UChicago Local

When local residents and businesses thrive, everyone benefits.

UChicago Local is an economic inclusion initiative, led by the Office of Civic Engagement, that leverages the University’s role as the largest private employer and purchaser of goods and services on the South Side to create economic opportunities for local businesses and residents.

Through its Buy Local, Hire Local, Live Local, and Partner Local strategies, the initiative supports growth for small businesses, career pathways for residents, and community-focused economic development in the University’s nine neighborhood focus area on the South Side.

Learn more about the University's work to promote economic opportunity and entrepreneurship.

Buy Local

Through UChicago Local, the University leverages its buying power to create new opportunities for small, diverse businesses by building the capacity of local entrepreneurs to secure contracts with the University and other large institutions. Annually, the University spends more than $20M on goods and services purchased from more than 300 local vendors. Campus partners are encouraged through the initiative to purchase directly from local suppliers and add ambitious local purchasing goals to key vendor contracts such as food service, security, and others. University procurement opportunities, in alignment with UChicago Local goals, are shared and promoted publicly.

UChicago faculty and staff also help local communities thrive by purchasing from an array of unique, diverse businesses across the South Side:

Explore the UChicago Local Resource Directory 

Supporting Local Business

As part of the University’s UChicago Local commitment, the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation provides intensive support for local entrepreneurs through the Small Business Growth Program, and more broad support for South Side small business owners in the form of free workshops and mentoring from industry experts. The Polsky Center supports more than 500 South Side small businesses annually.

In an effort to ensure campus development projects provide opportunities to diverse businesses and local residents, partners across the University, including UChicago Medicine and Facilities Services, work collaboratively to advance and share progress against the University’s construction diversity goals through the Inclusive Construction Initiative. Over the past 10 years, the University has invested more than $720M in minority- and women-owned firms through campus development projects.

For Local Businesses

To find out how you can work with the University, visit our upcoming bid opportunities page. For small business support opportunities, visit the Polsky Center’s page.

Hire Local

The University, through the UChicago Local initiative, works to provide South Side residents a clear path to employment opportunities at the University, UChicago Medicine, and their vendor networks, as well as opportunities to grow and advance. More than 30 percent of all University employees — 4,700 employees — live in the University’s nine-neighborhood focus area on the South Side.

As a result of the initiative, campus partners have removed barriers to employment for local justice-involved individuals and formed new partnerships with community groups and local workforce agencies to strengthen pathways to employment for local applicants. This includes coordinating and expanding internships for local youth as well as training hiring managers across the University in inclusive practices.

For Local Job Seekers

To find out how you can work for the University, visit our Human Resources page.

Live Local

As part of its UChicago Local commitment, the University offers faculty and staff a range of programs that support the purchase of new homes on the South Side.

UChicago Local also helps advance the University’s efforts to catalyze neighborhood revitalization and support housing stability for local residents, working with community and academic partners, including the Harris School of Public Policy, to collect neighborhood-specific housing data that is shared with residents to inform community-driven housing policy and strategies.

The Employer Assisted Housing Program (EAHP), led by the Office of Civic Engagement and Facilities Services, aims to enable middle-income employees to purchase homes that would otherwise be out of their financial reach, to increase homeownership on the South Side, and to contribute to the vibrancy of these communities while improving work/life balance for employees by reducing commuting times. The program provides a limited number of grants ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 (before taxes) to qualified applicants to support the purchase of a new home in qualifying neighborhoods: Douglas, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Hyde Park/South Kenwood, North Kenwood, Oakland, South Shore, Washington Park, and Woodlawn.

UChicago employees can learn more and apply here:

A fact sheet about the program is available here and an FAQ is available here.