2022 Chicago Tribune FoodLab article:  FoodLab Chicago Tribune Jan 18, 2022

Program Shortcuts:

LISC-SBA Community Navigator Program– Intake and Consent Form

GCI is a partner in the SBA’s Community Navigator, a federal program to assist small businesses at the community level. 

Help us to help you, the SBA requires certain intake request for counseling and consent forms.    gci-lisc-dbo-intake-form-sba-3615-and-addendum-072522 

Talk to your consultant, please complete and return to

Sources for economic support


Free legal clinic Oct 6th

Does Your Small Business Need Legal Support?

This Small Business Legal Clinic Can Help!


Thursday, October 6, 2022, 9:30 am -12:30 pm


The Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation

815 W. 63rd Street, 4th Floor, Chicago, IL 60621                                                             Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation

Client Intake Form

Advance Registration Required, September 30 deadline   Complete the Intake Form today!

Join us for a no-cost legal clinic presented by the Chicago Lawyers’ 

Committee for Civil Rights and other legal partners from across Chicagoland.


Legal Education Workshop on Intellectual Property, Employment,
Contract Provisions and Business Structure (20 minutes each)

Private sessions with lawyers to address small business legal questions (20-minute time slots)


KIVA Micro-loan program

Kiva is a 501(c)3 U.S. nonprofit fueled by passionate people. Founded in 2005, and based in San Francisco, with offices in Bangkok, Nairobi, Portland and staff around the globe.     

4.4 million borrowers, 77 countries, 2.1 million lenders, funded $1.8 billion in loans, 96.4% repayment rate

Loans from $1,000 – $15,000        0% interest, no fees,paid back over 36 months 

Administered by our friends at the Women’s Business Development Center     matching lending from LISC  Chicago  


KIVA  borrowing     more details







  1. Apply to KIVA through the WBDC
  2. $1,000 – $15,000 as determined by KIVA
  3. Invite friends and family to join in your campaign with a $25 loan (will be repaid)
  4. Then your project is opened to KIVA’s 1.6 million participants and you have 30 days for them to sign up with their $25+ participations.  LISC will match $ for $ each KIVA participant/lender

0% interest, 0% fees,  paid back to all lenders/participants over 36 months.

For more information reach out to:

Raymond Fears      


Comcast RISE

Comcast RISE   


Investment Fund         $10,000 grants 

Application period  October 3rd – 16th  

110 small business $10,000 grants in Cook County.  Winners announced end of November awarded in December.

  • Established business operations for 3 or more years.
  • 25 or less full-time and part-time employees
  • At least 51% owned and operated by someone who identifies as person of color, including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and Asian American owners, or a woman


Marketing Services and Tech Makeovers

Comcast RISE Marketing & Technology Services opened on June 18, 2022, and will close on October 16, 2022. Click below to apply for Comcast RISE Marketing & Technology Services.     Market Services only 


Verizon / LISC Small Business Digital Ready

Verizon / LISC Small Business Digital Ready Online Curriculum

and $10,000 grant opportunity

Now available online curriculum is designed to give small businesses tools to succeed in today’s digital world.  Learning modules can help your business thrive, with topics such as SEO, working remotely, and finance management.  Learning modules, expert coaching, peer networking, and more.

Register for a free online curriculum.   Complete two courses or one coaching event and then be eligible to apply for a Verizon Small Business Digital Ready $10,000 grant.   In order to unlock the application for this exclusive pool of funding, members must have completed two courses or live coaching events between July 1, 2022 and November 14, 2022, and completed by November 14th, 2022

More program details HERE


Program sign-up HERE

Need help registering?
Email or call +1(800)-916-4351

SBA – Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance (EIDL)

           EIDL application period ended December 31st.   

Just announced All COVID-19 EIDL loans will have the first payment due extended from 24-months to 30-months from the date of the Note.  

SBA Strongly Recommends Borrowers:

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call the Disaster Customer Service team at 833-853-5638 or email


If you are eligible to increase your EIDL funds the  deadline to apply on May 6th.

For those that received an original SBA COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)     You may be eligible for an increase in your loan amount. If the portal “Increase” button doesn’t work, borrowers have to send an e mail to with all the documents needs to ask for an increase

There is a new version of the IRS form 4506-T for COVID EIDL  HERE  


Important SCAM alert

PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) ended May 31st, 2021.    We have heard of scammers telling people PPP is opening again and to sign up.  They ask for all your personal and business information, bank accounts,  etc.  Beware!

