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October 2021 – City of Chicago Program to Support Small Businesses and Nonprofits

October 2021 – City of Chicago Program to Support Small Businesses and Nonprofits

Dear Chicagoan,

I am reaching out to inform you of the latest City of Chicago program to support small businesses and nonprofits. Announced today, the Chi Biz Strong Grants Program and Outdoor Dining Grants Program will provide over $20 million in grants to Chicago’s small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

The Chi Biz Strong Grant Program will provide grants of $5,000 or $10,000, based on annual revenue, to small business and nonprofit organizations throughout Chicago that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 from lost revenue or increased costs.

To help bars and restaurants, the City of Chicago also launched the Outdoor Dining Grant Program targeted towards Chicago’s restaurants and bars that continue to face significant challenges due to COVID and need assistance with the purchase of outdoor furniture, pandemic-related signage and personal protective equipment. This program will provide grants of $5,000 to eligible businesses.

Applications are available now and will be open until Friday, November 12, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Grants will be disbursed via a lottery and based on eligibility and prioritization criteria. 

The City of Chicago will host informational webinars on the following dates to assist applicants in preparing their application:  

Register for a webinar by clicking on the above date of the webinar or visit The webinars will be recorded and available for later viewing at

You can find details on the grants below. To apply and learn more, please visit To streamline the process for applicants, the Chi Biz Strong Grants and Outdoor Dining Grant Program will be available through a single application.

For-profit business criteria:

  • Small businesses (under $3M in revenue)
  • 50% of funding will be prioritized for businesses in Low and Moderate Income (LMI) communities and 50% to other geographies
  • Excludes certain business types, such as junk yards and pawn shops
  • Businesses that have not received prior State, Federal or local government aid or financial relief will be prioritized
  • Small chains and franchises are eligible below a certain size; see FAQ for details

Required Documents (For-Profit Businesses)

  • Business Owner Valid ID (driver’s license, State ID, Passport, Consular Registration Card)
  • City/State business license with Chicago business address OR other proof of Chicago address (e.g. business bank statement or tax statement with business name and Chicago address). For Outdoor Dining Grant Program, City business license is required.
  • 2020 Federal Business Tax Return all pages (Form 1120, 1065, 990 OR Form 1040 w/ Schedule C)
  • Most recent business bank statement
  • W9 Form

Non-profit organization criteria:

  • Tax-exempt 501(c)3 organizations
  • Small organizations (under $3M in revenue), with at least 25% of funds prioritized for organizations under $1M in revenue
  • 80% of funding will be prioritized for organizations with physical location and services provided in Low and Moderate Income (LMI) communities and 20% to other geographies
  • Organizations that are not active Delegate Agencies of the City will be prioritized
  • Organizations that have not received prior State, Federal or local government aid or financial relief will be prioritized
  • Organizations must be in Good Standing with the Illinois Secretary of State
  • 501(c)3 places of worship are not eligible, unless you provide public community programs

Required Documents (Nonprofits)

  • Nonprofit representative Valid ID (driver’s license, State ID, Passport, Consular Registration Card)
  • 2020 Federal Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990 or 990EZ)
  • Proof of Chicago address for the physical location of services (e.g. business bank statement or tax return with organization name and Chicago address) or your headquarters/administrative offices (if you only have one location)
  • Most recent business bank statement
  • W9 Form


  • 10/22: Grant application is available
  • 11/12: Grant application closes at 12:59 p.m. CDT
  • December: Grant recipients are chosen via lottery and notified of their acceptance


The Chi Biz Strong Grant is funded under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). The Outdoor Dining Grant Program is funded under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) CARES Act and CRF. The programs are administered by BACP with support from Allies for Community Business, which will also assist organizations that would like help completing the application.

These grant programs build on the success of over $100 million in City pandemic relief funding for businesses across Chicago’s neighborhoods and central business district —the largest amount of relief funding provided by any US city. These grant programs will help promote an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by providing critical financial relief to small businesses and nonprofits across the city in both the neighborhoods and the downtown area.

I want to thank all of you for your perseverance as we shift our focus to recovery. Your City government will continue to fight for our small businesses and we will continue providing information and resources to during our road to recovery.


Kenneth J. Meyer BACP Acting Commissioner 

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