Skip to main content

GAGDC Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF) training gives tips for completing the application

Mr. Anderson sharing NOF information

Local Business Owners: Salon owner looking to stay in the community (left); Director StayLIT Youth Services looing for new site location (right)

The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF) receives funds from downtown developments, in order to support improvements of commercial corridors in Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods, including Auburn Gresham. 

The Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation's (GAGDC) Special Service Area (#32 & 69) team program mangaer, Khayeem Anderson was excited to host a training, on February 21, 2019, for southside businesses. The training was designed to give some key tips, to new and current local business owners who are working to complete applications to apply for the The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF). The NOF fund is a Chicago opportunity to provide positive impact along commercial corridors, in Auburn Gresham and other south and west side business corridors. 

Onwers: Plaques, Trophies & Gifts by Perci

Photo: Norma Sanders

A great mix of business owners attended and participated, including those looking to expand a current business and others looking to start a new community-based organization. There was also a technology startup looking for significant space to support local businesses.

The attendees learned and got some good tips from the powerful one hour training. All walked away fulfilled and truly excited about the geniune support we offier at the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation (GAGDC). There was a lot to learn as a business cohort, and by sharing questions and discussing unforseen challenges with new startups, everyone benefited. The discussion continued long after the training session was over. 

A Neighborhood Business Development Center (NBDC) consultation client even came to make sure they understood how additional property they own could take advantage of the build commumnity wealth bonus and other City of Chicago redevelopment funds. 

We are looking forward to assisting businesses with addtional training throughout 2019. Let us know what you need. We are here and especially at your service, in the Auburn Gresham area.

 To find more information on the NOF fund, see or below for details on NOF fund requirements. 

Business and property owners may apply for NOF grant funding that will pay for the development or rehabilitation of real estate and projects that support new or expanding businesses or cultural assets. 

The one-time grants, which the business owner does not need to pay back, kick-start and support a variety of activities, including new retail, grocery stores, and cultural establishments, and help maintain existing ones. 

Grant applications are accepted during open application windows.

  NOF Small Projects NOF Large Projects
Award Amounts Up to $250,000 More than $250,000
Application Start Date January 11, 2019 Rolling applications
Application End Date March 5, 2019 @ 4 P.M. CST Rolling applications

Business owners looking to expand along one of Auburn Gresham's business cooridor


Who Can Apply?

Applicants requesting up to $250,000

NOF Small projects (needing grants up to $250,000) must be located in an Eligible Commercial Corridor, so that projects can be concentrated and have a bigger collective impact. Although not required, projects may also be located within a Priority Investment Corridor (where complementary businesses are located) and will receive extra weight during the review process.

Applications Requesting more than $250,000

NOF Large projects (needing grants over $250,000) with a special neighborhood impact may be considered outside of the Eligible Commercial Corridors.   Larger projects are required to obtain City Council approval, as well as have a full Redevelopment Agreement governing the terms of a larger grant.  Additionally, larger projects are subject to the City’s construction compliance requirements, which include MBE /WBE, Local Hiring and Prevailing Wage (as established by the Illinois Department of Labor).

Construction of project may not begin prior to a grant being awarded.  Any applicants that choose to begin construction on their project prior to receiving a grant award do so at their own risk.

We encourage you to contact us with questions about larger projects in advance of submitting your application.

What Can Be Funded?

For all Neighborhood Opportunity Fund projects, costs that can be funded by grants must generally be related to new construction or the rehabilitation of existing buildings. This includes:

  Land acquisition and assembly
  Building acquisition, demolition and environmental remediation
  Security measures
  Roofing, façade repair and mechanical system repairs
  Architectural and engineering fees
  Financing fees (related to securing a loan or other capital)
  Minor site improvements, such as fencing or planters, when a part of an eligible project
  Other soft costs associated with eligible hard costs

What Cannot Be Funded?

Projects that receive Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grants must have a catalytic impact on the neighborhood and lead to the development of new commercial spaces or cultural establishments. As a result, the following costs are not eligible for Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grants:

  Residential dwelling units or the residential portion of a mixed-use building
  Minor repairs and improvements, such as painting
  Repairs or improvements that are required to bring a building into compliance with the City of Chicago’s Building Code
  Support programs or services
  Operating expenses
  Travel expenses or any lodging/hotel expenses

Additionally, any work that is begun before a conditional commitment letter is issued by the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development is not eligible for grant funds. Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grants cannot be retroactively awarded for projects completed outside of the formal grant process.

How Much Funding Is Available?

The total amount of Neighborhood Opportunity Fund assistance available to your project depends, in large part, on where your project is located. Depending on that location, there are two types of grants available:

  • Assistance for project requesting up to $250,000
  • Assistance for projects requesting greater than $250,000

Projects that are located on an Eligible Commercial Corridor are eligible to apply for both grant types. Projects that are located outside of an Eligible Commercial Corridor are only eligible to receive grants larger than $250,000 in assistance.

