Coleman Foundation Building Momentum

2022 Annual Report

Reflections On 2022

A Letter from Board Chair Esther Barron

As we look back on the activities and accomplishments of The Coleman Foundation, I am proud to report that 2022 was another fantastic year. The Foundation continued to make a meaningful impact over a broad spectrum of philanthropic areas by providing nearly $10 million in grants to 168 organizations in fields including Entrepreneurship, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), and Health and Rehabilitation.


As the landscape of philanthropic giving shifts and evolves, we reaffirm our commitment to support organizations aligned with our mission. We continue to be inspired by our grantees who are working to revive programs which were put on hold due to the pandemic and to also launch new initiatives to meet new challenges.


Internally, we implemented our strategic plan, reviewing our organizational practices and culture as they relate to our mission and values. As outlined in the letter from our President and CEO Shelley Davis, we worked to deepen our relationships in the community and further our understanding of the impact of our grants. The staff and Board also participated in our first organization-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion educational session to encourage all of us to practice introspection, better awareness and empathy and to commit to ongoing DEI training.


On behalf of our dedicated Board and staff, I offer my sincere gratitude to our grantees, community partners and philanthropic peers for their important work and dedication to serve our greater Chicago community.

A Letter from President and CEO Shelley Davis

Dear Friends and Colleagues,


As we settle into this new year, it is my privilege to share with you the Coleman Foundation's 2022 Annual Report, Building Momentum. Our team spent January reflecting on what we've accomplished over the past year, including welcoming two new program officers, Nathan Stevens and Jennifer Oh, who have infused fresh energy into Coleman's mission. We also implemented year one of our three-pronged strategic plan, which directs us to (1) evaluate our current grantmaking practices, (2) set a learning agenda for each of our program areas, and (3) reset Coleman Foundation culture and who we are as philanthropic citizens. What follows is an update of where we are in each of those three directives.  


1. Evaluating Our Current Grantmaking Practices

We pursued training in the tenets of trust-based philanthropy and revised our due diligence process so that we are consistent, active learners in the fields that we support. To demonstrate our commitment to transparency about the stewardship of our resources, we instituted a cadence of quarterly newsletters highlighting stories from the grantee community. We also articulated and published our values:  


        • Respect for Community: We trust and build relationships with grantee partners and community experts to ensure their knowledge and experiences guide our work. 
        • Empathy: We are committed to understanding the experiences and perspectives of the people and communities that we serve. 
        • Responsiveness: We foster a culture of learning, adaptivity, and innovation to be sure we take advantage of opportunities to create positive impacts as they arise.
        • Responsible Stewardship: We manage the Foundation's resources in a steady, transparent, and responsible manner. 


2. Setting Our Learning Agenda

We instituted a specific learning agenda for each of our program areas, demonstrating our commitment to authentic partnership with our community. We developed a practice of in-person and virtual site visits attended by staff and Board where grantees provided context about their programs, strategies and challenges to realizing their missions.  We also invited community leaders into our board meetings for Mission Moments, during which we heard directly from experts in the field. Finally, we convened our grantees to support peer learning, provide opportunities for networking and professional development and encourage smooth leadership transitions across all of our program areas. These approaches helped center our work around our grantees' priorities, enabling us to better leverage our resources in response to their needs. By listening closely to our grantee partners, we are assured that our learning agenda is grounded in facts.



Since 2017, The Coleman Foundation has been investing in the economic ecosystem of Chicago by funding Business Support Organizations (BSOs) that provide education and services to entrepreneurs living in low and moderate income neighborhoods. According to the Small Business Administration, 70% of small businesses who take advantage of these resources survive more than five years in operation-that's double the amount of those who do not have access to these services.


We began our inquiry by asking: How do BSOs working in low and moderate income communities define success? We learned that these entrepreneurs are contributing to local economies, creating jobs for their neighbors, stabilizing commercial corridors, mitigating violence and reinvesting in economic development. However, we know that entrepreneurs still face barriers to accessing capital to establish and grow their businesses, as evidenced by the Federal Reserve 2021 report that bank consolidation and the increase of costly alternative financial services have reduced the number of affordable credit providers for businesses in these neighborhoods. 


