The Community First Awards celebrate the success of Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago member institutions and their local partners as they work together to strengthen the communities they serve. Nominations are accepted annually in four categories: Affordable Housing, Economic Development, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Emerging Leader.

Affordable Housing

Recognizes an exceptional effort to increase or strengthen affordable housing opportunities in Illinois and/or Wisconsin communities. Eligible nominees may include single- or multi-family projects (new construction, rehabilitation, or adaptive reuse); homeownership programming (down payment assistance programs, mortgage lending programs, etc.); housing strategies; partnership in affordable housing, etc. Projects that reflect community collaboration, support underserved populations, and/or utilize innovative approaches are strongly encouraged.

Economic Development

Recognizes an extraordinary effort to foster economic growth or community revitalization in Illinois and/or Wisconsin communities. Eligible nominees may include business-lending programs focused on creating or retaining jobs; workforce development initiatives; development or redevelopment of community facilities; and/or unique partnerships supporting the planning or financing of an economic development project. Projects that reflect community collaboration, support underserved populations, and/or utilize innovative approaches are strongly encouraged.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Recognizes an organization or coalition dedicated to advancing the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the affordable housing and/or economic development space in Illinois and/or Wisconsin. Eligible nominees must be working to advance and empower underserved populations, including, but not limited to, Black and Latino communities, Native Americans, rural communities, and/or special needs persons.

Emerging Leader

Recognizes an outstanding emerging leader relatively new to the affordable housing and/or economic development field (defined as fifteen or fewer years). This individual demonstrates initiative, delivers remarkable results, and goes above and beyond to serve their community. Eligible nominees may be employees of an FHLBank Chicago member institution or a community organization located in Illinois or Wisconsin. The Community First Awards are presented at FHLBank Chicago's annual member meetings.