NBC Chicago, Telemundo Chicago, NBC Sports Chicago, and the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation has announced that eight local nonprofits will receive a total of $315,000 in Project Innovations 2022 grants. The winning organizations feature programs that are addressing local community issues through innovative solutions in the areas of community engagement, culture of inclusion, next generation storytelling and youth education and empowerment.
This is the fifth consecutive year that NBC Chicago, Telemundo Chicago, and the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation have awarded Project Innovation grants to nonprofits in the local area. Grant applications opened February 18 and closed on March 25. To select grant winners, the stations created and gathered community panels to review grant applications and select the final winners. Since 2018, NBC Chicago, Telemundo Chicago and the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation have presented more than $1.3 million dollars in Project Innovation grants to 31 of nonprofits in the Chicago area.
“We are thrilled to join the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation in awarding these deserving organizations with needed funding to push their innovative projects forward. We are thankful for them and for the thousands of organizations in the Chicago area making a difference daily,” said Kevin Cross, NBCU Local Chicago President & General Manager.
Local Project Innovation 2022 grant recipients include:
A Just Harvest - $50,000
A Just Harvest’s programs such as the Rogers Park Community Kitchen aims to solve food insecurity and poverty. The Rogers Park neighborhood program provides a “No Boarders Food Pantry” with grocery pickup for home-bound residents. With the grant winnings, AJH will reopen their dining area to welcome patrons for free, daily community meals and fellowship. Volunteers will reengage in one of the organization’s multiple green spaces and gardens. AJH is welcoming community members to share their gifts with one another to build a strong community.
Above & Beyond Food Pantry - $55,000
Above & Beyond Food Pantry’s North Lawndale/Garfield Park Resource program is geared towards helping residents who are generally self-sufficient but lack access to a grocery store in their immediate area. The program sets up space as an on-site grocery store and provides counsel to clients who are unhoused, actively using drugs, unemployed, or recently released from incarceration. Above & Beyond Food Pantry is committed to addressing immediate hunger needs and challenging life situations with compassionate case management and needed resources for success.
Aspire of Illinois - $50,000
Aspire's Community Employment program provides customized, supportive employment services for people with disabilities. The program provides resume development, mock interviews, workplace communication training and more. The goal of the program is to address the high unemployment rate among people with disabilities and create more inclusive workplaces where people with disabilities are recognized, represented, and valued.
CHAT – Life Changing Speech Therapy - $15,000
CHAT’s Executive Function (EF) program takes an innovative, language-based approach to address commonly seen difficulties in children with specific learning disabilities. The EF program strengthens brain-based skills fundamental for academic, professional, and personal success such as time management, goal setting and organization. The grant money will help the organization expand its services in Chicago’s Little Village community.
Chicago Baseball & Education Academy - $15,000
The Chicago Baseball & Education Academy’s Community Partner program welcomes neighborhood organizations to use professional level baseball facilities at the University of Illinois Chicago at no charge. Often, these youth baseball organizations have no safe place to play in the summer or have poorly maintained facilities. In the winter they provide indoor facilities which are nonexistent to most of Chicago. In addition, they offer customized programming such as college tours, mentoring, sports nights, and more. The Project Innovation Grant Challenge money will expand the Community Partner program to more organizations and children.
Chicago Commons Association – $50,000
The Pathways for Parents program offers personalized support to low-income, unemployed, or underemployed parents to pursue a career in early childhood education. Eligible parents have children enrolled at one of the organization’s four early childhood education centers or delegate agencies and have completed a high school diploma but typically have few if any college credits. Most speak English as a second language. The program is designed to remove obstacles that these parents face in furthering their education and securing better employment. It also meets an acute need for bilingual early childhood educators in the community.
The Pathway to Enterprise for Returning Citizens (PERC) program addresses the systemic issues of mass incarceration and recidivism in predominately low-income communities on Chicago’s south and west sides through entrepreneurship. Based on key learnings over the past several years, the program has been expanded with two options to serve clients. The ‘On the Runway’ track is recommended to those returning citizens that are exploring entrepreneurship but may have multiple business ideas and need an environment to explore the viability of each. The ‘Ready to Launch’ track is recommended for those returning citizens that have determined a viable business and business model and are ready to take the next necessary steps to start that business.
College Bound Opportunities - $30,000
College Bound Opportunities’ College Access and Persistence Program is a 6-year program supporting low-income students in Lake County, IL with academic tutoring, financial aid, scholarship application assistance, mentoring, and more. The grant money will help expand staffing to support more students as they peruse the dream of a college education.
Project Innovation 2022 grants were presented to eligible nonprofits in 11 participating markets including New York (WNBC, WNJU), Southern California (KNBC, KVEA), Chicago (WMAQ, WSNS), Philadelphia (WCAU, WWSI), Dallas-Fort Worth (KXAS, KXTX), Boston (WBTS, WNEU, NECN), Hartford, CT (WVIT, WRDM), Washington, D.C. (WRC-TV, WZDC), Miami-Fort Lauderdale (WTVJ, WSCV), San Francisco Bay Area (KNTV, KSTS), and San Diego (KNSD, KUAN).