Community Wealth
Building In Chicago

The City’s Investment

As part of the Chicago Recovery Plan, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and The Mayor’s Office of Equity and Racial Justice (OERJ) launched the Community Wealth Building (CWB) Initiative—a $15 million investment in CWB enterprises, infrastructure, and capacity-building.


The Chicago Community Wealth Building Ecosystem (CCWBE) is the ‘hub’ for Research & Convening for worker-owned cooperatives, community land trusts, limited equity housing cooperatives, community investment vehicles, and other ecosystem partners. CCWBE aims to advance models of local, democratic, and shared ownership and control throughout Chicago but especially on the south and west sides of our city. The CCWBE hub does this by convening community wealth building (CWB) working groups, developing tools and other resources, connecting and building the capacity of ecosystem partners, conducting research and communicating the impact of community wealth building. CCWBE is currently being incubated at the Center for Urban Economic Development (CUED) at the University of Illinois Chicago. 

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Community Wealth Building Values


Ownership and control are in the hands of neighborhood residents. Local residents should benefit most from neighborhood assets.

Residents in other Chicago neighborhoods or outside of the city entirely generate the greatest financial benefits from economic development.


Collective governance and decision-making facilitate greater community engagement and control, building collective resident power.

Economic development decision-making is hierarchical and exclusionary, prioritizing developer and corporate voices while marginalizing legacy residents.


Ownership of community assets (like businesses, housing, and real estate) are in the hands of many residents. This allows more people to benefit and builds genuine community wealth.

The benefits of economic development are concentrated in the hands of just one person or a privileged few, negating community wealth building.

Chicago's Community Wealth Building Initiative

Chicago's CWB Initiative focuses on three strategic goals intended to catalyze sustainable and equitable development in Chicago's neighborhoods.

The CWB initiative was thoughtfully sequenced in three phases: first, to strengthen the capacity of Chicago's ecosystem; second, to advance emerging projects across our four priority models; and finally, to invest in more established cooperative pilot projects.

First, the CWB Initiative granted approximately $6 million to 16 local and national technical assistance organizations to provide high-quality, specialized, and culturally-relevant technical assistance services at no cost to eligible early-stage CWB enterprises — worker cooperatives, limited equity housing cooperatives, community land trusts, and community investment vehicles. The grantees represent six core elements of the CWB ecosystem:

Second, the CWB Initiative granted about $4 million to 25 early-stage CWB projects to build the pipeline of shovel-ready, investment-ready cooperative projects that meet community priorities. The grantees work in one or more of the City’s four prioritized CWB models:

Third, the CWB Initiative will offer approximately $4 million in large-scale development grants and pilot projects.

Request for proposals coming early 2024!

in c/o cooperative

Anchored in West Englewood, the Co-op is a cooperatively-owned retail, gallery, and studio space for artists of all levels. They offer art-centered events and retreats, membership-based creative facility use, and studio/event space rentals for artists on the south and west sides of Chicago.

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos/United Workers Center

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos’ Southeast Cooperative Business Incubator (SCBI) provides training to develop successful worker cooperative businesses in Chicago's southeast side and surrounding suburban neighborhoods.

HAZ Cooperative Studios

HAZ Cooperative Studios is an artist-owned, cooperatively-run organization designed to remove paywalls and provide accessibility, resources, and opportunities to artists, specifically artists in disenfranchised communities, so they may pursue a career from their art.

in c/o cooperative

Ubicado en West Englewood, la Cooperative es un espacio de propiedad cooperativa con areas comerciales, galeria, y estudio para artistas de todos los niveles. Ofrecen eventos y retiros centrados en el arte, membresia para el uso de las instalaciones creativas, y alquiler de espacios de eventos/estudios para artistas del sur y el oeste de Chicago.

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos/United Workers Center

El Incubador de Negocios Cooperativos del Sureste (SCBI por sus siglas en inglés) del Centro de Trabajadores Unidos ofrece entrenamiento para el desarrollo exitoso de negocios cooperativos de trabajadores en el sureste de Chicago y los suburbios vecinos.

HAZ Cooperative Studios

La Cooperativa de Estudios HAZ es una organización propiedad de artistas, administrada de manera cooperativa, diseñada para remover barreras de pago y ofrecer accesibilidad, recursos y oportunidades a artistas, específicamente aquellos que forman parte de comunidades privadas de derechos, para que sea posible que continúen su carrera en el arte.

Chicago Community Wealth Building Ecosystem (CCWBE) Hub

The Center for Urban Economic Development (CUED) at the University of Illinois Chicago serves as the Chicago Community Wealth Building Ecosystem (CCWBE) ‘Hub’ for Research & Convening. The CCWBE Hub supports the broad CWB ecosystem (both grantees and non-grantees) in four primary ways:

Convening & facilitating working groups for each CWB model

Developing & disseminating tools and other resources

Brokering relationships & making referrals that build the capacity of ecosystem partners

Conducting research, disseminating reports & communicating the impact of CWB

Our People

Stacey Sutton (she/they)

Stacey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Policy at UIC, and the Co-Director of the Solidarity Economy Research, Policy, and Law Project at CUED. Her scholarship focuses on economic democracy, solidarity economy, collective action, and racial justice.

Renee Hatcher (she/her)

Renee is a human rights and solidarity economy lawyer. She is an Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Community Enterprise & Solidarity Economy Clinic at UIC Law. Renee serves as Co-director of the Solidarity Economy Research, Policy, and Law Project at CUED.

Jenna Pollack (she/her)

Jenna is a community-engaged researcher, dance professional, cultural organizer, and educator. She has worked with Borderless Workshop, Arts Alliance Illinois, Springboard Danse Montréal, and as an Assistant Professor of Dance at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee.

Claudia Espinel (she/her)

Claudia's experiences fuel her passion for a world embracing differences for connection and compassion, prioritizing community in decisions, and placing justice at the organizational core. Her background spans development, intercultural learning, partnerships, and communication.

Getting Started?
Get Some Help.

Is your organization in the early stages of developing or launching a community wealth building initiative? Check out our “Getting Started” tool to help identify the pieces you'll need to put into place.

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