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Evanston, NU announce $1 million for minority businesses and guaranteed-income pilot.

Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty and Northwestern President Morton Schapiro announced in a news release today that the first-ever $1 million allocation of the Northwestern Neighbor Racial Equity Fund "will support a variety of bold, progressive programs aimed at strengthening underserved communities and advancing racial equity in Evanston."

This is the sixth year that Northwestern has contributed $1 million to the City of Evanston to support projects jointly agreed upon by the mayor of Evanston and the president of Northwestern, and the first year where the funds will be focused entirely on dismantling systemic barriers faced by historically marginalized communities.

“For the past five years, Northwestern and the City of Evanston have enjoyed a wonderful partnership that has improved the quality of life for so many,” President Schapiro said. “This year, we believe it’s crucial to focus on addressing historic social and racial injustices and their ongoing effects on our community. I believe this is how we can all make our greatest impact for the long-term health of our city.”

The 2021 initiatives funded by Northwestern’s $1 million contribution include support for minority entrepreneurs, arts organizations, undocumented residents, and socially isolated older adults, as well as funding to operationalize equity and improve language access within City government.

Also, there is seed money for a guaranteed-income pilot program providing direct financial assistance to a limited number of low-income households.

“These innovative, exciting programs will help lift up our entire city by tearing down systemic barriers faced by historically marginalized communities, and they will build on the city’s existing efforts to advance racial equity as we look to forge a strong and equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Hagerty said.

Mayor Hagerty and President Schapiro agreed to the following funding allocation: -- Minority Business Incubator, $400,000 - Funding will support a collaboration between the City of Evanston, Northwestern and various Evanston business associations to provide minority entrepreneurs with access to programming, networking and capital.

-- Guaranteed Income Pilot Program, $300,000 - Also referred to as Universal Basic Income, this pilot program will offer monthly cash payments to low-income Evanston households to supplement the existing social safety net.

-- Operationalizing Racial Equity within the City, $100,000 - Funding will support consulting services to strengthen the equitable delivery of City services to the community.

-- Building Community Resiliency through the Arts, $50,000 - Funding will mobilize artists and cultural and social service organizations to improve the quality of life and amplify voices in underserved communities.

-- Language Access Program, $50,000 - Funding will help the City fill language accessibility gaps, provide staff training and translate vital documents.

-- Reducing Social Isolation for Older Adults Pilot Program, $50,000 - Funding will support the launch of a new City program providing in-home technology solutions to at-risk, older adult populations to reduce isolation and connect with health and wellness programming.

-- Community Member Relief Fund, $50,000 - Funding will supplement the City’s fund designated for Evanston residents who do not qualify for general assistance or emergency assistance due to their legal status. The Community Member Relief Fund was first established by the Evanston City Council in 2020. In addition to the 2021 Northwestern Good Neighbor Racial Equity Fund, Northwestern announced last year that it would increase its commitment to Evanston and Chicago by creating a new Racial Equity and Community Partnership Grant program supported by an additional $500,000.

This pilot program, administered by the University’s Office of Neighborhood and Community Relations, will award grants to partnerships between community-based nonprofits or groups in Evanston and Chicago, and Northwestern faculty, students or staff. Northwestern is in the process of reviewing grant applications for the pilot.

These programs are part of the commitment President Schapiro and Northwestern leaders announced to allocate $1.5 million in the fiscal year starting Sept. 1, 2020, to Evanston and Chicago to advance social justice and racial equity.


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