Community First® Capacity-Building Grant Program

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​The FHLBC’s new Community First Capacity-Building Grant Program fills a gap in funding for nonprofit lenders, providing them with operational support that can otherwise be hard to find, giving them the opportunity to expand their capacity, and increasing their impact on community development and affordable housing in Illinois and Wisconsin. Through our member institutions, we offer grants of $10,000 to $100,000 to help qualifying nonprofit community development loans funds and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) build their financial, operational, and human capital.


Applications will be accepted April 3 through May 5, and this year’s award recipients will be announced in August.


 

Building Partnerships

To be considered for a Community First Capacity-Building Grant, an organization must apply through a local FHLBC member financial institution (a list of members is available here​) and the program application is here. For applicants, this is an opportunity to create or build on partnerships with member financial institutions in their area. For members, it’s a chance to increase their support of nonprofit lending institutions working in their communities.


 Strengthening Organizations

Nonprofit lending institutions may apply for Community First Capacity-Building Grants to expand their operational capacity, to develop new products for their borrowers, or to pay for certain operational expenses. Examples of eligible uses include:

  • Market research to expand existing programs
  • Professional development of staff
  • Creation or expansion of a strategic plan for the organization
  • Improvement of lending policies and procedures
  • Enhancements to management and information systems
  • Improvements to lending portfolio and financial reporting
  • Development of mission-related outcomes reporting


 

How the Program Works

Application and Review: Applications will be accepted April 3 through May 5. Each organization will work with an FHLBC member institution to submit the application. A list of members is available here, and the program application is here. Following initial review, the FHLBC will request additional information from qualified applicants. Award recipients will be announced in August.


Criteria: Non-depository community development financial institutions (CDFIs), community development loan funds (CDFLs), and community development corporations (CDCs) with a footprint in the FHLBC’s district of Illinois and Wisconsin will be considered. Applications will be evaluated based on:

  • How well the organization’s mission aligns with the grant program
  • The organization’s strategy to increase community development lending within the FHLBC’s district 
  • The strength of the organization
  • The proposed use of the grant funds
  • The organization’s plan for reporting on the outcomes of its use of the grant funds over a two-year period


Grants will range from $10,000 to $100,000. The size of each grant will depend on:

  • The organization’s mission, capacity, and geographic scope
  • The requested amount
  • The strength of the organization’s proposal for how the grant will be used


Disbursement and Terms of Funding: The grant will be provided to the member institution, which will disburse the proceeds to the recipient. Grants do not need to be repaid, but recipients will be required to submit annual reports on outcomes from their use of grant funds for two fiscal years after receipt of the award. Grant recipients may not apply for another Community First Capacity-Building Grant for two consecutive years after the initial award date.

Questions: Please contact Brigitte Wilson at (312) 552-2696 or bwilson@fhlbc.com ​with any questions.