CHICAGO — Chicago and its philanthropic foundations have established the Chicago Recovery Partnership, a unique union aimed at speeding up the distribution, use, and then tracking and review of federal stimulus to benefit the city and its not-for-profit community.
The goal is to maximize the benefits of the stimulus funding through a public-private partnership in a way “that ensures the money leaves a lasting legacy,” said David Narefsky, a partner at Mayer Brown LLP, which is participating in the effort and has worked as a key adviser on the city’s lucrative public-private partnerships involving leases of city assets.
The city and its affiliate governments like the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Transit Authority have received $1 billion in federal stimulus formula funds and have applied for another $800 million available in a $28 billion grant program. The city has earmarked much of its funding for job training, energy-efficiency programs, affordable housing, crime prevention, and neighborhood infrastructure.
Under the stimulus act, fund recipients must spend the money quickly and then track and report the project results. Chicago sought help from philanthropic organizations and businesses in April, prompting the creation of the partnership that includes 50 foundations and members of city’s business, nonprofit, and academic communities.
The partnership is helping with city applications for grants to improve Chicago chances of winning grants. The partnership will also administer a revolving loan fund to ease cash-flow problems as grant funds flow in and will provide some of its own funding support to leverage stimulus dollars. The partnership is also funding its own evaluations to track not just how the funds are used but also to analyze their impact on the city and its residents.
The organization also will assist individual nonprofits in line to receive funds on an “effective use of the stimulus money” so that they don’t “fall off the cliff when the stimulus money stops,” Narefsky said while speaking on a panel on accessing and tracking stimulus funding during a conference hosted by The Bond Buyer in Chicago.
In a recent statement, Mayor Richard Daley said about the partnership: “As far as we know, there’s no other city in the nation that is working so closely with its philanthropic community to make the economic recovery dollars go farther for the taxpayers.”