Our region’s communities have great strengths, but today face extraordinary challenges. Recovering from the pandemic will require an unprecedented effort. And racism and other barriers limit economic opportunities for too many people, even in good times. Project Hometown is the Chicago Fed’s commitment to engaging all of our communities as they confront these challenges. Project Hometown will bring together civic leaders, expert researchers, Chicago Fed staff, and concerned residents. Through these diverse perspectives, Project Hometown will examine how our hometowns can recover from the pandemic, overcome longstanding inequities, grow stronger, and provide all people with the opportunity to thrive.

A Message From President Evans
There are many elements of this crisis that we need to use as a catalyst to really think about the future of Chicago...

Jennifer Scanlon
Chair, Commercial Club of Chicago
CEO, UL Corp.

Event Recap

Public Education in Chicago During the Pandemic – Challenges for Fall 2020

View the event page | Read event summary

Minority Middle Neighborhoods in a Time of Crisis

View the event page | Read event summary

Workforce Challenges During Chicago’s Recovery August 10

How can government, philanthropy, education, and the private sector work together to make workplaces safe under pandemic conditions and get displaced workers back to work? What strategies can be built into such efforts to improve the long-run job prospects for racially diverse and economically disadvantaged workers? Chicago leaders from business, labor, education, and workforce development organizations will discuss these questions.

The Role of Urban Planning, Architecture,
and Transportation in Chicago’s Future
August 17

Chicago, like most major cities, has seen uneven economic development over the last two decades. Growth in and near downtown has been pronounced, while neighborhoods on the South Side and West Side have seen disinvestment and population loss. Experts will examine the roles of urban planning, architecture, and transportation in Chicago’s growth, how the physical features of the city may adapt to the pandemic, and how the city’s infrastructure and built environment can support inclusive economic growth.

The Future of Innovation in an Inclusive Chicago
The Demography and Geography of Covid-19: Implications for Chicago’s Residents and Neighborhoods
Rebuilding for Resilience: How Will Iowa Thrive After the Pandemic? August 18

What will the recovery from the pandemic look like for Iowa, and what role will different sectors play? The state faces many challenges, especially given its urban and rural economies and the importance of its farms and businesses to the nation’s supply chain. Government, industrial, and nonprofit leaders will consider the challenges Iowa has faced during the pandemic, as well as the roles that government, philanthropy, education, and the business sector can play to ensure a recovery in which all Iowans can thrive.

Visions for Detroit’s Future: A Community Forum
Indianapolis after the Covid-19 Pandemic
Rebuilding Milwaukee’s Economy: A Community Forum
Public Education in Chicago During the Pandemic –
Challenges for Fall 2020
August 3

The pandemic forced a sudden transition to remote learning. Although students, parents and educators are striving to adapt, the risk of massive and inequitable losses of learning still remains. And even before the pandemic, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), like many other school districts, was confronting challenges in educating all its students. Education leaders and stakeholders will discuss the challenges and opportunities confronting CPS and its students, and how we might address them.

Minority Middle Neighborhoods in a Time of Crisis July 29

Chicago has a rich history of minority "middle" neighborhoods. These are neighborhoods that for decades had a large base of middle- and working-class residents, high rates of homeownership, and active commercial corridors. But as places in the city have become more unequal, these predominantly minority neighborhoods have become increasingly vulnerable to economic shocks. Covid-19, the economic slowdown, and civil unrest have magnified the challenges.

Visions for Chicago's Future: A Community Forum July 1

The virtual event brought together government, community, health, and business leaders to discuss visions for how Chicago recovers from the Covid-19 crisis.

Featured Publications

Reimagining Education: Chicago Public Schools During and After Covid-19

By Lisa Camner McKay

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to in-person education. To discuss the challenges facing educators, students, and families, the Chicago Fed convened a panel of expert practitioners and researchers as part of its Project Hometown initiative. The panel explored the needs of different student populations and how education leaders can use this disruption to reimagine what schools might look like when in-person education resumes.

Begin with Your Block: Challenges and Prospects for Chicago’s Minority Middle Neighborhoods

By Lisa Camner McKay

Historically Chicago’s minority “middle” neighborhoods have been attractive places to live, with a large base of middle- and working-class residents, active business corridors, affordable housing, and proximity to the city’s center. Over the past 40 years, however, the disappearance of manufacturing jobs, discriminatory housing policies, and disinvestment have left minority middle neighborhoods particularly vulnerable to economic shocks. The current coronavirus pandemic has impacted almost every facet of economic life in these communities. Perhaps the most obvious distress is among small businesses, which have experienced a rapid and widespread decline in employment.

This blog post summarizes a Project Hometown panel discussion on Wednesday, July 29, that brought together practitioners and researchers to explore the challenges faced by Chicago’s minority middle neighborhoods.

Chicago Community Forum Explores Urban Challenges During Covid-19

By Amy Bickers and Mark Peters

The Chicago Fed hosted a community forum on Wednesday, July 1, that brought together government, civic, health, and business leaders to share their visions for how Chicago recovers from the Covid-19 crisis and rebuilds its economy. The discussion underscored the urgent need for Chicago to tackle its longstanding challenges of providing equal opportunity (especially in education and jobs), combating racism, and reducing wealth inequality as part of the city’s response to the pandemic.

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