Health and Rehabilitation

We remain committed to the work that the Coleman Supportive Oncology Collaborative (CSOC) has pioneered over the past decade to support cancer patients and their families. The CSOC engages hundreds of health professionals from multidisciplinary teams to create, improve and distribute resources for cancer providers, patients and caregivers. In 2022, we convened our CSOC partners to share lessons learned from the Collaborative, which will be codified in a 2023 report. Also in 2022, the hosting of the CSOC website was transferred to our grantee partner Equal Hope, where it will continue to evolve. 


Our learning agenda in Health and Rehabilitation is focused on deepening our understanding of health equity beyond the sobering and unacceptable statistics, which can seem overwhelming. For example, the life expectancies of individuals living on the South and West Side are 69 years and 72 years, respectively, compared to 85 years for residents of downtown Chicago -- resulting in a death gap of 13 to 16 years.  Our outrage that the destiny of our fellow Chicagoans is dictated by their zip code compelled us to ask hard questions about the causes and effects of systemic inequity in healthcare. 


We sought opportunities to increase access to health services and information in historically underserved communities who have experienced significant hospital closures. To this end, we continued investments in community health workers, who we know extend the capacity of medical providers as trusted messengers, educating patients and helping to break down barriers to accessing quality care. We supported health collaboratives on the South and West Side, which are new efforts seeking to provide the services that everyone needs to be healthy.


Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)

Case for Inclusion ranked Illinois 44th of 50 states in services and support for Americans with disabilities in 2019, revealing significant challenges that we need to address. We couldn't turn on the news in 2022 without hearing about staffing shortages in all industries, and IDD was no exception. According to the National Core Indicators Staff Stability Survey, the turnover rate for direct service staff in Illinois was 44%, which is consistent with the U.S. average in 2020 that underscores the nationwide staffing crisis.


What we learned from our IDD partners called us to seek opportunities to model systemwide solutions, support innovations in care, and reduce barriers to access of IDD services. We invited grantees to collaborate with us over multiple years and developed new relationships in the IDD community. We are also excited that the state has made a commitment to increase its investments in disability services in 2023.  


Moving on, our learning agenda in all three areas will guide us as we investigate how and where Coleman's resources are best invested, and question whether we are funding the most appropriate strategies with the most effective timing, in the communities of highest need. We pledge to move forward with deep listening and responsiveness, grounded in mutual respect with our community partners.


3. Resetting Our Coleman Culture

The past two years were marked by bittersweet transitions as staff entered retirement, moved across the country to be closer to family or left to pursue the next chapter in their career. We hired two program officers in 2022 and will soon announce the addition of our new grants manager. Each member of our team informs our work by bringing their varied and unique backgrounds, experience, community relationships and perspectives which reflect the multi-faceted diversity of Chicago. Fueled by an organizational commitment to training and professional development, we have created an environment where we support, challenge and energize one another.


We also increased our engagement in the philanthropic community. We met with peer organizations to learn about their process of setting spending policies, their strategic plan implementation and how their board works with staff to develop positive organizational cultures. We are grateful to our colleagues who generously shared their wisdom and insight on these topics.



Our second annual report documents the outcomes of our 2022 giving, highlighting new leaders in each of our program areas and sharing a few stories of the mission-driven work that our grantees have taken on with unrelenting grit and grace. We hope you will be as inspired as we are.  


Together let's make 2023 a healthy, peaceful, and productive year for our city and our communities.




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SBA 2021
Virginia Commonwealth University & Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2015)

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2022 Milestones

2022 Program Highlights


The Coleman Foundation's entrepreneurship portfolio operates to increase economic opportunity in Chicago's low- and moderate-income communities. Our strategies surround building capacities and networks of Business Support Organizations (BSOs) who serve entrepreneurs in these communities. BSOs help entrepreneurs start, scale, and grow their small businesses through a variety of programs and services such as mentorship, advising, cohort-based curricula, and more. A post from the U.S. Small Business Administration highlights a survey which found that, "70 percent of small businesses that received mentoring survived more than five years - double the survival rate of non-mentored businesses. The same survey found that 88 percent of business owners with a mentor said that having one was invaluable." The weight of an entrepreneur's success is heavily reliant on support and resource sharing, especially in neighborhoods who have been historically disinvested. Small businesses bring opportunity, economic empowerment, and jobs to local communities. Today, Coleman's staff and board are learning what entrepreneur success looks like and how a network of connected BSO's can strengthen small business' longevity that will spark generational wealth in low- and moderate-income communities. 


