Chicago Commons will receive $2.2 million from JPMorgan Chase for initiatives aimed at helping low-income women and single mothers of color achieve financial stability and build wealth in Chicago.
The nonprofit — which provides early education, family support services and adult care programs — was one of eight winners of the bank’s Annual Challenge competition that seeks to source innovative and sustainable ideas to advance equity in the U.S.
Edgar Ramirez, CEO of Chicago Commons, said the nonprofit will approach its work from a trauma-informed lens, looking at the social and emotional situations of mothers, combined with their professional and financial goals, to develop individualized strategies that help them advance both socially and economically.
“The ultimate goal is really to help support single moms in the workforce,” Ramirez said. “We will support their upward financial trajectory and their personal and professional trajectories in creating generational wealth to drive upward social and economic upliftment for families.”
Chicago Commons will partner with Poder, Instituto del Progreso Latino and the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago to provide career pathways and employment opportunities for women of color. The project will build on Chicago Commons’ successful Family Hub program, Ramirez said, which provides mothers with a broad range of supportive services and educational opportunities, including financial coaching and health and wellness programming.
JPMorgan Chase began the Annual Challenge, formerly known as the AdvancingCities Challenge, in 2018. This year, eight winners were chosen out of 200 applications nationwide on projects that focused on supporting women of color. A spokesman for JPMorgan Chase said the winning amounts vary depending on the scope of the initiatives, but it will give out a total of $15 million for this year’s competition by the end of April.
In a statement, Joanna Trotter, executive director and senior program officer for global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase, said that Chicago Commons’ “trauma-informed career development and wealth-building programs for women of color can lead to impactful, sustainable and transformative change.”
“Teaming with local organizations and leveraging Chicago Commons’ successful Family Hub program will help address the systemic barriers underrepresented groups face and create new hiring, training and retention practices that lead to greater economic opportunity,” Trotter said.
This will be the third time a Chicago organization has won the competition. In 2019, $3 million was awarded to the West Side United coalition for connecting low-wage health care workers to better-paying hospital jobs. The Resurrection Project won $7.2 million in 2020 to boost long-term homeownership in South and West side neighborhoods.
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