July 2023: Summer Newsletter

Summer Newsletter header The Coleman Foundation

From the CEO


As much as I welcome summer like any Midwesterner, I admit that the joy of this season has been tempered by what feels like a barrage of bad news in local and national headlines these past few weeks. Sometimes the negativity in the news can alienate us from each other – maybe it feels too abstract because we don’t think we personally know anyone who has been impacted. Other times we can feel completely overwhelmed because the news hits so close to home.

That’s where I’ve found myself recently, specifically in reaction to the effect of the Canadian wildfires on Chicago’s air quality, followed so closely by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action. It has been a one-two punch, making it hard to breathe, literally and figuratively. We should all be able to take clean air for granted. Similarly, although I’ve never taken affirmative action for granted, I had hoped that future generations would have the same doors opened for them which affirmative action opened for me and millions of my peers. It has left me to wonder what future are we creating for families and communities- especially those who have fewer resources, and those who encounter multiple barriers?

In 2020, I joined the Coleman Foundation as its first Black employee and its first woman CEO. The Foundation dedicates its resources to those who need them the most, focusing on organizations serving the communities that have experienced historic underinvestment. To this end, we fund efforts to provide people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities with access to innovative programming. We also support initiatives addressing inequities in health outcomes and life expectancies which vary drastically from zip code to zip code. Finally, we invest in business support organizations who provide training and services for entrepreneurs, because we know that entrepreneurship is a pathway to economic opportunity. These strategies reflect our mission and our values.

This is my “why” – why I am called to serve Coleman Foundation’s mission every day.

It is an honor and privilege to introduce our second newsletter of 2023, announcing our recent grant investments of $1.38 million and sharing insights from our June Mission Moment.  Also, in case you missed it, here’s a link to my article about how our staff honors Juneteenth. Read on and enjoy.




Q2 2023 Grantmaking


South Side business owners gather to announce Greater Chatham Initiative’s Soul Delivered, a community-driven food delivery service. Credit: Atavia Reed/Block Club Chicago


The Coleman Foundation’s funding in entrepreneurship is centered on increasing economic opportunity by investing in entrepreneurship education. In June, Coleman’s Board of Directors approved $480,000 in grants awarded across eight organizations that strive to eliminate barriers to success for entrepreneurs who reside in low- and moderate-income communities. The Q2 docket reflects commitments made towards executive leadership education for small business owners, convening opportunities for grantee partners, and growing staff capacity at business support organizations.

The Foundation is proud to welcome four new organizations into the entrepreneurship portfolio.

  • New Covenant Community Development Corporation serves North Lawndale’s aspiring and established entrepreneurs and provides an in-demand business financial dashboard program to entrepreneurs across Chicago.
  •  South Shore Community Development Corporation focuses on the development of 71st Street and the 71st corridor. With both public and private partnerships, South Shore Community Development Corporation is preparing for a residential and tourism boom with new economic investments, specifically the new Obama Presidential Center.
  • Greater Chatham Initiative serves South Side Black restaurateurs through its FoodLab educational series and Soul Delivered, a community-driven food delivery platform to connect Black restaurants with Chicago’s South Side residents.
  • Southland Development Authority, provides a multitude of advising and technical assistance, is piloting a program that provides a pathway to entrepreneurship through the acquisition of existing businesses.
A healthcare provider at La Rabida assisting a pediatric patient. Credit: La Rabida

Health and Rehabilitation

Coleman’s health grantmaking in the second quarter focused on access to care and chronic disease prevention and management. Funded partners included La Rabida Children’s Hospital, Saint Anthony Hospital, and University of Chicago (UChicago) Medicine.

Coleman provided funding for La Rabida Children’s Hospital outpatient care services for patients with asthma, diabetes, and sickle cell disease. La Rabida has been providing care for over 100 years to children with complex medical conditions and chronic illnesses regardless of families’ ability to pay. La Rabida has been a longstanding partner of Coleman’s, as the South Side hospital has a deep understanding of the challenges their under-resourced patients and families face.

Located in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, Saint Anthony Hospital provides healthcare for underserved residents primarily in the Southwest and West Sides. Coleman’s Board of Directors approved a grant to support the hospital’s Home Visiting Program. This pilot program is a hyperlocal and culturally tailored approach in addressing chronic disease prevention and management, as well as social determinants of health needs utilizing teams of Community Health Workers and Certified Nursing Assistants.

Another long-term partner of Coleman’s is UChicago Medicine. The Hyde Park-based institution provides vital healthcare to the socioeconomically disadvantaged populations living on the City’s South Side and Southwest suburbs. Coleman renewed funding for The Coleman Palliative Program to help expand the program to engage advocates and leaders of underserved areas to identify their communities’ palliative care needs and develop new training curriculum addressing palliative care across the lifespan and underserved communities.

