Future Ties

Community Programs Accelerator

Through this initiative, the University hopes to serve as a catalyst for the growth of innovative, high-capacity groups working in local neighborhoods. - Derek Douglas, Vice President for Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago

Nonprofit organizations play an important role in the health and vitality of local communities.  The Community Programs Accelerator, an initiative of the University of Chicago's Office of Civic Engagement,  will provide a central point for nonprofits to access a range of University of Chicago resources. Similarly, close working relationships with the people and organizations making a difference in the Mid-South Side will allow the University to leverage its research and organizational expertise—along with talent and support from community and industry partners—toward having a greater impact in the community.

Through partnerships with industry practitioners and connections to University resources, this new initiative will provide technical assistance to help develop and strengthen community-based organizations. It will also foster connections between these organizations, promoting a strong network of nonprofits in the mid-South Side.

Learn more

Accelerator Program

The Accelerator strives to address the capacity building needs of small-to mid-size nonprofits on the South Side. Organizations must either be located in and/or deliver a substantial portion of their programming in one or more of the following communities in order to qualify for accelerator participation and grant funding:  Douglas, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, South Shore, Washington Park, and Woodlawn. 

Learn how to apply.

Apply now

Civic Engagement - Community Programs

Through the Office of Civic Engagement's Community Programs Accelerator, nonprofit organizations will have the opportunity to:

Build Connections with University of Chicago faculty, administrators and students whose work aligns with the organization’s mission and with industry practitioners who can help the organization reach its goals.

Exchange Knowledge with other area nonprofits and participate in educational workshops that will strengthen the organization and its leaders.

Access Resources such as the University’s community programs directory and connections to student, staff, or faculty volunteers.

Make a Difference on the South Side by developing the network, tools, and leadership skills to become an even stronger organization.

To connect to the University's Community Programs team, please email communityprograms@uchicago.edu or sign-up for our mailing list.

Service Levels


The Accelerator provides customized and intensive support to selected organizations who operate in or who seek to operate in South Side communities. For one to three years, selected organizations receive grant funding, organizational needs assessments, a strategic annual work plan, along with tailored organizational development, technical and financial support services provided by staff, consultants, students, and faculty.


The Accelerator provides project-based support to select community-based organizations. For one year, nonprofits receive individualized organizational and technical support on a given project with the help of a University graduate student supervised by Accelerator staff and consultants.

Special Projects

For organizations with discrete project needs, the Accelerator provides consulting, technical, and implementation support matching organizations with University resources in the areas of marketing, program development and evaluation, data and technology, and fund development. These short term, three to six-month engagements are student-driven under the supervision of Accelerator staff.


The Accelerator convenes a cohort of sector-specific organizations to receive year-long support, encourage peer to peer collaboration, facilitate network building, and provide direct project support.


The Community Programs Accelerator works through the development of a strong set of partnerships. We invite all nonprofit, industry and community practitioners, as well as University students, faculty, and staff interested in getting involved in the mission of the Community Programs Accelerator to contact us.

Find us on