Chicago Booth To Boost Nonprofits In BIPOC Communities

George Wu, a professor of behavioral science at Chicago Booth, will direct the new Golub Capital Social Impact Lab

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business is partnering on a unique five-year program to provide training and professional development to amplify the impact of leaders of high-potential nonprofits serving communities of color. And the lab’s director says he hopes it will be a model for a national program.

The Golub Capital Social Impact Lab is aimed at helping nonprofit leaders better serve those communities, says George Wu, professor of behavioral science at the Booth School and faculty director for the new lab.

“Nonprofits in general face challenges, but the problems faced by nonprofits serving communities of color have been more difficult because Covid has increased and highlighted some of the economic and social outcomes experienced by these communities,” Wu tells Poets&Quants.

The lab is being created by Golub Capital, a credit asset manager with more than $45 billion of capital, in partnership with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and the Chicago Urban League. The Chicago Urban League is a nonprofit that was founded more than a century ago with the goal of economic empowerment and equity for Black communities.


The new lab will live at Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation.

At the core of the lab is IGNITE, a professional development and mentorship program for nonprofit leaders serving the Black community. The program will aid nonprofit leaders in developing both hard and soft skills through community networking, coaching, mentorship, and consulting. The lab will also provide funding for internal capacity building. Nonprofit leaders from a variety of sectors will be recruited to participate, including leaders in education, healthcare, workforce development, and arts and culture.

“There is no shortage of resourceful and capable leaders working to address critical needs in communities of color,” Karen Freeman-Wilson, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League said in a press release. “But far too often these individuals have limited access to resources to strengthen their leadership capacity and increase their impact.”


Nonprofits and nonprofit leaders often rely on philanthropic funding to do their work, but this type of funding is sometimes lacking for nonprofits that serve communities of color, or are led by people of color.

In a study of the breakdown of funding from 25 different community foundations across 25 cities, researchers from the National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy found that just 1% of funding was given specifically to serve Black communities. In comparison, the Black population in the 25 different cities, combined, was 15%. A separate report found that nonprofits led by people of color win less grant money. And, given that the average Black family has eight times less wealth than white families, funding from friends and family that is typical of smaller nonprofits, is not an option.

The lab at Chicago Booth will be the third Golub Capital Impact Lab. In 2019, Golub created its first one at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and its second lab in 2021, at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. The network of labs is meant to support leaders and academics at leading business schools to do good work in the nonprofit sector.

The IGNITE program will be kicked off later this year.

“We are hoping that success in Chicago will help us create a playbook for scaling the program nationally, in partnership with other chapters of the Urban League,” Wu says.


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