All three grants inform Coleman’s learning agenda for health by addressing the Foundation’s curiosity about key barriers to healthcare among vulnerable populations. They also highlight culturally tailored and patient-centered programming for chronic disease prevention and management.


Self-advocates of the Going Home Coalition standing up for their rights. Credit: Going Home Coalition

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

In this past funding cycle, Coleman supported The Arc of Illinois, an organization that educates, advocates, and connects people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), their families, and community service providers to enable them to have the lives of their choosing. One of The Arc of Illinois’ primary advocacy programs is the Going Home Coalition, which is comprised of self-advocates with IDD, families, community service providers, and allies. The overarching goals of the Coalition are to: (1) create a pathway towards closure of Illinois’ seven remaining state-operated developmental centers (SODCs) and (2) increase system-wide change in IDD support structures (e.g., day programs, inclusive employment opportunities) to transition those with IDD from SODCs into the larger community. This grant informs Coleman’s learning agenda for IDD by highlighting system-wide solutions that focus on raising awareness of the challenges faced by individuals with IDD and their families, improving the quality of person-centered services, and promoting individual choice and community integration.

June 2023 Mission Moment: Access to Care

Nicole Milano, Project Director of Wellness West, Kimberly Hobson, Chief Executive Officer of the South Side Healthy Community Organization; and Dr. Mary Pasquinelli, a Nurse Practitioner within the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System (UI Health) lead a panel on Access to Care

The Coleman Foundation’s current strategic plan includes a learning agenda for each of our three programmatic areas: Entrepreneurship, Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities, and Health & Rehabilitation. The overarching goal of the Health & Rehabilitation program is increasing equitable health outcomes so that there is a higher quality of life among the underserved and under-resourced. In pursuit of this goal, Coleman established a learning agenda that focuses on access to care, workforce development, and chronic disease prevention and management through a lens of cultural competence and patient-centered care.

Coleman’s learning agendas are realized by engaging our Board of Directors in grantee partner convenings, leader briefings, site visits, and Mission Moments. Mission Moments are panel discussions with grantee partners held during Coleman board meetings to spotlight one of our programmatic focus areas. The June Mission Moment highlighted access to care, as it is a core part of the Health & Rehabilitation program. Through this Mission Moment, Coleman aimed to learn more about the barriers to healthcare, particularly on the South and West Sides of Chicago, and how its grantee partners remove these barriers for underserved and under-resourced communities. According to a 2019 analysis done by the New York University School of Medicine, the life expectancy gap between Downtown Chicago and neighborhoods on the South and West Sides can be up to 30 years.

Mission Moment panels are typically led by experts from three organizations. In June’s Mission Moment, the three panelists were Kimberly Hobson, Chief Executive Officer of the South Side Healthy Community Organization; Nicole Milano, Project Director of Wellness West, and Dr. Mary Pasquinelli, a Nurse Practitioner within the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System (UI Health).

Both South Side Healthy Community Organization (SSHCO) and Wellness West are organizations formed by the State of Illinois Healthcare Transformation Collaboratives funding. SSHCO seeks to reduce health inequities and improve health outcomes for patients residing on the South Side of Chicago through a network of federally qualified health centers, safety net hospitals, and health systems. Similarly, Wellness West addresses health inequities on the West Side of Chicago through area hospitals, residents, health centers, and behavioral health providers. Ultimately, they seek to transform health care on Chicago’s West Side through a community-driven, collaborative, and evidence-based approach to make lasting change. Additionally, Coleman funded UI Health’s BRIDGE Lung Cancer Screening Pilot. This pilot aims to increase access to screening and improve lung cancer outcomes in the South and West Sides of Chicago.

During the Mission Moment, the panelists explained what access to care means in the context of their organization’s mission, the significant barriers to healthcare among their communities, and what strategies they implement to address these barriers. For example, Wellness West places care navigators in emergency departments on the West Side to screen patients for social determinants of health needs, such as housing, food, and transportation. Another example includes Dr. Pasquinelli and her team at UI Health providing tailored outreach and education approaches in Spanish and Chinese around lung cancer education, as well as connecting high-risk individuals directly to a screening program. Additionally, the panelists explained how their organizations build trust with the people they serve, which is a key element of creating access to care and ultimately establishing a framework for health equity. For instance, SSHCO builds trust with their communities by hiring vendors, employees, and healthcare providers from surrounding communities to reflect the lived experiences of the patients they serve.

Mission Moments are part of the Coleman Foundation’s commitment to centering our work around our grantee partners and elevating their efforts to improve the lives of the people living in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Coleman Staff (L-R)Tom Trinley, Nathan Stevens, Jennifer Oh, Shelley Davis, Sean Washington and Erin Fleming with Taylor Mason (Center) of Taylor’s Tacos, June 2023




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The Coleman Foundation, Inc.
20 N. Wacker Dr. Suite 3410
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone (312) 902-7120
Fax (312) 902-7124

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