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. 


Applying to the Accelerator

Learn more about eligibilty and the next application cycle 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.

the simple good
The Simple Good

The Community Programs Accelerator connected founder Priya Shah with a team of Harris School of Public Policy graduate students who are members of Harris Community Action (HCA). These worked closely with Shah to explore what it would take to expand operations.

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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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imagine englewood if
Michelle Rashad
Certificate in Nonprofit Management

After completing the first year of the two-year UChicago Certificate in Nonprofit Management program, Rashad reports that she has used what she’s learned to better define her role as executive director; evaluate and restructure programming to focus Imagine Englewood if's mission; and continue work with the board as it helps with strategic planning.

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catherine jackson woodlawn restorative justice hub
Woodlawn Restorative Justice Hub

Jackson says a recent nonprofit bridge grant from the University of Chicago will help her adapt the ways she and her three part-time colleagues support the young people currently in the Woodlawn Restorative Justice Hub program to better meet them where they are in this crisis.

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kelly fair polished pebbles
Polished Pebbles

The nonprofit has been able to further bolster its quick transition to digital platforms and otherwise sustain itself in the weeks since with help from a bridge grant from the University of Chicago.

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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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