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Black Incubator and Accelerator (BIA) program to offer support for Black-led organizations
by Kayleigh Padar
2021-10-12

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A new program—Black Incubator and Accelerator (BIA)—is offering funding and resources to Black-led organizations that primarily serve Black communities on the South and West Sides.

BIA is new this year and run by University of Chicago's Office of Civic Engagement, in partnership with Chicago Center for HIV Elimination, according to an Oct. 8 BIA informational meeting.

The 12-month program supports and cultivates local leadership for Black-led organizations dedicated to reducing new HIV/AIDS transmissions and providing support services—such as housing, food or mental health care—to people living with HIV/AIDS.

"There's been a historic disinvestment in Black-led organizations, especially on the South and West Sides, and these are the areas hardest hit by HIV and other issues that make it harder to take care of yourself," said Russell Brewer, project lead and a faculty member at University of Chicago.

By "nurturing a healthy ecosystem of organizations serving people of color on the South and West sides," BIA ultimately aims to better HIV/AIDS health outcomes in the city.

"We know that Black-led organizations are agents of change that will be critical to [both] getting us closer to 0 new HIV/AIDS infections in Chicago and improving the health of the areas that are most impacted by HIV/AIDS in Chicago," Brewer said.

This year, BIA is accepting applications from organizations that fall into its "incubator category" with the plan to invite "accelerator" organizations to apply next year.

All organizations that apply will have access to networking events, access to office spaces and monthly training. The three incubator organizations that are selected will also receive $10,000 for professional development and hands-on support with finding sponsors and applying for 501(c)(3) status.

Incubator organizations are organizations that have received less than $250,000 of funding and are still in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status. Accelerator organizations have received at least $250,000 of funding and already have 501(c)(3) status. If an organization has 501(c)(3) status but hasn't raised $250,000, it still qualifies as an incubator.

The motivating idea behind the concept, officials said, is that incubator organizations might become accelerator organizations after one year in the program and could reapply for a second year for continued support with communications, funding and board development.

Organizations that are already accelerators will also be able to apply next year. For now, those organizations can still access the networking events, professional development workshops and office space, as well as free access to a certificate in Non-Profit Management through a course provided by the University of Chicago's Crown Family School of Social Work, Family and Practice.

"We know that Black leaders have ideas, drive, passion and the knowledge of their communities to make a difference, however, many lack the support, resources and connections to grow and thrive," Brewer said. "The BIA program will focus on providing that over the next three years."

Applications for BIA started being available Oct. 13; the deadline is Nov. 5. Interviews will take place in mid-November and the selected organizations will be notified Dec. 1.

For more information and to sign up to be notified when the application launches, visit https://communityprograms.uchicago.edu/.


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