Why We Exist

A Better Chicago is changing how Chicago fights poverty by investing in bold ideas that create opportunity for our youth.

1 in 4 Chicago youth are living in poverty today.

In our schools, 76 percent of Chicago Public Schools students depend on school for meals and more than 16,400 are homeless. Growing up in one of the most segregated major cities in the United States, Chicago’s low-income youth are often trapped in a cycle of intergenerational poverty that disproportionately impacts our Black and Latinx communities.

While traditional philanthropies focus on established nonprofits, A Better Chicago aims to find and nurture promising early initiatives, or ones just beyond that stage that are on the cusp of expansion. Often, they are run by local leaders who live or grew up in the communities they serve.

We employ a venture capital approach: We raise money from donors who want to maximize their impact, and we invest in innovative youth-serving nonprofits that have the potential to expand exponentially. We vet them rigorously before investing, and our continued support depends on them meeting mutually agreed milestones.

As with a venture capital fund, our goal is for our investments to eventually flourish without us. We provide unrestricted funding, renewed annually based on performance. We also provide ongoing guidance and resources to help nonprofits grow. This includes funding or in-kind support for specific needs, such as strategic planning, marketing and communications, executive development or hiring.

Our administrative expenses are covered by our board, ensuring that every donor dollar is deployed to the nonprofits we support.

We have provided more than $65 million in unrestricted funding and management support to help the nonprofits in our portfolio grow.

We’re a venture philanthropy. We do your homework and invest your money in Chicago’s best nonprofits.


Our progress to date

We have made compelling progress since opening our doors in 2010. Together, we have:

  • Raised more than $65 million from more than 2,200 donors to invest in Chicago’s most effective youth-serving nonprofits;
  • Vetted over 1000 organizations to build our current portfolio of 27 high-impact nonprofits providing opportunity for Black and Latinx youth
  • Cultivated a community of supporters, including partnerships with world-class professional services firms who help organizations tackle their most pressing strategic and operational challenges; and
  • Launched an Emergency Relief Fund in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has provided $2.5 million in grant dollars to 47 Chicago nonprofits addressing the urgent needs of thousands of low-income youth and families.

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