Allies for Community Business works with public, private, and nonprofit partners to invest in underserved communities.

Public Partners

State of Illinois

In 2020, 2021, and 2022, with the Department of Commerce and Economic Development and a number of other nonprofits, we administered the Hospitality grant, Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan, Business Interruption Grant, and Back to Business grant programs. Through these pandemic response programs we provided 12,500 small businesses with nearly $400M in grants and loans to help stabilize their businesses.

Learn more

City of Chicago

In 2023 we continue to serve as one of eight Chicago Business Centers that provide free coaching on licensing and other topics. In 2020 and 2021, with the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection and a number of other nonprofits, we administered the Microbusiness Recovery grant, Together Now grant, Hospitality grant, Small Business Resiliency Fund, Chi Biz Strong grant, and Outdoor Dining grant programs. Through these pandemic response programs we provided over 8,500 small businesses with over $69M in grants and loans to help stabilize their businesses.

Learn more

Cook County

In 2022 and 2023, we continue to serve as a program administrator for the Cook County Small Business Source Grow Grant in partnership with the Women’s Business Development Center, and we continue to provide free coaching to county businesses. In 2021, we worked with Cook County to provide coaching to Back to Business Grant applicants. In 2020, with the Bureau of Economic Development and a number of other nonprofits, we supported the Resiliency Fund and Coaching/TA programs. Through these pandemic response programs we provided over 200 small businesses with approximately $3 million in grants and loans to help stabilize their businesses.

Learn more

Lake County

In 2023, we will continue to serve as the program administrator for the Small Business Growth Initiative in partnership with the Lake County Community Foundation, through which we are providing grants and coaching to diverse businesses in Waukegan. In 2020, with the County and Lake County Partners, we administered an emergency pandemic response grant program through which we provided over 1200 small businesses with over $17 million to help stabilize their businesses.

Learn more

City of South Bend

In 2023, we will continue to provide discounted loans and free coaching to South Bend businesses in partnership with CDFI-Friendly South Bend. In 2020, with the City and CDFI-Friendly South Bend, we administered emergency pandemic response loan and grant programs through which we provided over 65 small businesses with nearly $500 thousand to help stabilize their businesses.

Learn more

Private and Non-Profit Partners

Chicago Inclusive Growth Coalition

The Chicago Inclusive Growth Coalition is a collaboration of more than 50 business support organizations working together to help entrepreneurs grow. Our mission is to work together to 1) match diverse entrepreneurs to the community-based organizations that can serve them best and 2) serve those entrepreneurs well.

Learn more

Entrepreneurs of Color Fund

Through this fund, Allies for Community Business and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) provide capital and coaching to small businesses on Chicago’s South and West Sides to stimulate economic growth. The program was launched in July 2018 with support from JPMorgan Chase and Fifth Third Bank, and has grown through additional support from First Midwest Bank, U.S. Bank, The Coleman Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, and Providence Bank & Trust.

Learn more

West Side United

A collaboration of more than 30 organizations led by six hospital sponsors in Chicago, West Side United has partnered with JPMorgan Chase to support Chicago businesses on the West Side through a small business accelerator grants program. Allies for Community Business serves as the fiscal agent for the grant pool, and we have collectively provided grants totaling over $1.8M to over 160 West Side businesses through the first four years of the program.

Learn more

Microfinance Impact Collaborative

The Microfinance Impact Collaborative works to inform, strengthen, and accelerate the efforts of US microenterprise finance organizations that are committed to significantly increasing the impact of their work. Led by the Aspen Institute and comprised of several leading microlenders from across the United States, including Allies for Community Business, Ascendus, DreamSpring, Justine PETERSEN, LiftFund, and Opportunity Fund, the collaborative provides participating organizations with a venue and mechanism for collective learning and action.

Learn more

Chicagoland Opportunity Zones Consortium

The Chicagoland Opportunity Zones Consortium facilitates connections through matchmaking, education, and technical support to attract investments that create jobs, build wealth, and promote equitable development in Chicago and suburban Cook County. Nearly 30 entities came together to create the Consortium, which seeks to achieve five core goals: Attract Opportunity Zone Investments, Inform and Support Community Partners, Create Jobs and Build Wealth, Transform Communities through Equitable Development, and Facilitate Lasting Partnerships.

Learn more

Scale Link

Scale Link created and operates a secondary market for loans originated by community-based microlenders like A4CB. Scale Link’s secondary market is a tool that empowers CDFIs to close the small business financing gap that disproportionately affects very small businesses and entrepreneurs of color.

Learn more

Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights

Through this partnership, Allies for Community Business will help community business owners who require legal assistance to prepare for, and then work with, a pro bono attorney to handle pressing legal matters. Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights are civil rights lawyers and advocates working to secure racial equity and economic opportunity for all. They provide legal representation through partnerships with the private bar, and collaborate with grassroots organizations and other advocacy groups to implement community-based solutions that advance civil rights.

Learn more

Black Chamber of Commerce of Illinois

Through this partnership, Allies for Community Business will work with BCCI to serve the needs of small businesses in Central and Southern Illinois. BCCI’s mission is to empower black business owners to do their best work, while mitigating barriers to their success. Together we will be able to help Illinois businesses thrive and build capacity.

Learn more

CDFI Friendly America

CDFI Friendly America is a new strategy to connect under-financed people and communities to the $250+ billion CDFI network. Led by CDFI industry veterans Adina Abramowitz and Mark Pinsky, it solves a critical problem: CDFIs cannot be everywhere. The result of the CDFI Friendly process is a community-controlled nonprofit organization that understands and identifies financing opportunities in their communities and matches them to CDFIs. Local CDFI Friendly efforts help regional and national CDFIs solve the two major challenges they face lending in new markets: finding deals and managing risk in unfamiliar places. A4CB works with CDFI Friendly South Bend, CDFI Friendly Bloomington, and CDFI Friendly Evansville Region to get connected to entrepreneurs.

Learn more

Interested in
partnering with us?

Schedule a Session

Want to support
our mission?


Know of a small business that we can support?