Future Ties

Community Programs Accelerator

Nonprofit organizations play an important role in the health and vitality of local communities.

The Community Programs Accelerator, a program of the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement, helps equip nonprofits that serve the South Side with tools and resources to fulfill their unique missions. Since it was established in 2014, the Accelerator has served more than 160 community-based organizations.

Accelerator Program

The Accelerator provides customized support to address the critical needs of small-to mid-size nonprofits across the South Side. Support may include training, coaching, or technical assistance in the following areas:

  • Program design and evaluation
  • Data systems and data-informed decision making
  • Community partnership development
  • Financial management
  • Fundraising and grant writing
  • Human resource systems and staff development
  • Strategic and succession planning

To be considered for the Accelerator, organizations must be nonprofit corporations, preferably with 501c3 status, whose work benefits residents in at least one of the following nine South Side neighborhoods in the University of Chicago’s focus area: Douglas, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, South Shore, Washington Park, and Woodlawn. 


Apply Now

Learn more and access the application here.

Through the Accelerator, nonprofit organizations can:

BUILD CONNECTIONS with UChicago faculty, staff, and students, as well as civic leaders in the Accelerator’s network, whose work and interests align with the organization’s mission.

EXCHANGE KNOWLEDGE with other area nonprofits and social impact leaders to build organizational and individual capacity.

ACCESS RESOURCES such as in-kind project support from UChicago students, staff, and consultants, and grant support.

SCALE IMPACT by developing the tools, leadership skills, and network to become an even stronger organization.

Service Levels

Organizations receive grant funding and, over the course of two to three years, are provided with support from the Accelerator in multiple growth areas based on an organizational needs assessment.

Organizations receive support from the Accelerator on a tailored, one-year project plan designed to address one to two growth areas.

Organizations receive support from the Accelerator over a three- to six-month period on one distinct project in marketing, program development and evaluation, data and technology, or fund development.

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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anewishki featherfist homeless count

“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
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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black girls break bread Jessica Davenport-Williams
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
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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