks to secure funding. The Desk also designs and elevates innovative ways for communities to attract investments through capital-pooling strategies and wealth-building opportunities.

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Translate the opportunity to help investors understand and appreciate the impact of investing in community-based real estate projects. The Desk also works to reframe the narrative around Chicago’s underserved communities to showcase the asset-rich potential of these neighborhoods rather than their challenges.

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Connect communities with capital, knowledge, and networks to help them achieve their economic development goals. These connections bring together leaders on Chicago’s South and West sides with funders and investors who share their commitment to equitable economic prosperity. These partnerships result in real estate development projects that are aligned with community goals.


Our Why

Simply put, because we see value in Chicago’s South and West side communities, and because we know racial bias exists that prevent Black and Latinx residents from equitable access to the tools and capital they need to take control of their own destinies. Consider the negative impacts of the following:

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Less investment: Majority-white neighborhoods receive 4.6 times as much private-market investment than majority-Black neighborhoods and 2.6 times as much as majority-Latinx neighborhoods. (Urban Institute 2019)

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Fewer loans: More than one-third of Black and Latinx small business owners seeking loans are denied. For Black owners, the denial rate is two times higher than for whites. (Federal Reserve Banks 2020)

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Higher Interest Rates: Black and Latinx business owners tend to experience higher interest rates when loans are approved. (Federal Reserve Banks 2020)

Our Goals

While individual projects and initiatives may come and go, our north star will always be focused on the following:

  • Unlocking capital for South & West side communities
  • Building local community wealth
  • Developing communities to be asset-rich and in charge of their own destinies
  • Creating an ecosystem where all communities can thrive
  • Creating local jobs and foster a vibrant economy

Our Initiatives