University of Chicago Awards $400,000 in Emergency COVID-19 Bridge Grants to 79 South Side Nonprofits


Grantee Organizations Including The Dovetail Project and Ladies of Virtueall Provide Critical Social Services in the University’s Nine Neighborhood Focus Area

Before the COVID-19 crisis hit, Greater Grand Crossing-based nonprofit The Dovetail Project had enrolled 70 young fathers in its fatherhood training program that was set to begin in late March. After the pandemic took hold, the organization not only had to cancel its signature spring program, but it also was forced to lay off 25 percent of its staff. And the calls from fathers in need across the city didn’t stop – in fact, as the crisis grew and many lost jobs, The Dovetail Project heard from more of them.

The organization launched a COVID relief fund for the fathers and children they serve and is one of 79 COVID-impacted South Side nonprofits that will receive grant funding from the University of Chicago, to help address their immediate needs and continue their vital programming.

“Over the past month, we’ve seen an influx of fathers who are asking for more resources. Since April 6, we have received over 800 texts from fathers asking for assistance,” Smith said. “This support from the University of Chicago is going to help us expand our reach to support more fathers in need and provide them with resources and products they need to support their families right now.”

The financial support for community-based nonprofits — the frontline human service providers in many neighborhoods — is one element of the University’s South Side COVID-19 Community Support Initiative launched on March 30. Given the urgency of the crisis, applications were processed quickly and payments will be issued in the coming days in order to help bridge the resource gap in this critical period as public and private sector COVID-19 assistance becomes available.

Community-based nonprofits have been uniquely impacted by the pandemic as much-needed funding and support has been paused or eliminated and the populations the organizations serve are disproportionately facing hardships such as joblessness, health issues, and food insecurity. Organizations that are based in or serve the University’s nine neighborhood focus area (Douglas, Grand Boulevard , Greater Grand Crossing, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, South Shore, Washington Park, and Woodlawn) and are affiliated with the University’s Community Programs Accelerator were eligible to receive up to $7,500 in grants to cover general operating costs or expenses associated with moving programming online. Awarded funds totaled $400,000. The Community Programs Accelerator, an initiative of the University’s Office of Civic Engagement, provides customized capacity-building support to nonprofits that are based in or directly serve the South Side.

“Community-based organizations are vital to the civic infrastructure of a neighborhood and we recognize the dramatic burden this pandemic has placed not only on the organizations themselves but also on the most vulnerable community members who rely on their services,” Derek Douglas, Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs, said. “It is our hope that these funds will help these groups meet their most pressing needs so they can continue to focus on helping neighbors in our shared community meet theirs.”

The Community Programs Accelerator leverages a full range of the University’s institutional strengths and partnerships to equip both established and emerging community-based nonprofits and leaders with tools and resources to fulfill their unique missions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Accelerator has shifted its work to entirely virtual platforms and is helping its nonprofit partners navigate an unfamiliar landscape through regular online meetings, one-on-one virtual consulting, and by sharing local and federal resources to which they may apply, such as the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund among others.

Launched in 2014, the Community Programs Accelerator has helped develop and strengthen the capacity of more than 150 nonprofit organizations that are based in or serve the nine South Side neighborhoods adjacent to the University. It has additionally provided training to 1,500 representatives of nonprofit organizations.

ladies of virtue

Jamila Trimuel, founder and CEO of Grand Boulevard-based girls’ mentoring and leadership nonprofit Ladies of Virtue, says she and her three part-time staffers have worked with the Accelerator team to draft messages to potential donors and supporters during this time and are taking part in the Accelerator’s biweekly virtual meet-ups to learn more about navigating the crisis as a community organization. “It’s not like we’ve ever been here before, right?” Trimuel said. “So it’s really been good to have that guidance from those who have navigated nonprofits in uncertainty before.”

In recent weeks, Ladies of Virtue has been forced to cancel their annual recognition ceremony, their mentor-mentee match gathering, and other significant planned events and have transferred their core enrichment programs online to continue to serve 165 girls across the South and West sides. A survey the organization sent out to participant families found 42 percent of participant parents have either lost employment or reduced work hours because of the COVID-19 crisis, so Ladies of Virtue has been working to provide those families with essentials like toiletries. The University grant, Trimuel says, will allow her to continue paying staff and serving girls and their families.

“This is going to provide us with the opportunity to pay for our program facilitators, to still get out there and connect with our students. This allows us to continue our services with no disruption,” Trimuel said. “This investment is just so meaningful to us because of the fact that some corporations are pulling back and other funders are postponing their processes. This is a game changer for us to continue on with the robust plans that we have.”

Through other elements of its Community Support Initiative, the University awarded grants and rent relief to its small business tenants earlier this week and will award assistance to non-University-affiliated small businesses on the South Side in the coming days. The initiative also includes help for UChicago Medical Center health care workers, patients, and their families; and, in partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, 225,000 meals that are being distributed to those facing food insecurity on the South Side.

The nonprofits that will receive this grant funding are:

100 Black Men of Chicago

Affinity Community Services

Africa International House USA Inc.


Annie B. Jones Community Services, Inc


Ayodele Drum and Dance NFP

Black Girls Break Bread

Campof Dreams

Center on Halsted

Chicago Abortion Fund

Chicago Blues Museum

Chicago City Theatre Company dba Joel Hall Dancers & Center

Chicago Hyde Park Village

Chicago KICS Foundation

Chicagoland Prison Outreach

Christopher D. Redding Youth Asthma Foundation

City Elementary NFP

Community Film Workshop of Chicago

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater

Dream On Education

ESRD Rockstars Inc

eta Creative Arts Foundation


Forward Momentum Chicago

Free Lunch Academy

Future Ties, NFP

Gary Comer Youth Center d/b/a Comer Education Campus

Global Girls, Inc.

Grace Sister to Sister

Hyde Park Jazz Festival

Hyde Park Neighborhood Club

Hyde Park School of Dance

Imagine Englewood If

Imani Community Development Corporation

Ladies of Virtue

LINK Unlimited Scholars

Lost Boyz Inc.

Love, Unity & Values Institute


Multi Cultural Dance Center Inc

Music Box Foundation

Musical Arts Institute

My Block My Hood My City

NAJWA Dance Corps

Nehemiah Group DBA Chicago Eco House

One On One (FKA Hope Works)

One Solution Foundation

Ordinary People International

Pilot Light

Professional Theatre and Dance Youth Academy


Quad Communities Development Corporation, NFP

Real Men Charities, Inc.

Red Clay Dance Company

Reflections Foundation

Resilience Partners nfp

Ring of Hope

RTW Veteran Center

Sacred Ground

Sisters in Cinema

South Chicago Dance Theatre

South Shore Chamber of Commerce

South side Together Organizing for Power

Southside Center of Hope


Sue Duncan Children's Center

The Chance Center

The Dovetail Project (International Neighborhood Collaborative)

The Life Development Center

The Neighborhood Network Alliance

The People's Music School

The Simple Good

Touch Gift Foundation

United African Organization

West Point School of Music

West Suburban Neighborhood Development Corporation

Woodlawn Restorative-Justice Hub






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