Contact Information

600 W Van Buren St
Ste 510
Chicago, IL 60607 - 3706
(312) 674-7090
FY 2016 Social Innovation Fund Classic

Executive Summary

A Better Chicago (ABC) is a nonprofit grantmaking institution located in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 2010, ABC's mission is to empower high-performing nonprofits that are dramatically improving educational opportunities for low-income Chicagoans.


ABC is applying as an issue-based Social Innovation Fund focused on youth development. Subrecipients will be located in the Chicago Metropolitan Region, which comprises Cook County (including City of Chicago), DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, McHenry County and Will County, Illinois.


ABC respectfully requests a grant amount of $2 million over one year from CNCS. We will allocate 90% of our $2 million request directly to subrecipients and 10% to subrecipient evaluation support. ABC's direct and indirect costs are fully covered by our board of directors and will not be billed to this grant. We will provide a 1: 1 match provided by our own resources. This cash-on-hand has been raised from a variety of private donors, as detailed in our Social Innovation Fund additional documents. We are also committed to supporting our subrecipients to meet their match requirements.



ABC's theory of change includes a four-pronged approach to growing subrecipient impact. We believe that by 1) investing significant growth capital, 2) serving as a strategic advisor of subrecipients, 3) providing high-quality, customized technical assistance and 4) continually evaluating and learning from the portfolio, our grantees will scale to serve more low-income youth, strengthen their outcomes and put thousands more students on paths to college and career success.


ABC will seek out innovative and effective models that will significantly improve student achievement along the kindergarten through college continuum. Applicants will participate in an open application process, and finalists will be invited into our intensive due diligence process. Our SIF objective (in year one) will be to select and support six to eight promising subrecipient organizations with track records of demonstrated effectiveness and capacity to scale. Subrecipients will receive growth capital and customized technical assistance in areas such as business planning, human capital development and evaluation. We will help these subrecipients further strengthen their evidence, build their organizational capacity, and reach significantly larger numbers of youth in the Chicago Metropolitan Region.


ABC was founded in 2010 with the mission to dramatically improve educational opportunities for low-income Chicagoans by investing in the most effective nonprofit organizations in the Chicago Metropolitan Region. Since then, ABC has constructed a portfolio of 13 high-performing organizations that serve over 30,000 low-income youth. We have raised over $20 million from a donor base of over 700 individuals, families and companies, many of whom are new to supporting educational causes, or are new to philanthropy entirely. Finally, we have built a strong staff, board of directors and leadership council. Our board and leadership council underwrite all of our operating expenses so that every dollar we raise, including SIF funds and matching grants, goes directly to our portfolio in the form of grants and technical assistance.

In 2015, ABC launched a ten-year strategic plan to dramatically improve educational outcomes for low-income youth in the Chicago Metropolitan Region. The investment priorities and evaluation goals of the Social Innovation Grant are directly aligned with this strategic plan.

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