Working Together to Protect our Community and Advance our Academic Mission

Email from President Robert J. Zimmer (Mar. 28, 2020)

From: Robert J. Zimmer, President
Subject: Supporting our Community through the Coronavirus Crisis

The University has launched a set of activities to support our South Side neighbors, businesses, and nonprofits as they face personal and financial challenges and emergencies from the COVID-19 pandemic.

These programs, many implemented in partnership with local organizations, reflect the University’s commitment to the people of the South Side and to building and maintaining the vitality and strength of the South Side and the city of Chicago. This initiative comes at a time of significant challenge and uncertainty and will provide immediate support for families, local businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Initial efforts will be focused in the following areas, and more information about the programs is available here.

  • Community Meal Service

We will be using our dining infrastructure to provide, and in partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to safely deliver, meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner through June 12 to residents on the South Side. The effort will provide at least 225,000 meals (3,000 meals per day) throughout its course.

  • UChicago Medicine COVID-19 Response Funds

The University’s COVID-19 community support initiative also includes a campaign to support local UChicago Medicine health care workers on the frontlines of confronting this crisis, as well as the patients and families who are affected. The UChicago Medicine COVID-19 Response Funds are covering costs for patient and family hardship support, technology to connect patients and families during visitor restrictions, hospital equipment and supplies, transportation, and other urgent needs.

  • Support for Local Businesses and Nonprofits

To help bridge the resource gap for local businesses and community-based nonprofits as they wait for public sector and philanthropic assistance to be fully mobilized, the University, through its Commercial Real Estate Operations department and the Office of Civic Engagement, will provide rent relief for University commercial tenants and direct funding support in the form of small bridge grants to South Side small businesses and nonprofits. Additionally, the Polsky Exchange startup hub will develop publicly-available online workshops to help local businesses build capacity and the University’s Community Programs Accelerator will work with UChicago work-study students to serve as virtual consultants for clients and nonprofit partners.

In this difficult time, it is vital for all of us on the South Side and throughout Chicago to come together for the benefit of our community. I thank each of you for your ongoing dedication to this important work.

If you have been exposed to or test positive for COVID-19, promptly report to C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu, even if you have not been on campus.