In 2022, The Coleman Foundation awarded 30 grants to BSOs and entrepreneurship programming that furthers our strategies and we are in awe of the work conducted in the field by our grantees. Collectively, the BSO grantees served thousands of new and established entrepreneurs. We are highlighting just a fraction of the success stories our BSOs shared with us over the course of the year.

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Windy City Harvest, From left: particpants of Windy City Harvest's Legends Farm, where they each have Incubator plots.

Photo Credit: Windy City Harvest


PRCC, Cristina Torres founder of the non-alcoholic pop-up shop called Bendición Dry Bar

Photo Credit: Puerto Rican Cultural Center

Windy City Harvest is the Chicago Botanic Garden's urban agriculture education and jobs-training initiative that helps build local food systems, foster healthier communities, and trains farmers to develop urban agriculture businesses. Located in the North Lawndale neighborhood, Windy City Harvest is home to its Entrepreneurship Pathways program, an initiative that offers a full continuum of education and support for beginning farmers: Corp Transitional Jobs for young adults, an apprenticeship program, and a farming for business incubator. Clarence Smith is one of the incubator's graduates and now runs his own revenue generating business, One Family Farm. Clarence was able to start his business because of the staff's resource sharing and assistance. With a micro-grant administered by Windy City Harvest, Clarence purchased all the seeds needed to grow his crops and start his business. Today and in partnership with The Conservation Fund, Clarence has purchased an additional 20 acres for another farm and has already grown his workforce.

YWCA Metropolitan Chicago's mission is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. Contributing to a diverse and balanced economy, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago works at the individual and systems levels to create an inclusive marketplace where everyone thrives. In 2022, the organization graduated 18 Black women small business owners over two cohorts through its Breedlove Entrepreneurship Center. Inspired by the life and legacy of Madam C.J. Walker, Breedlove is specifically designed to empower women of color to grow their empires. We heard stories from women who had never asked for helped before as they shared that they are used to fighting in silence. From determination comes perseverance as Breedlove graduates are reaping the benefits of the cohort-based programming. For instance, the founder of Lorenzo's Frozen Pudding, Genesis Bencivega, won a $25,000 pitch competition at the Courvoisier Entrepreneurship Awards and, also, expanded her product line to nearly 60 major retail locations with additional assistance from the Women's Business Development Center's Top Shelf program. Additionally, Dorothy R. Leavell, publisher of The Chicago Crusader who has held her role for the past 54 years, graduated Breedlove this past November and looks forward to not only hiring more staff, but also seeks to expand the newspaper's print and digital footprint. 

The Puerto Rican Cultural Center holistically serves the Puerto Rican community of Humbolt Park. Their mission is to educate, advocate, and empower Chicago's minority groups, such as Latinos, immigrants and refugees, African Americans, gay, and transpeople of color. Puerto Rican Cultural Center's ¡WEPA! Mercado, a former laundromat now turned small business resource and community shop, hosted its first ever Puerto Rican Christmas Market. Filled with community members and small businesses selling products, Puerto Rican Cultural Center's Executive Director Jose Lopez expressed, "The money you provide for the vendors here will help our vendors, the money you spend [in Humbolt Park] is money that stays here. This is how you build wealth." Additionally, we also learned about Cristina Torres, founder of Bendición Dry Bar and Bottle Shop. Puerto Rican Cultural Center aided Ms. Torres through licensing, commercial space location, grant applications, and more. These efforts led to the third woman-owned business opening up in heart of Humbolt Park's Puerto Rican economic and cultural epicenter, Paseo Boricua.

The Coleman Foundation is committed to ensuring small business owners and entrepreneurs have the knowledge, tools, and resources needed to be competitive and successful. In this new year, The Coleman Foundation will continue championing the value of services Business Support Organizations provide entrepreneurs, partner with our grantees to support their capacity building, and spotlight stories of many more organizations who work to uplift entrepreneurship in the city's low- and moderate-income communities.

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YWCA Spring Breedlove Graduation

Photo Credit: YWCA


U.S. Small Business Administration. Mentoring: The missing link to small business growth and survival. (2019, February 4). Retrieved November 17, 2022, from


AR22 BJ Stewart

B.J. Stewart
Sunshine Enterprises

What calls you to this work?

"I am called to this work through a desire and the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives. Sunshine Enterprises addresses the problematic correlation between the absence of work and the presence of violence in the neighborhoods where we live, work, and play. I am honored to lead a team that provides the resources that unlock and empower a tremendous force in community transformation... that's entrepreneurship and small business ownership."

