Pritzker Traubert Foundation announces the Chicago Prize, a $10 million grant competition to support community investment on Chicago’s South and West Side

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Seeking applications from community-led collaborative teams

The Pritzker Traubert Foundation (PTF) has announced the Chicago Prize, its new grant competition to invest in the economic future of residents on Chicago’s South and/or West Side.

The Chicago Prize will award a single, $10 million grant to a highly collaborative initiative that uses physical development to spur economic activity, strengthen civic infrastructure, and improve the safety, well-being, and economic mobility of residents. The grant emphasizes the relationship between a community’s physical environment and its civic infrastructure—the environment that shapes and sustains a community.

Civic infrastructure refers to the policies, programs, practices and processes that connect physical revitalization with neighborhoods’ customs, culture, networks and relationships. Research shows that physical development, whether affordable housing, mixed-use development or community centers, can be more of a cornerstone for addressing community needs and creating systemic change when civic infrastructure is also considered.

“What makes Chicago communities so special often boils down to two things – the people who live there and places there that make a neighborhood unique,” said Bryan Traubert, PTF co-founder and chairman. “Places and people are tremendous assets in every community, but in some of our South and West Side areas, we haven’t made enough investments in either to offset the inequities that we all know exist. Working with the Park District, I spent time in almost every Chicago neighborhood and saw the great potential that exists there. I’m looking forward to learning even more about that potential through the Chicago Prize.” Traubert was president of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners from 2010 to 2015.

The inaugural Chicago Prize will be awarded in spring 2020. It will support a community-led, investment-ready initiative that is managed by a team with deep community partnerships, sophisticated approaches to community development and resident engagement, and the expertise to leverage the grant, implement the initiative, and create positive impact for residents and within the community-at-large.

Organizations whose experience aligns with these guidelines are encouraged to visit ChicagoPrize.org to complete an assessment; this represents the first step toward registering to submit a proposal for the award. All organizations that plan to collaborate and form a Chicago Prize application team must register on the website by Tuesday, July 16, 2019 at 5 p.m. Central Time.

The Pritzker Traubert Foundation recognizes that addressing systemic poverty, economic exclusion, and inequity is complex and challenging, according to Cindy Moelis, PTF’s president.

“We are excited and ready to partner with community leaders and put our resources—passion, experience, and capital—to work toward helping more individuals and communities in Chicago thrive,” Moelis said. “We are seeking community plans that feature bold ideas about how changing a place can change residents’ lives. When teams apply, they will define their places, tell us how they plan to improve those places, and tell us what the impact will be on the community at-large.”

“We are very proud to call Chicago our home and are deeply committed to do all we can to help strengthen the economic future of more people across our great city,” said Penny Pritzker, PTF co-founder and director. “We believe good ideas need patient capital in order to be successful. Yet often, the funding that comes from the public and nonprofit sectors is not enough to fuel the innovative, bold ideas that we know are out there. The mission of the Chicago Prize is to deliver the flexible private capital needed to achieve the vision these communities have for themselves so they can help more families thrive.”

Teams that register by the July 16 deadline will have until August 13, 2019 at 5 p.m. Central Time to submit a full proposal. All proposals submitted to the Chicago Prize will be read by members of an evaluation panel and scored against four criteria: community-led collaboration, impact, feasibility, and leverage. Members of the evaluation panel are introduced on the website and include potential investors as well as finance, community development and social service professionals from both Chicago-based and national organizations (a complete list of the evaluation panel can be found at ChicagoPrize.org).

By late October, four finalists will be announced, and each will receive a $100,000 planning grant to help build out their plans. The four finalists will be asked to present their plans at a spring 2020 public event.

The Chicago Prize was developed by the Pritzker Traubert Foundation with counsel from Lever for Change, a new affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which will be managing the second round of MacArthur’s 100&Change, a global competition to solve a critical problem of our time. Other Chicago Prize advisors include BCG’s Center for Illinois’ Future and the Urban Institute.

About the Pritzker Traubert Foundation

Established in 2000 by Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert, the Pritzker Traubert Foundation has invested in people and programs that enrich the lives of Chicagoans and work to close the city’s opportunity gap. By working with innovative partners, the Foundation is focused on improving economic prosperity for low-income families in Chicago. Its resources are focused on three programmatic areas: investing in the future of Chicago’s communities; preparing for the future of work; and building the capacity of leaders and organizations focused on moving people from poverty.

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