New Reforms for SBA’s Community Advantage Loan Program

On March 30, 2022, Vice President Kamala Harris and Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced impactful reforms to the agency’s Community Advantage loan program, a key SBA tool for Community Development Financial Institutions, Community Development Companies, microlenders and other critical mission-based lending partners, that prioritizes equitable access to capital for low-income borrowers and those from underserved communities.  7 (a) program 

Learn more



Discover Center 87th/Cottage Grove Employee Meal Program

Due to supply chain issues, Discover Center is some two months behind in their buildout.

Discover Customer Care Center at 8560 S Cottage Grove provides their employees free meals.  Currently, they have 150 employees split into two shifts, day time and evening.  In April they will finish construction and expand to 500 employees, with plans to grow to 1,000.     Discover is in search of local catering partners to offer meal service.  Their focus is supporting local restaurants along with providing their employees a nutritious offering.  Discover has a group of restaurants servicing the current 150 employees, but with the new expansion, they need a much larger group of restaurants to service the meal program.  There are also opportunities for catering events and activities at the Center.   Discover is moving fast (schedule below) so do not delay getting on this opportunity.

Food Catering Requirements

Feb 15th Q&A webinar PowerPoint

Mindful Nutrient Criteria

Discover Center Feb Mar and April Plan


To be considered complete the NDA and questionnaire and return to Victoria.  Deadline noon  Friday, Feb 25th.

Discover Mutual NDA

Food Catering Questionaire 2.15.22 

If you need assistance filling out the forms, please contact Victoria Elkind at or 224-804-4444.  If you need a hard copy mailed or dropped off, they can do so.  Additional support from Vensha White Johnson or at 224-619-8560

If you need more details:  John

TIF corridors of interest, Lottery results

SBIF Program – Somercor website

The City of Chicago’s Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) promotes economic development by providing small businesses with reimbursable grants for permanent building improvement costs. SBIF grants use local Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenue to reimburse you for the pre-approved repair or rehab of your business facilities or adjacent land acquisition.

SBIF grants are available for commercial and industrial businesses and property owners.  No residential. SBIF  provides grants up to $150,000 to commercial businesses for 90% of the costs of permanent building improvements such as storefront renovations, building systems, interior remodeling, roof replacement.

More info and application HERE

AvalonPark/ South Shore,  Just (re)opened    Application deadline May 31st   79th Street East of the skyway.      

67th – Wentworth  Lottery results   67th Wentworth 1-12-2022 Lottery Results

87th – Cottage Grove Lottery results   87th-cottage-grove lottery results

May 2nd, 26  grant finalists from Jan 31st round:   Spring CRP 26 Finalists

July 18th, 79 grant finalists from March 10th round:  Summer CRP 79 Finalist

GCI Area Finalist  GCI Area Grant Finalist

We are now past the last  August 19th application deadline. We are expecting the Department of Planning to open the next round December/January time frame.  Start working on your applications (or prep for reapplying) now.  

The City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) was expecting over a thousand applications for the August 19th application window.  Depending on how long it takes them to wade through applications and make funding decisions then they’ll start looking at the opening for applications for the next round.   Competition for these grants is very strong.  You should start now upgrading your application in the situation you don’t get funded. 

Again this is grant (not a loan) funding to support local commercial, mixed-use, and light manufacturing development.  City staff will prioritize projects in areas of Chicago where there is a history of disinvestment or limited private investment.  Project selections are based on business readiness, viability, location, design, neighborhood needs, community impact, and other factors. 


Greater Chatham Initiative – Special information sessions in July         

GCI Presentation PowerPoint:  

GCI Presentation CRP Grants July 23, 2022

GCI Presentation CRP Grants July 11, 2022


Tuesday, Jul 5th  REPLAY HERE

        Featuring Nedra Fears funding for Artist on the 9s project

Monday, Jul 11th   REPLAY HERE

        Featuring Lori Seay , of Soul Vegetarian City  Spring Finalist, Stony Island Commarisary project

Saturday, Jul 23rd    REPLAY HERE

           Featuring Constance Simms-Kincaid   Summer CRP Finalist,  5 Loaves Eatery expansion project

 More info:    Ray Fears    (773) 644.1451



  • Grant funding can be used for pre-development, construction, or renovation costs for permanent capital improvement projects.
  • CRP will pay for the acquisition of the property costs, but only up to an amount equal to the construction costs.  For example, if the property’s purchase price is $100,000. If renovations are $25,000, CRP would provide another $25,000 toward the property’s purchase.
  • Open to community developers, business owners and entrepreneurs, and property owners. Site control is preferred, but not required.
  • Residential-only development is not eligible, but mixed-use projects are eligible. Further funding opportunities for residential projects are expected to be announced in Q1 2022.
  • Priority will be given to catalytic projects with a strong local impact, that are able to leverage local talents, capacities, and institutions to strengthen and contribute to the community.
  • Applicants from all areas of Chicago are eligible to apply. Priority will be given for projects in historically disinvested areas as well as projects that build upon existing efforts, such as Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West initiative and community safety initiatives.
  • Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate momentum and are expected to break ground in 2022.
  • The City expects awards to be capped at $5 million, though larger, catalytic projects may be considered.