Health and Rehabilitation

As part of our 2022 learning agenda focused on health equity, we learned that palliative care has been particularly underutilized by Black and Latinx communities who live in low-income, medically-underserved areas. These disparities exist due to lack of education and resources about palliative medicine, inadequate access to care, financial hardship, and mistrust and communication barriers between providers and patients.


Palliative medicine is specialized care for individuals living with a serious, life-threatening illness and aims to enhance the patient's care by focusing on quality of life. Many studies have provided evidence for the benefit of early access to palliative care to improve patient outcomes, including symptom control and management. Although much-needed, palliative care services are not always available to patients with serious chronic illnesses and accessed in a timely manner.

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The HAP Foundation, Maureen Burns, CHW, Kandis Draw, CHW and Kim Downing BSN, JD presenting at the C3 (Chicago Consortium for Community Engagement) Community Health Research Conference in October 2022.


Photo Credit: HAP Foundation

To underscore the importance of palliative care, Coleman invested in the Coleman Palliative Medicine Training Program, which was established in 2012. This program is led by UChicago Medicine and Rush University Medical Center (Rush). As described by program leaders Dr. Stacie Levine of UChicago Medicine and Dr. Sean O'Mahony of Rush, the Coleman Palliative Medicine Training Program strives to "identify unmet needs of persons living with serious illnesses in their communities and learn how to improve [its] training programs so that they better prepare healthcare providers to care for their most-vulnerable patients." One of the Program's primary focus areas is identifying barriers to palliative care among the Black and Latinx communities on the South and West Sides of Chicago.


In early 2021, the Program collaborated with community organizations that provide services to the most vulnerable patients on the South and West Sides to create a new series of free, online educational materials for community health workers in palliative care. Community health workers (CHWs) or Promotores/as de Salud (CHWs in Spanish) were targeted as the audience because they are trusted members of the neighborhoods they serve who act as frontline liaisons, connecting patients to health/social service providers, improving both the quality and cultural competence of care. The series, "Dialogues about Supportive Care with Community Health Workers", featured CHWs to discuss psychological, spiritual, and socio-behavioral components of patient care and how supportive care serves patients with life-threatening illnesses. The Program worked in partnership with the Sinai Urban Health Institute (SUHI) in identifying organizations that would benefit from this collaborative effort in creating literature and expanding their knowledge of palliative care in order to share it with the communities they serve. According to Kim Jay, the Training Manager and Senior CHW at SUHI, "Having the opportunity to work with the Coleman Palliative Medicine team alongside other community-based organizations helps to bridge gaps in knowledge and organizations, in addition to sharing a collective message around palliative care amongst CHWs in an equitable way that would empower the community and uncover options for care."


A few other noteworthy collaborations are with CHWs from Enlace Chicago (Enlace) and The HAP Foundation, who helped create content for this new online training series. Enlace is a community-based organization dedicated to increasing the quality of life in Little Village, a largely Latinx immigrant neighborhood located in Southwest Chicago. One of the education dialogues in the series aimed to define palliative medicine and raise awareness about this caregiving approach in both English and Spanish. CHWs Sahida Martinez and Ilda Hernandez at Enlace emphasized the importance of the series stating: "Palliative care is a subject that has been little explored [in the Latinx community] because we do not have access to all the information required to support families, but the online series helped us greatly in learning about different resources for individuals with a terminal illness."


The other collaborator, The HAP Foundation, is a Coleman grantee that provides education, research, workforce development and advocacy around hospice and palliative care. They currently have a team of CHWs who engage communities on the South and West Sides of Chicago. One of their CHWs, Kandis Draw, participated in a dialogue in the series that focused on educating minority communities about palliative and end-of-life care through CHWs. The HAP Foundation is excited about continuing this collaboration with the Coleman Palliative Medicine Training Program, as it "has opened the door for additional opportunities to educate the broader CHW community about serious illness care," stated Kim Downing, the Foundation's Executive Director of Program Evaluation and Research. She added, "The [HAP Foundation's] CHW team offers community education on multiple topics, including utilization disparities in hospice and palliative care, caregiver support, grief, advance care planning, and health advocacy; they also support families in connecting to resources related to serious illness and social determinants of health."


As highlighted in the training series, The Coleman Foundation recognizes the crucial role palliative care plays in improving the quality of life for those living with a serious, chronic illness and is committed to improving access to these services, especially among communities of high need. Coleman also looks forward to a growing workforce of interdisciplinary palliative care providers.




