J.P. Morgan Pledges Increased Support for Chicago

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. has pledged $40 million to help ailing neighborhoods on Chicago's south and west sides, following a similar model it applied in Detroit that focuses on economic growth to address poverty and violent crime.

The investment, announced by the bank Thursday, will be distributed to nonprofits, small businesses and others in these neighborhoods over three years.

Examples of these investments include a $500,000 grant to the Arthur M. Brazier Foundation to expand a robotics training and support program. But most of the $40 million hasn't yet been committed, bank officials say, and the bank is in talks with local nonprofits and corporations to identify the best philanthropic opportunities.

"Getting all the right people around the table to make sure we are focusing our resources correctly is key," said Peter Scher, head of corporate responsibility at J.P. Morgan.

The bank's model in Chicago will closely replicate their philanthropic investment strategy in Detroit, where J.P. Morgan has pumped $150 million into job training, youth employment and other small business development efforts. The commitment to Chicago is the bank's second-largest pledged investment to a single city, and represents a boost from the $8 million to $9 million J.P. Morgan already invests in Chicago annually.

The money will be invested through grants to various community groups, Mr. Scher said. The bank will fund a third-party evaluation of their investments, hoping to use a rigorous analysis of data to ensure that the investments are working as planned.

"We don't have to wait to the end of three or five years to find out that we weren't hitting the target," he said. "If we don't hit the metrics, we will shift to another investment."

J.P. Morgan is the latest private sector player to commit philanthropic investments to Chicago's ailing neighborhoods, which continue to be plagued by violent crime despite decades of similar efforts and a number of community groups working within this space. Last year, Chicago saw 762 homicides and over 4,000 shootings, a dramatic increase from 2015 that was unparalleled in any major city for the past 25 years.

Since the spike, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has redoubled efforts to increase job training, mentoring and summer jobs programs with the help of private sector companies, while the Chicago police department has invested in technology and worked to improve community ties to bring the violence down.

Write to Shibani Mahtani at shibani.mahtani@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 14, 2017 12:43 ET (16:43 GMT)