 The first-round application deadline was Jan. 31, 2022, followed by a second-round application deadline of March 10, 2022. The deadline for this year’s final round was  August 19, 2022.  The City has not given notice for the next application window.  Our sense is it will be December / January.  

To reapply:  you must “withdraw”  your old application and creat a new application

Tips:    First go through your first application and down load into a folder all your attachments

Second down load a PDF of your application

Then “withdraw” your first application

Log out, go to the CRP website and select the link to the application.  It will link you to Submittable and start a new application.

You can cut and paste from your downloaded PDF.


 DPD CRP Grants website

Prepare to Apply

Applications will be segmented based on the size of the grant. Grant requests should represent no more than 75 percent of the anticipated total project cost.   For example, at 75% reimbursement, a $250,000 would support a $333,333 project cost.

SMALL GRANTS:     Grants for less than $250,000 (Small) HERE

Have to submit your grant request online (above links),  for your reference here is a PDF of the questions being asked.

                    Sample <$250K application

Project Description pages 5 &6

                  sample_ application Project Description pgs 5 &6

Project Budget and Finance pages 11,12, & 13

                   Costs and Financing pgs 11,12,13


LARGE GRANTS:    Grants larger than $250,000  up to $5 million

NEW:  The large grant application must now be submitted online   

                Large Grant Online Application HERE

  • Site Control
  • Photos
  • Describe proposed project
  • Project purpose
  • Financial need
  • Developer Input form required and upload
  • Sources of funds
  • Design & construction documentation
  • City of Chicago  construction compliance

            Universal Financial Request Application (has to be submitted online below are samples of the online application for your review)


                  2022-August Word Doc of Large GRant Application Must be completed online

2022-August Large Application Word Doc of essay questions and important uploads

                     Developer input form – not macro enabled (down load ZIP file for active input form)

                             FID Developer Input form not macro enabled


Zip file download of old universal application and Developer Input Form    HERE


Helpful Grant Resources and Explanations    HERE

        Project Readiness / Financial Feasibility / Construction Planning / Catalytic Impact / Business Planning


Strong applications have:

Very competitive, one in ten chance of being selected 


1) Site control

              Own the property, letter of intent to purchase, lease of at least 3 years

2) Project

              Clear description, drawings, pictures

              Detailed project budget with contractor bids

              Financing for your 25%

              Project and construction timeline


3) Business Plan

              How you are going to make money?

              How big is the market?


              Your and the team’s resumes, that you have done this before


4) Community

              Is your project catalytic?

              Activating a disinvested area

              How many new jobs, training opportunities?

              Bring new customers into the area?

              Aligned with the community plans and development?


5) Design and Visual appeal

Equity & Inclusion: Achieving fair treatment, targeted support, and prosperity for all citizens

Innovation: Implementing creative approaches to design and problem solving

Sense of Place: Celebrating and strengthening the culture of our communities

Sustainability: Committing to environmental, cultural, and financial longevity

Communication: Fostering design appreciation and responding to community needs



Chicago Recovery Plan Community Development Grant Information Session

An informational webinar was held Wednesday, Jan. 6. Watch a recording of the webinar here,

City’s January 6th Powerpoint Presentation:   download the presentation 

frequently asked questions.

For advice and potential resources to help with your application, please go to the Community Development Grant Resources page.

For any additional questions, please email



Comparison NOF to CRP


Neighborhood Opportunity Fund Grants (NOF)

Small  <$250,000   Large <$2.5 million

Reimbursements 50% project, 25% wealth bonus, 25% hire local

Acquisition 50% Small,  30% Large

Specific corridors – In Invest South/West, priority zones

Commercial properties only


Chicago Recovery Plan Community Development Grants (CRP)

Small  <$250,000   Large <$5 million

Reimbursements 75% project

Acquisition 75% Small,  75% Large

Specific corridors – Chicago city limits

Commercial with some residential, light manufacturing

Vanilla box buildout without an identified tenant

Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF)


Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF)

Latest Finalist   012022-sept-nof-finalist

NOF Small & Large last deadline was August 19th (same as Chicago Recovery Grants).   

