As an anchor institution on the South Side of Chicago, the University of Chicago is in a unique position to help local nonprofit organizations build their capacity for present and future impact. Through the Community Program Accelerator, the University has offered more than 50,000 hours of consulting, training, and skill-sharing to nonprofits based on or serving the South Side.
Launched in 2014, the Community Programs Accelerator develops and strengthens nonprofits through connections to University resources and partnerships with industry experts. The program provides four levels of assistance tailored to an organization's needs, such as office space, coaching, strategic planning, and board development.
To ensure the most useful level of support, the Accelerator will assess organizational needs and work in partnership with nonprofits to guide them through varying levels of engagement. The core program provides funding along with intense, focused, and customized support over a period of up to three years. Organizations at the associates level receive general capacity building support from accelerator staff and interns to help fulfill a core function through three to five relevant projects over the course of a year. Special Projects organizations receive discrete technical assistance through staff support and student engagement to address a specific issue or project over the course of 10 to 20 weeks. The Accelerator’s workshop series, taught by industry experts and open to any nonprofit, covers topics ranging from communications and marketing to fundraising and financial compliance.
The Accelerator has directly funded $250,000 to participating organizations and helped them bring in four times that from outside donors.