Coronavirus Updates

The leadership teams of eight Chicago nonprofits will participate in the inaugural cohort of IGNITE, a unique program designed to help amplify the impact of organizations serving the Black community in Chicago.

The selected nonprofits work to uplift their communities through workforce development, youth programming, criminal legal aid services and advocacy, restorative justice and socio-emotional learning, support for families, community and economic wellness programs, and activism through dance. Four organizations in the cohort serve Black populations citywide while others are focused on the South and West neighborhoods in Chicago.

Established with a significant five-year commitment from Golub Capital, IGNITE is the signature offering of the Golub Capital Social Impact Lab at the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The program, developed In partnership with Golub Capital and the Chicago Urban League, offers tailored resources to the leaders of nonprofits serving the Black community in Chicago to strengthen and scale the impact of their organizations.

“It is a privilege to welcome our first cohort. Each of the eight nonprofit organizations serve the Black community in different ways. What they have in common is their passion for their community and the desire to continue to learn and grow their organizations,” said Tyeise Huntley, Director of the Golub Capital Lab. “We are excited to offer an opportunity for the leadership teams to work together, access world-class resources at the University of Chicago, and to create a space for them to hear from and learn from each other.”  

The nine month program includes classroom sessions led by Chicago Booth faculty and nonprofit practitioners, networking opportunities with leading philanthropists and Black leaders in Chicago, monthly executive coaching, peer discussions in leadership circles, and financial stipends to support capacity building work. Topics for the classroom sessions include strategy, decision making, marketing, and securing and managing resources. The program begins and ends with retreats, providing participants with opportunities to build connections and to reflect on the shared experience. 

“The nonprofit organizations that support the Black community in Chicago are at the heart of our city – strengthening communities, providing critical services, and tackling complex challenges. IGNITE combines essential resources and connections so that these organizations can maximize their potential and expand their impact,” said Dorri McWhorter, President and CEO, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago and Rustandy Center Nonprofit Engagement Executive in Residence.

The program kicks off in January and ends with a retreat in September 2023. Applications for the 2023-24 cohort will open in the fall of 2023.

To learn more about IGNITE, visit the Golub Capital Social Impact Lab. 

IGNITE Participants

Cabrini Green Legal Aid  
Provides holistic legal services, including social support services and advocacy for individuals and communities negatively impacted by the criminal legal system.
Aisha Edwards (Executive Director), Cynthia Cornelius, Vickie Spires.

LIFT Chicago 
Breaks the cycle of poverty by investing in families. 
Sarah Spunt (Executive Director), Jen Lambert, Rachel Ray.

Love, Unity & Values Institute 
Inspires hope and empowers underserved youth with economic opportunities while building resiliency and social-emotional competencies. 
Cosette Nazon-Wilburn (Executive Director), Linda Upshaw, Norris Smith.

New Root Learning
Uplifts restorative mindsets in adults to co-create thriving spaces for youth and communities through equity, wellness and radical love.
Jacquelyn Lemon (CEO), Rosa Zamora, Ryan Nishimoto.

One On One
Affirms the dignity and self-reliance of underserved individuals and their families through meaningful employment. 
Rebekah Kikama (Executive Director), Franklin Ballenger, Nathaniel Arrington.

Red Clay Dance Company
Awakens “glocal” Artivism through creating, performing, and teaching dances of the African Diaspora.
Vershawn Sanders-Ward (CEO), Raymond Ward, Jailen Ellis.

True Star Foundation Inc.
Empowers underserved youth to forge their own paths by providing jobs and training that teaches them to create, develop, and market digital content on platforms that celebrate their identity and perspectives.
DeAnna McLeary Sherman (Executive Director), Na-Tae' Thompson, Kayla Sims.

West Side United
Addresses Chicago’s 13-year life expectancy gap between the Loop and ten West Side communities by supporting community health and economic wellness on Chicago’s West Side while building healthy, vibrant, neighborhoods.
Ayesha Jaco (Executive Director), Eve Shapiro, Patrick Hendricks.


The Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation is the destination at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business for people committed to helping solve complex social and environmental problems. As Chicago Booth’s social impact hub, the Rustandy Center offers hands-on learning opportunities, supports innovative courses, and pursues research—all with the goal of developing people and practices with the potential to solve the world’s biggest problems.

Golub Capital is a market-leading, award-winning direct lender and experienced credit asset manager. It specializes in delivering reliable, creative, and compelling financing solutions to companies backed by private equity sponsors.

Chicago Urban League is one of the oldest and largest affiliates of the National Urban League. It works to achieve equity for Black families and communities through social and economic empowerment. 

Email icon

Get Updates from the Rustandy Center

Please send me updates on social impact events, programs, and research at Chicago Booth.

Get Updates from the Rustandy Center