We are expecting NOF (& CRP) to open again end of the year 2022 and again Q3 2023   

NOF Finalist

Completed projects

Neighborhood Opportunity Fund are grants (not loans) that help strengthen commercial corridors in Chicago’s South, Southwest and West Sides.  The NOF finances commercial and cultural projects in neighborhoods that lack private investment, using revenue generated from downtown development.

Projects like:  

  • Storefront buildout
  • Facade repair, window door replacement
  • Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC work
  • New Construction
  • Property acquistion
  • Roofing repair

See if your project is in a NOF Corrridor HERE

Neighborhood Fund (NOF) Guidelines and information  HERE

August 2021 City NOF Info Session REPLAY

2021 Aug Info Session PowerPoint

NOF summary flyer Aug 2020


Complete details on the NOF Website INFO

NOF contact at the City HERE

Project eligibility:

NOF does not award grants for the construction or rehabilitation of residential uses, manufacturing uses, industrial uses, social services (including daycare and elder care), or places of worship that do not identify commercial as the primary use of a project. Non-profit organizations are eligible for the NOF grant, but they must be engaged in a retail or commercial activity or providing a cultural asset that is open to the public.



Grant Types  – How much funding can you get?

NOF offers two types of grants: Small Projects (assistance of $250,000 or less), and Large Projects (assistance of $250,001 – $2.5M). The NOF assistance available to your project depends on the project location and the amount of financial assistance being requested.

Small Projects (grants up to $250,000)

NOF Small Projects must be located in an Eligible Commercial Corridor, which are public streets that are generally zoned for retail or commercial uses. Projects are required in these locations so that they can be concentrated to create a larger, collective impact. Projects may also be located within a Priority Investment Corridor, which is similar to an Eligible Commercial Corridor, but has a greater amount of retail or commercial activity. Although not required, projects located within Primary Investment Corridors, will receive extra weight during the application review process.

Please refer to the Project Eligibility map below to determine if your project is eligible for the grant.

Large Projects (grants exceeding $250,000, up to $2.5M)

NOF Large Projects do not have to be located in an Eligible Commercial Corridor, but must be located within the Qualified Investment Area (QIA).  Large Projects must receive City Council approval and a Redevelopment Agreement that governs the terms of the grant.  Large Projects are subject to the City’s construction compliance requirements, which include MBE/WBE, Local Hiring and Prevailing Wage (as established by the Illinois Department of Labor). We encourage applicants to contact us with questions about NOF Large Projects in advance of submitting an application.

Projects located within an Eligible Commercial Corridor are eligible for both the Small and Large Project grants; however, projects that are located outside of an Eligible Commercial Corridor and requesting more than $250,000 are only eligible for Large Project grants.


Applications are prioritized based on the following four key factors:

  1. Catalytic impact. Applicants should submit projects that provide services or goods currently lacking in an area, and specify how their projects will build stronger communities or commercial corridors.
  2. Project readiness. Applicants should have site control of the project property, or be engaged in the process of obtaining site control. Selected properties should not have significant issues, such as mechanic liens, court orders or past due property taxes.
  3. Project financial feasibility. Applicants should clearly identify the uses of grant funds and the sources of, or the strategy to obtain, their portion of funding.
  4. Construction implementation. Applicants should demonstrate a clear and ready path to implementation.

The City’s Department of Planning and Development reviews all applications and submits them to an Advisory Committee, which is comprised of community leaders who represent a cross-section of neighborhoods. The committee reviews DPD’s recommendations for final selection and provides approval or feedback.



Seaway / Self-Help FCU


Self-Help Federal Credit Union  Small Business Loan Programs

Chicago Food Enterprise Loans  (C-FEL) for Food Entrepreneurs of Color 

Target Food Business Segments 

1. Food Service Providers – i.e., caterers and food trucks 

2. Commercial Kitchens 

3. Grocery Stores – including Ethnic Grocery Stores, Health Food Stores, corner grocers

4. Restaurants – including Full Service and Limited Service, Juice Bars 

5. Food Innovation – including technology products for healthy food retail.


Loans for working capital, inventory, equipment, and leasehold improvements.

  • Loan amounts from $15K – $250K
  • No or Low equity and collateral requirements
  • Interest rates starting at 5.5% fixed
  • Most loans include 12-month interest-only period, and terms up to 11 years

Loans for real estate acquisition and renovation

  • Loan amounts from $100K to $1M+
  • Up to 90-100% loan to value (LTV)
  • competitive interest rates

How to qualify

  • Be an existing business or nonprofit with at least two years of tax returns
  • Be located in Chicago Metropolitan Area
  • Serve the Black or Latino community
  • Be a food system entrepreneur operating in a low- or moderate-income community
  • Be currently open and operating
  • Have no outstanding judgments or tax liens
  • Have no bankruptcies in the last three years

Funding subject to availability 

C-FEL Flyer   C-FEL Flyer

Pivot Loan Program

For non-food related businesses please consider the Pivot Loan program.