In all cases, projects that undertake the construction of new buildings are eligible to receive up to 30% of the total project cost, while projects that rehabilitate existing buildings may receive up to 50% of the project’s total cost. Those percentages, however, are eligible to be increased by up to 15 percent if you qualify for the Build Community Wealth Bonus.

What Is the Build Community Wealth Bonus?

One of the critical goals of the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund program is to develop sustainable neighborhood growth by building community-based wealth. Supporting locally-based business and property owners will ensure these investments in our neighborhoods remain in our neighborhoods, helping to catalyze new businesses and new employment opportunities.

In order to support projects that advance that goal, the Build Community Wealth Bonus provides eligible projects with additional support. There are two ways an applicant can benefit from the Build Community Wealth Bonus:

    • Option One: If you maintain your primary residency in a Neighborhood Opportunity Fund eligible area, the Build Community Wealth Bonus is applied by increasing the percentage of financial assistance by up to 15 percent. This raises the maximum percentage of assistance from 50 to 65 percent for rehabilitation projects and from 30 to 45 percent for new construction projects.
  • Option Two: If you will hire new employees that maintain their primary residency in a Neighborhood Opportunity Fund eligible area, the Build Community Wealth Bonus provides up to 15 percent of your total eligible project costs as a reimbursement for wage expenses or training costs. To qualify for this benefit, after the completion of your project you must hire at least two new, full-time employees.

It is important to note that applicants may apply for only Option One or Option Two above. In the event that you qualify for both, you’ll need to choose which provides the most benefit for your project.

Use the map below to see if your primary residence is eligible for the Build Community Wealth Bonus.

How Projects Are Selected

Applications will be prioritized using four key factors, all with the goal of providing catalytic impact to a community or commercial corridor:

  • The gap the project fills—what services or goods are provided that are lacking, how it makes a difference in building a stronger neighborhood.
  • How the project builds community wealth, how communities benefit from the project, and the extent to which local entrepreneurs, property owners, and residents are included.
  • How the project defines and measures success.
  • Whether the project is feasible and has a clear and ready path to implementation.

The Department of Planning and Development will review all applications and submit them to an Advisory Committee made up of community leaders representing a cross-section of City neighborhoods. That Advisory Committee will then submit a funding recommendation to the City for final selection. The Advisory Committee’s current members are:

  • Craig Chico, Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council
  • Ed Coleman, Bethel New Life
  • Angela Hurlock, Claretian Associates
  • Rafael Leon, Chicago Metropolitan Community Housing Development Corporation
  • Maxine Mitchell, Applied Real Estate Analysis, Inc.
  • Carlos Nelson, Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation
  • Julio Rodriguez
  • Rev. Dr. Richard Tolliver, St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church

Projects receiving more than $250,000 in assistance will go through a Redevelopment Agreement process with the City’s Department of Planning and Development that requires approval by Chicago's City Council.

Program Overview Presentation

 Download our Program Overview Presentation (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my property is eligible for the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund program?

Applicants requesting grants up to $250,000 must be located on an Eligible Commercial Corridor or Priority Investment Corridor. Applicants requesting grants greater than $250,000 may be located outside of an Eligible Commercial Corridor or Priority Investment Corridor, but those projects must be approved by City Council.

You can use the map on the Apply page to determine if your property is located in one of these eligible areas.

What are Eligible Commercial Corridors and Priority Investment Corridors?

Eligible Commercial Corridors are public streets that generally allow for retail or commercial uses based on the underlying zoning.

Priority Investment Corridors have the same characteristics as an Eligible Commercial Corridor, but also have a greater amount of retail or commercial activity. This activity is based on higher concentration of active business licenses, high rates of vehicular traffic, high ridership bus routes, or is otherwise a significant existing or established commercial corridor.

Is my mixed-use property eligible for Neighborhood Opportunity Fund assistance?

Yes, but only for the commercial spaces. Any build-out or improvement of residential spaces is considered an ineligible project cost.

What if my property has building code violations?

You are still eligible to apply for a grant, but any repairs or improvements that are ordered by the Circuit Court to remedy documented citations of the City of Chicago’s Building Code are not eligible for Neighborhood Opportunity Fund assistance. Additionally, any funds used to remedy the Building Code violations may not be applied towards the total eligible project costs.

How long will the selection process take once the application window closes?

The selection process will take approximately two to three months from the application deadline.

Contact Us

Do you have any questions regarding a Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grant? Do you need assistance applying? We're here to help!

For more information, contact us at, or sign up for email updates.

Keywords: Auburn Gresham, Build on 79th Street, Build on Ashland, Commercial Property, Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, NOF

Posted in Auburn Gresham in the News, Business, Housing, Economic Development, Community Highlights


To foster and promote revitalization of the community by designing and implementing programs that improve the community’s economic viability; increase availability of quality housing to people of different income levels, while maintaining and improving existing affordable housing; and enhance delivery of social services, particularly to senior citizens.

Learn more about us »

Support us

Improve and enhance the delivery of community and economic development in Auburn Gresham, Englewood, and West Chatham.

Make a donation