Opportunity Chicago 2017-04-05T20:18:11+00:00


Opportunity Chicago was a collaborative of government agencies, foundations, nonprofit organizations and employers. This $27.5 million initiative was developed jointly by CHA, the City of Chicago and The Partnership for New Communities (PNC), a group of business, civic and foundation partners that supported the people and places most affected by CHA’s 15-year Plan for Transformation (The Plan).

Driven by The Plan, an unprecedented endeavor to transform public housing, Opportunity Chicago was a comprehensive effort to connect low-skilled public housing residents to employment and redefine how Chicago’s public workforce development system serves all low-skilled, low-income job seekers. Opportunity Chicago’s overarching strategic priorities were to simultaneously:

  • Expand and enhance the existing workforce service delivery system to maximize employment opportunities for CHA residents;

  • Promote innovative employment skills and training programs;

  • Engage employers in the design and execution of sector- or industry-based partnerships;

  • Advocate for public policies that support sustainable improvements to the public workforce development system;

  • Evaluate the initiative’s effectiveness and determine the relevance of its model for other low-income communities and populations.

Opportunity Chicago was collaborative by design, with PNC, CHA and the Chicago Jobs Council at the coordinating center. The partners convened the Strategic Advisers Group (SAG) to develop comprehensive, career-focused workforce development strategies for CHA residents. The SAG’s role was advisory – to provide expertise and knowledge of best practices, to review plans and activities, to provide other resources as appropriate, and to advocate for public policy and systems change.

Residents placed in jobs
Retained employment for two or more years
of those placed in jobs had not worked in the two years prior to accessing Opportunity Chicago programs
Residents completed certificate and degree programs through City Colleges of Chicago

Opportunity Chicago ended December 2010, but its dedicated partners will continue to help ensure that programs and services established through Opportunity Chicago are integrated into the public workforce development system, funding streams are better aligned and resources are used more efficiently.  These partners will also use the lessons learned from Opportunity Chicago to inform federal and state advocacy.

Participated in Industry Skills Training
Participated in a Transitional Job and 80 percent transitioned into unsubsidized employment
Million invested over 5 years
Of funding spent on funding work readiness, skills training, and job placement

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