Pivot Loan Program

Funding subject to availability 


For more information and other financial products:

Cynthia Valle

Chris Dorsey 


Commercial  Team

Self-Help CU website 



State of Illinois DCEO


State of Illinois Department of Commerce

& Economic Opportunity

DCEO Website


Advancing the Development of Minority Entrepreneurship (ADME)

ADME is a community investment program developed to strengthen Illinois’ start-up and small business community ecosystem by tapping into the potential of minority business owners and entrepreneurs. ADME supports the Department’s commitment to growing minority and women-owned businesses and increasing diversity in businesses and within the Illinois economy. Through the ADME program, we offer resources to high-potential minority entrepreneurs and provide start to finish support to help them grow their businesses. Interested business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs can receive focused business education and potential access to capital to get their business off the


Advantage Illinois – FAME Program
Advantage Illinois’ new FAME Program (“Fund for the Advancement of Minority Enterprises”) is a dramatic upgrading of our former Minority/Women/Disabled/Veteran Participation Loan Program. Though still structured as a Participation Loan Program, this new Fund underlines the State’s promise to focus on fostering new and expanding small business entrepreneurship among minority and women-owned businesses. The FAME Program, funded by “Recycled SSBCI Funds”, will provide 50% of the entrepreneur’s overall Project Cost of the specific Loan that DCEO is participating in, up to a maximum of $400,000 of AL Funds, with a fixed interest rate on the Advantage Illinois portion set at 2%.

DCEO Program Flyer FAME

Illinois Office of Minority Economic Empowerment
555 W. Monroe, 12th Floor  Chicago, IL 60661
Website: Email: 

Chicago contact: Sacella Smith

Black Women in Food

$10,000 grants for Black Women-owned restaurants       

The EatOkra Black Women in Food Grants provide capital for Black women to accelerate growth for their brick-and-mortar restaurants. Aligned with EatOkra’s values, the opportunity will enable these businesses to “spread their wings and embrace their visions for tomorrow.”



  • Self-identify as a Black woman
  • Operate a brick-and-mortar restaurant location
  • Currently own at least 50 percent of a restaurant business
  • Be open for at Least six months, but no longer than 5 year

Prepare these documents for your application

  • Profit and Loss Statement for 2021


EatOkra  Black Women in Food Grant website:   HERE

EatOkra  Black Women in Food Grant application:  HERE

Grant application questions:   EatOkra Grant Questions

Application pretty elementary  20-30 minutes to complete

questions about you and your business plus:

  1. Describe how you would use the $10,000 funding to accelerate growth for your business? 1000 CHARACTER MAX 
  2. In what ways will your use of the $10,000 impact women of color? 1000 CHARACTER MAX


Any questions or assistance please contact Tamieka Hardy, FoodLab Chicago Coordinator,    773-644-1451  


Complete details on the NOF Website INFO

NOF contact at the City HERE

Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF) Large Grants ($ >250,000) are now open. Rolling application, no deadline.  NOF Large Grant Online Application HERE 

NOF website


St of IL Back to Business

Back to Business (B2B)

State of Illinois Back to Business (B2B) $250 million in grants 

Deadline to apply has passed and the application portal is now closed

See the latest list of grantees by zip code  (Awards in progress section select “list of grantees” ):     HERE


Goldman Sachs Programs

Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business program

Through the program, you will gain practical skills across topics such as financial statements negotiation, marketing, and employee management, and gain the tools to develop a customized business plan for growth—for free.

10KSB provides 3 Cohorts per year.

  • Winter– Early January through Mid April
  • Spring/Summer– Mid May through Mid August
  • Fall– Mid September through Early December

We are accepting applications for our 33rd Cohort starting September 2022, and ending December 2022. The application deadline for this session is June 2, 2022.

Get on their mailing list   HERE

One Million Black Women: Black in Business

In partnership with Black women-led organizations and other partners, our new investment initiative, One Million Black Women will commit $10 billion in direct investment capital and $100 million in philanthropic support to address the dual disproportionate gender and racial biases that Black women have faced for generations, which have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

More information HERE


Women's Business Development Center (WBDC)


Women’s Business Development Center Programs

WBDC Website

The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) is proud to present Top Shelf: High Volume Retail Growth Insights. This 8-week program is designed to help established businesses grow into the mass retail market. 

Next Cohort application deadlin e April 1st

Information HERE

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