Investing in Opportunity, Chicago
Chicago is a vibrant and dynamic city, but not every resident is sharing in the economic growth. Building on our more than 150-year history in Chicago, in 2017 we made a $40 million, three-year pledge to expand access to opportunity on the city’s South and West sides.
We are proud to see that our investments are beginning to make a real impact in people’s lives. Each person who has graduated from a training program and landed a new job, and each entrepreneur who has gotten financing to expand his or her business, is our true metric of success.
We know our efforts are only one part of the broader solution needed to address the decades of disinvestment, racial wealth divide, concentrated poverty and associated gun violence that are impeding the ability of too many Chicagoans to fulfill their potential. But by putting our model for driving inclusive growth into action — in collaboration with our deeply committed partners — we believe we are making a meaningful contribution.
"A year ago, we lauded Chase’s $40 million infusion into the South and West sides, largely because the bank’s philanthropy had a proven track record in Detroit. [It is] a private sector-driven formula for community rebirth that we admire: Use an initial chunk of money to lay the groundwork for outside investors to see the payoff in revving up underserved markets. And do more than just dole out cash. Link up with proven community groups that know where the money can be best invested, block by block. …Chase has set a template for how corporate philanthropy can play a major role in neighborhood turnarounds."
The Chicago Tribune (Editorial) “How Chase Seeks to Seed Prosperity on Chicago’s South and West Sides,” Dec. 17, 2018
With JPMorgan Chase’s $40 million, three-year* commitment
* Commitment made in September 2017.
Opening a Door
Like many young people, South side native Floyd Wilson did not have a clear plan for his life. “After graduating high school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he says. “There were things I wanted to try but it never really worked out.” That changed when Wilson, now 26, heard about BSD Industries at his church one day. “I feel like God just opened that door for me.”
BSD Industries — a social enterprise of the Arthur M. Brazier Foundation that produces plastic products such as compostable cutlery — also operates a robotics technician training program that prepares trainees for jobs in advanced manufacturing. In 2017, JPMorgan Chase expanded our work with the Brazier Foundation with a $500,000 commitment to support the program.
It was 2015 when Wilson heard about BSD Industries. Fast-forward to 2018, and he was a member of the first cohort to graduate from BSD’s workforce development program, trained in AutoCAD, industrial and electrical controls and robotics programming. He was excited to put those skills to work at his new job at automotive parts supplier Flex-N-Gate. “Robotics programming awakened something in me I never knew I had,” says Wilson. “I can honestly say BSD completely changed my life.”
Artisan entrepreneurs on Chicago’s South side have the talent, drive and innovative ideas they need to succeed – and now they also have the space and institutional support that all entrepreneurs need. We’re thrilled to partner with JPMorgan Chase to bring life-changing, hands-on training and mentorship to small business owners in this part of the city.
Theaster Gates Jr., Artist and Founder and Executive Director of Rebuild Foundation