Classes are January 9th - May 31, 2018 | Tuesdays & Thursdays | 9am - 11am


In 2016, Mayor Rahm Emanuel implemented reforms to the City’s Zoning Code in order to ensure that the growth of downtown drives equitable development throughout the City. These changes leverage new development in and around the Loop to generate funds that will catalyze investment in Chicago’s West, Southwest and South Sides. The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund receives funds from that downtown development in order to support commercial corridors in Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods. Business and property owners may apply for grant funding that will pay for the development or rehabilitation of real estate and projects that support new or expanding businesses or cultural assets.
Grant applications are accepted twice a year during the open application window.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel has released a second round of grants to strengthen the commercial corridors on Chicago’s South, Southwest, and West Sides. Far South CDC is focused on helping our business owners in these corridors build quality applications to increase their chances of winning grants.

Courses take place at our office: 9923 S Halsted St. Suite D. Chicago, IL 60628


Our team at Far South gives applicants for the NOF program a holistic approach with ongoing technical assistance and support for their application, project development, and business operations. We are committed to providing quality training and coaching to help you understand your business needs and communicate them to better your chances of getting grant funds.
We have three different programs for business owners interested in getting assistance for the NOF Grant.

Our Programs

NOF Courses
  • Finding The Right Property
  • Construction/Budget/Contractors
  • Financing Your Project
  • City Application Process, Vouchering, and Marketing
NOF Information Sessions
  • Conducted in small groups, we give you general information about the program and how to apply and instructions for next steps.
NOF One-on-one Consultations
  • Assistance with the development of business plans.
  • Help with accessing market information and the development of marketing plans.
  • Assistance with accessing business financing programs.
  • Assistance with financial analysis and planning.
  • Access to business education and training opportunities.

Who Can Apply?

To apply for our program, you must:
  • Reside in NOF designated priority areas
  • Be clear of any pending lawsuits or liens from the City, County, or State;
  • Submit prior year business tax returns and, if applicable, annual business financial statements
    (if the business requires a special permit, you must supply a special permit)

Eligible applicants must be business or property owners or entities that are engaged in the sale of commercial goods or services. Projects that provide cultural experiences to the general public are also eligible.

Examples of Eligible Commercial Projects Examples of Eligible Cultural Projects
Grocery stores Theaters
Restaurants Music venues
Retail Art Galleries

Applicants requesting less than $250,000 in assistance 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. Larger projects (needing grants over $250,000) with a special neighborhood impact may be considered outside of the Eligible Commercial Corridors, but those projects must be approved by the City Council. We encourage you to contact us with questions about larger projects in advance, but the application is the same.

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

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, Little Village Chamber of Commerce
  • 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.


For more information, please contact our office at (773) 941-4833 or email at


Download then email, mail, or drop off your application.


Apply here and we automatically receive your responses.

NOF Grant Course Application
Apply here for one of our programs. Please note, this is not the City of Chicago's Application for funding. You are applying to become part of our program to assist you in receiving those funds.
Business Information
Business Type

Describe proposed project. Check all that apply.


By submitting this application, you hereby agree that all the above information and all attachments to this application are true to the best of your knowledge.