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Introducing Venture Fund

Written by A Better Chicago Staff on Jun 12, 2015

At A Better Chicago, we believe in scaling the most effective organizations that exist in our region. But we also believe that society’s best ideas are ahead of us. So in addition to funding more proven models, we also make bets on early stage programs that have the potential to achieve great things for Chicago’s low-income youth.   

A Better Chicago’s venture fund (formerly called Project Impact) makes seed investments in promising, early stage programs and in national organizations that are expanding to Chicago for the first time.  We’re looking for passionate, capable leaders who have developed models that have the potential to both dramatically improve student outcomes and scale to serve hundreds or thousands of students in Chicago each year.

Our plan is to make one or two new investments each year through our venture fund. Each venture fund grantee will receive 1) a two-year grant of $50K-$200K and 2) two years of customized management support. At the end of that time, each venture fund grantee will be considered for our growth fund.

Interested?  Submit your application by July 31st. And, help us spread the word about venture fund by sharing this post and directing potential applicants to our website. We look forward to learning about all of the amazing work that social entrepreneurs are doing to build a better Chicago. 


Who is eligible to apply? 

Venture fund is intended for organizations that are not yet eligible to join the growth fund. Eligible candidates must expect to significantly impact the metrics on A Better Chicago’s college success dashboard. They must either be an early stage organization (typically five years old or younger), or they must be launching in Chicago for the first time.  All eligible organizations must have a strong leader who can and will take the organization to great heights. See here for the full selection criteria.


Is my social enterprise eligible? 

A Better Chicago only invests in nonprofit organizations. All candidates must have 501c3 status, receipt of a 501c3 application, or operate with a fiscal sponsor.


I operate a new program within a larger organization; am I eligible?

No. A Better Chicago only invests in stand-alone nonprofit organizations.


What is the application process? 

Interested candidates must submit an application by July 31st.  Our staff and leadership council will review applications and select the finalists. Finalists will submit business plans, conduct interviews, and host site visits in October. Up to two winners will be announced in November.

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