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.

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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.


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.

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 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.

100 black men
100 Black Men of Chicago

“Being part of the Community Programs Accelerator allows us to move forward on purpose and with intention. We’re planning our next decade, which will be pivotal for us as we focus on what we can become rather than on what we are.” - Carl H. Tutt, Jr., 100 Black Men of Chicago Board President

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Deeply Rooted
Deeply Rooted Dance Theater

“The Community Programs Accelerator offers us an environment for thought-sharing and critical thinking, where we’re challenged to share our perspectives and formalize ideas that have been gestating. That’s really powerful." - Kevin Iega Jeff, Deeply Rooted Co-founder and Creative Director

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“Our first plan covered five years; this one is for three years. Things are changing so swiftly — we’re dancing as fast as we can."

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Hyde Park Neighborhood Club

HPNC plans to use their grant from UChicago in part to purchase laptops and tablets and help shift their programming to online platforms and to incorporate web-based tools into their programming structure permanently moving forward.

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Jessica Davenport-Williams
Certificate in Nonprofit Management

In March 2021, Davenport-Williams was among the first 14 nonprofit professionals to complete the free, two-year Certificate in Nonprofit Management program designed to equip nonprofit professionals like her to create, grow, and operate effective community-based organizations.

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Jonathan Swain
Civic Actor Studio

“Authentic and true leadership means drawing on who you really are in every context. It’s all there every time you walk through a door — there are aspects of all of us that can be collaborative, empathetic, listening, or decisive leaders.”

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