Gardner, D. S., Parikh, N. S., Villanueva, C. H., Ghesquiere, A., Kenien, C., Callahan, J., & Reid, M.

C. (2019). Assessing the palliative care needs and service use of diverse older adults in an urban medically-underserved community. Annals of Palliative Medicine, 8(5), 769-774.

National Institute on Aging. What are palliative care and Hospice Care? Retrieved January 28, 2022, from

American Public Health Association. Community health workers. Retrieved January 28, 2022, from


AR22 Kimberly Hobson

Kimberly Hobson
South Side Healthy Community Organization

What calls you to this work?

"I have deep ties to the South Side of Chicago and am passionate about transforming health in a way that builds accessibility and equity in healthcare delivery and overall wellness. I truly believe that no one should be sicker or die younger just because of where they live. Leading the South Side Healthy Community Organization gives me the opportunity to be part of a comprehensive approach to making impactful and sustainable change yielding improved health outcomes."

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

One of Coleman's priority areas for its intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) program is investing in system-wide solutions and collaborations that can create a ripple effect across the field. According to the U.S. Office of The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, the number of adults with IDD aged 60 years and older is projected to double from 641,860 in 2000 to 1.2 million by 2030. This projection creates an urgent need for a system-level approach in creating resources and training around the aging population for organizations that provide services to individuals with IDD. In January 2020, Clearbrook approached the Foundation, in collaboration with 29 service providers and other organization partners, with a proposal to revamp and modernize their curriculum titled GRACE (Generating Resources on Aging through Collaborative Energies). The GRACE curriculum is a professional development opportunity and on-the-job training platform specifically designed for Direct Support Professionals who care for elderly individuals with IDD. Clearbrook, a longtime partner of Coleman's, is the largest provider of home-based services for individuals with IDD in the state of Illinois. 


What was once an eight-pound binder packed with reading materials, assignments, and DVDs, is now a modernized, cloud-based, and interactive platform powered by Infinitec, an assistive technology program that leverages the power of technology to advance independence among individuals with IDD. Comprised of a 40-hour online training series and an 80-hour on-the-job training packet for the platform, GRACE features six modules with 30 videos for elder care professionals, by elder care professionals including key insights from medical and academic experts. The six modules cover the following topics: Introduction to Aging with GRACE, Human Rights and Dignity, Elder Abuse and Neglect, Communication Changes, Service Planning and Support Implementation, and Health Concerns and Safety Considerations. 


Cory Gumm, CEO of one of the participating organizations Search Inc., highlights the importance of the GRACE curriculum, "Search is incredibly proud to have participated in the GRACE curriculum project. This valuable training resource comes at a time when it is most needed. Individuals with IDD are aging in place longer than ever now; they deserve to do so with dignity, specialized supports, and respect. The GRACE training curriculum will equip our key staff members with the necessary skills to provide a caring environment to do just that."  


There are currently 60 agencies who have access to GRACE and all teams involved in updating the curriculum are excited to drastically grow this number. The long-term goal of GRACE is for these organizations to work with the Illinois Department of Human Services to develop a five-year retraining program for Direct Support Professionals. Hollis Gorrie, Vice President at Clearbrook proudly reflects on the efforts of the past two years, "The new GRACE curriculum provides a comprehensive online curriculum for the staff of all Infinitec organizations to learn the skills needed to support our aging IDD population. The collaborative work of the participating organizations has resulted an outstanding resource that will positively impact individuals with IDD." The Coleman Foundation looks forward learning about this impact and is excited for another year of championing the work being done to advance the lives of IDD individuals in Illinois. 




Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. IDD and dementia. (2015, June 30). Retrieved January 

12, 2022, from


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Tara May

What calls you to this work?

"Aspiritech is my dream position. It pairs my love of tech businesses with a mission I am incredibly passionate about.  We work every day to provide fantastic services to our clients and also create a better professional environment for adults on the autism spectrum and for everyone! Raising an autistic child has taught me how anyone can reach their fullest potential if they are given the right support. At Aspiritech we work every day to change the conversation around what autistic people are capable of."

2022 Grant Making

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Health and Rehabilitation
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Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
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    The Coleman Foundation, Inc.
    20 N. Wacker Dr. Suite 3410
    Chicago, IL 60606
    Phone (312) 902-7120
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