West Side United Hospitals Come Together to Make Financial Investments in Neighborhoods to Improve Health
Acknowledging the link between economic vitality and health, several hospitals involved in West Side United have partnered to invest money in local businesses and organizations.
First, West Side United hospitals partnered with Accion and Northern Trust to develop a Small Business Accelerator program that dispersed $85,000 in one-time capital grants to seven local small businesses.
Second, West Side United hospitals partnered with Chicago Community Loan Fund (CCLF) and Illinois Facilities Fund (IFF) to loan $1.7 million to new and existing projects in West Side neighborhoods that will increase affordable housing, connect youth to services and build capacity for established community organizations.
“When we asked the community for ideas about how we could start to reduce the 16-year life expectancy gap between the Loop and West Side neighborhoods, one of the most common requests we received was to make investments to increase economic vitality,” said Darlene Hightower, Associate Vice President, Office of Community Engagement and Practice, Rush University Medical Center. “Our neighborhoods have suffered the consequences of disinvestment for decades, and we need to do our part as hospitals to turn that around.”
Business growth is expected to positively affect the neighborhoods at-large, and West Side United ensured that members of the community were engaged throughout both selection processes. Community leaders from West Side United’s Planning Committee helped guide the Small Business Accelerator application, promote the opportunity to their communities and review applications. They also provided their perspective on the anticipated impact of potential investing opportunities on the residents and businesses they represent in the community.
Through the Small Business Accelerator program, small businesses received $1,000 to $15,000 in one-time capital grants as well as business coaching from Accion. The seven businesses selected from 106 applicants were:
- Amazing Edibles Catering
- Social Impact Films
- Sweet Beginnings, LLC
- Telpochcalli Community Education Project
- The Exodus Drum and Bugle Corp
- The Goodie Shop
- The Jumper Store, Inc.
“As our hospitals and partners acknowledge the link between economic vitality and health, we are hoping that this is just the beginning,” said Mary Kate Daly, Executive Director, Lurie Children’s Healthy Communities. “We are eager to engage other partners in the business and philanthropic community in these efforts – to learn from them and work together to increase our collective impact in West Side neighborhoods.”
Learn more about West Side United and its partners in economic vitality at: