The 2021 grant award has increased this year, rising from $225K to $315K, and the networks plan to distribute the award to innovative charity projects that are making a difference in the community.  

For a fourth consecutive year, NBC 5, Telemundo Chicago, and Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation launched their 2021 Project Innovation Grant Challenge for non-profit organizations beginning on Jan. 8 and will close the deadline on Feb. 12. 

The award has increased this year, rising from $225K to $315K, and the networks plan to distribute the award to innovative charity projects that are making a difference in the community.  

This year, the grant providers are in search of local nonprofits that make the effort to move communities forward, transcend boundaries and encourage equity and inclusion within these communities, promote volunteerism and participation and work to provide youth with the tools they need to succeed in future entrepreneurship. 

The four grant categories: Community Engagement, Culture of Inclusion, Next Generation Storytellers, and Youth Education and Empowerment. Read full descriptions of each category here

Special Projects & Community Relations Vice President Emma Asante answers a few questions on the updated grant prize:

Q: What does this mean for those non-profit organizations to have an increase in the grant award like this?

A: The pandemic has hit our community hard and many nonprofits are struggling to help those who need it the most. The increased funding means a bigger impact for charities who are helping so many get back on their feet.

 Q: What does this additional funding allow, or unlock for these non-profit groups, versus previous years? 

 A: So many wonderful and innovative projects are submitted each year.  The additional funding gives us more reach. We can invest in even more organizations focused on out-of-the-box solutions. Together we can tackle challenges in our midst right now.

 Q: With these generous grants, what visible differences are you noticing in the community?

 A: Over the past few years we have had the honor of investing in impactful charities and meaningful projects such as:

  • BUILD Chicago, a youth violence prevention agency that provides after-school programs for kids. Their $50,000 grant converted a mini-bus to a STEAM Machine Mobile Makers Lab, a moving classroom to bring project-based learning opportunities to kids in Austin, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, and BUILD’s Block 51 Youth Center.  

  • True Star Media, teaching teens from low-income communities how to create digital content on industry-level equipment. Their $50,000 grant helped them build a “Super Team” that works with real Chicago-area clients. The paid roles are a confidence-building boost to the teens as they launch their careers in digital journalism.

  • The Nora Project, bringing school kids with and without disabilities together so they can learn from each other about diversity, friendship, and empathy. Their $50,000 grant allowed the organization to expand the program to schools in diverse communities. 

  • CARPLS Legal Aid matching low-income people in need of legal aid to attorneys that can help. Their $50,000 grant helped them expand their technology to help more people across Illinois.

  • Code Platoon, a coding boot camp for Veterans and their spouses to train them to become software developers to aid in employment opportunities.Their $50,000 grant allowed them to improve curriculum and staffing. 

Local nonprofits are encouraged to submit a Project Innovation grant application at or in Spanish at between Jan. 8 and Feb. 12, 2021.

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