Benefit Chicago is a collaboration that aims to mobilize up to $100 million for loans and other investments that fuel nonprofits, social enterprises and businesses that help revitalize communities. Launched by the Chicago Community Trust, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Calvert Foundation, it is a way to focus on the social and economic challenges many Chicago-area residents face.
Please note this is not a grant program. Visit MacArthur or The Trust for information on their grants.
What is Benefit Chicago?
At a Glance: Capital for Communities
What organizations are eligible?
Benefit Chicago is a long-term initiative; as such there is no deadline to submit your information and begin the process. Applicants should be aware, however, that the Fund will be making decisions on an ongoing basis and that the amount of available funds will be affected by the ongoing decisions.
Eligible organizations include Community Development Financial institutions (CDFIs) and other financial intermediaries that lend and invest in underserved areas; nonprofit organizations looking to expand their reach; and businesses that have a clear social purpose based on their mission and operations (i.e., social enterprises).
Capital will fuel a range of opportunities, both directly and through intermediaries. For example, it can help attract new businesses; create jobs and expand workforce skills; build up development pipelines for affordable housing; help health centers and child care centers grow their operations; finance green energy/building solutions; and support responsible mortgages for low-income families.
This program is not appropriate for all organizations.
- Financing is only available for work in the six-county Chicago region.
- Organizations must have an income stream that can be drawn on to pay principal and interest.
- Loans and investments are designed to spur long-term organizational growth, innovation and impact. They generally cannot be used for construction financing or as a source of commercial mortgage financing (although intermediaries that apply for capital could use it to offer those kinds of products in the communities they serve).
- Individuals are not eligible for financing; sole proprietors should submit information in the name of their organizations.
What should you do to start the process?
Sign in at the top right of this screen. Once you are logged in, you will be asked for some initial information about your organization and the purpose for which you are seeking investment capital.
Within 10 days, you will hear from a Benefit Chicago "navigator" who will discuss how to move forward with the application process if your organization appears eligible for a loan or investment. Your navigator will also be available to discuss other options for potential financing through nonprofit financial intermediaries that support local revitalization efforts. Please note that submitting information here does not guarantee funding through those organizations. Navigators will help you determine next steps.
How are loans/investment made through Benefit Chicago?
All the capital raised for Benefit Chicago is being combined in a new Fund led by a board of managers appointed by the MacArthur Foundation. The board of managers will oversee the fund's investment activity across the region and MacArthur staff time will be allocated for work on the Fund. The Fund is capped at $100 million.
Over the last 30 years, MacArthur has made more than $500 million in “impact investments,” including $135 million for organizations working in 54 Chicago neighborhoods.
Looking for more information:
- FAQs: Applying for Capital
- Research: Bridging the Gap: Impact Investment Supply and Demand in the Chicago Region
- News: Benefit Chicago Hopes Investors Bet on Community Projects (Chicago Magazine)
Questions? Please email benefitChi_fund@macfound.org or visit www.benefitChi.org.