CCLF Supports Businesses During Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged Chicago-area small businesses and nonprofits, CCLF delved into its resolve to support impacted businesses and communities. CCLF became a partner in several public emergency funding initiatives.

Together Now: Chicago’s Fund to Rebuild Our Neighborhoods, a collaboration with the Chicago Community Trust and the city of Chicago, raised monies from the city’s philanthropies, corporations, and individuals to be disbursed to small businesses and nonprofits that experienced damage as a result of social unrest or a loss of revenue due to COVID-19. In total, the fund provided more than $15 million in emergency relief to small business. CCLF disbursed $1.6 million in grants to 411 small businesses and nonprofits.

Business Interruption Grants: The Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program was developed by Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly to provide $580 million in economic relief for small businesses hit hardest by COVID-19. CCLF disbursed $9.5 million in grants to 498 small businesses.

Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund: The City of Chicago recognized that coronavirus disease put a difficult burden on small businesses and nonprofits and created this fund to provide emergency cash flow during the health crisis. Funds were provided to eligible businesses and nonprofits as low-interest loans. CCLF disbursed $766,000 to 20 small businesses and nonprofits and continues providing relief through this program.

CCLF joined community-based partner organizations Accion Serving Illinois and Indiana (rebranded as Allies for Community Business), Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives Micro Finance Group, the Chicago Urban League, SomerCor and Women’s Business Development Center to serve as grant administrator, for the Cook County Recovery Program.  

For its role in the program, CCLF processed 2,383 applications with 558 approved, totaling almost $9 million in awards.  Recipients were gig workers and small businesses grateful for a chance to regroup following unforeseen hardships due to the pandemic.

Additionally, CCLF’s PPP Pop Up Virtual Call Center provided assistance from mid-April through June 30, 2020. This temporary service proved a crucial lifeline for small nonprofits and businesses serving mostly low-income communities, families and individuals in Chicago and surrounding suburbs.

This PPP Call Center offered small nonprofit and business applicants 60 minutes of one-on-one assistance with SBA lending experts plus a connection to PPP lenders serving Chicago enterprises. Consultants assisted participants in reviewing application documents and answering questions before submitting the application with lending institutions. A total of 115 hours of one-on-one consultations was provided to 110 small nonprofits and for-profit organizations. With the help of the Call Center, 26 participants were successful in securing a PPP loan.  Those loans totaled nearly $1 million and averaged $38,333.  CCLF thanks funders: Anonymous Donor, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, Associated Bank and CRF for underwriting the operating costs of the call center.

One such successful client is Polished Pebbles, a nonprofit organization founded in 2009 with the mission of improving communication and offering career exposure to young women ages 7-17 in Illinois, Indiana and Texas. When Polished Pebbles reached out to the call center, they were unsure of the Paycheck Protection Program process. While they were engaged with a local bank, the call center assisted them in understanding the expectations for the program, understanding which documentation would be necessary for forgiveness and the call center offered additional support to their lender, regarding their application and areas for capacity building for Polished Pebbles. The organization received a $65,000 loan.

 CCLF continues to host the Chicagoland COVID-19 Community Resource Guide on its website to help nonprofits, arts and recreational organizations, small-scale real estate firms, social enterprises, worker and food cooperatives, community retailers and other small businesses identify financial resources and additional tools to support their operations across this challenging time. The guide helps navigate the myriad of grants, loans and other resources available from public and private sources and is updated regularly.  CCLF thanks funders: Anonymous Donor, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, Associated Bank and Community Reinvestment Fund.