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Chicago needs a long-term solution to the systemic lack of equity capital for major real estate projects in disinvested communities, but a solution involving collective corporate action does not appear to be feasible at this time. Thus, we have suspended efforts to raise corporate capital for EPIC.

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Equity Products for Investing in Communities

Despite their assets and human capital, many Chicago-area communities are systematically undervalued and lack access to the resources needed for catalytic real estate development projects. Over time, and in concert with other investments and development, these projects help create the conditions that support conventional, market-rate investment and economic activity. Reflecting community aspirations, and often led by people of color, these projects have the potential to change a community's economy, improve quality of life, and contribute to greater regional growth and prosperity.

EPIC Advocate
Leon Walker
Managing Partner, DL3 Realty
Of nearly $50 billion in commitments to advancing racial equity made since 2020, large financial institutions have committed more than 90% in the form of debt.
The Washington Post
Corporate America's $50 Billion Promise

A gap in the financing marketplace.

Debt capital is generally available through Chicago's robust CDFI industry and key bank partners. However, debt alone is insufficient to advance complex community development projects.
Available public funding is highly-targeted, inflexible, and scarce
Philanthropic grants are essential but not routinely available on the scale significant projects require
Projects need low-cost, patient, flexible, and risk-tolerant equity capital


EPIC is a capital pool designed to provide the equity and equity-like resources catalytic projects need to proceed and lay the foundation for long-term, structural change in community development investment and financing.

EPIC's flexible, patient, and risk-tolerant capital can unlock other resources (grants, public subsidies, debt), and make it possible for projects to proceed. In time, EPIC will become a proof-of-concept for this type of capital, demonstrating that it should and can be routinely available.

How it works.

EPIC is a capital pool with $40-million of investment capital and a $10-million loss reserve.

Its innovative design provides that maximum project returns to EPIC are capped at below-market rate so that wealth can accrue to the benefit of the developer or sponsor.

The portfolio is managed with the goal of repaying original capital plus a modest return to investors.   
During the first three years, investors provide capital in the form of unsecured loans, recoverable grants, or grants through scheduled capital calls.
Over a four-year investment period, equity capital is made available to projects in the form of recoverable grants, non-dilutive equity, or first-loss subordinated debt.
Likely projects include commercial properties, mixed-use developments, restaurants and entertainment venues, grocery stores, local shops and services, and community facilities.
EPIC is led by the EPIC Collaborative, which has been formed by leading community development financial institutions (CDFIs) in Chicago: Chicago Community Loan Fund (CCLF), IFF, and LISC Chicago. These organizations are industry experts. They have “boots on the ground” and deep knowledge of low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color and how to creatively structure deals that succeed. 

EPIC is housed at and managed by CCLF, a nationally respected, 30-year-old, African-American-led CDFI, with staff leadership provided by a dedicated Director and investment decisions by an independent, single-purpose investment committee.
An impact measurement system will track sources and uses of capital, leverage, and other key outcomes that will tell the story and guide the development of equity capital as a regular product in the community development financing marketplace.
Cohort members participate in a learning series twice per month, building skills and a foundational understanding of resilience practices.
Multi User
Unlimited Viewers
Pro Insights
Integrations with Figma, Jira, Dropbox
Cohort members share their own experiences, challenges, solutions, and resources in meetings and smaller affinity groups to accelerate shared progress.
Multi User
Unlimited Viewers
Pro Insights
Integrations with Figma, Jira, Dropbox
Taking Action
Cohort members take action in ways that work for their organization, based on ideas in the learning series, a customized assessment, and a catalog of services and expertise.
Multi User
Unlimited Viewers
Pro Insights
Integrations with Figma, Jira, Dropbox

EPIC offers an opportunity to help lay the foundation for a permanent change in the community development financing marketplace.

Establish powerful proof of concept.
The success of EPIC will prove that patient, flexible, risk-tolerant equity and equity-like capital can unlock capital, advance projects, and build community wealth while supporting capital preservation and a modest return for impact-first investors.
Provide community benefits.
EPIC will support projects that bring services, amenities, jobs, and economic activity to places that need them, fostering increased value, vitality, optimism, and confidence. 
Improve market conditions.
Catalytic projects supported by EPIC, with other development, will help diminish the perceived risk of investing in undervalued and  disinvested communities, over time supporting conventional, market-rate investment and other economic activity.
Contribute to regional growth.
Because regions with greater equality grow faster than those with areas of economic disinvestment, communities with more equitable access to financial resources like EPIC contribute to a more prosperous region.  
Contribute to a national effort.
The EPIC experience will contribute to a national effort underway to extend the reach and impact of the community development finance industry. 

Leon walker

Managing Partner, DL3 Realty
"We want to see capital hit the streets and change lives—not just aspirational headlines."
The Corporate Coalition advances Leon's mission.
DL3 is committed to investing equity capital into high-impact real estate projects that create a ripple effect in Chicago's historically disinvested communities.

The Corporate Coalition provides a forum where we can connect with other like-minded stakeholders and source funding for projects that improve economic prospects and the lives of local residents.
DL3 supports EPIC.
EPIC will provide the necessary pre-development capital and gap funding so that South and West Side developers can close deals and move their communities forward. I am excited to help shape this timely initiative that can be implemented and scaled to connect Black and Brown entrepreneurs to impact equity capital.

Corporate Coalition of Chicago