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Five Forward


The value of business partnerships is reflected in the success of our Five Forward Initiative. The Mission of Five Forward is to engage the corporate community in our common goal of strengthening our economy and enhance job creation by supporting a stronger Chicagoland MBE Community.


The vision of Five Forward is to increase the number of Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) of scale and to create jobs in communities of color.

Click to download the 2013 Five Forward Analysis

Click to download the Five Forward 20/20 Vision


The program is strengthened by partnering with other advocacy organization and public sector alliances with similar missions and objectives. This ensures that local minority business growth is an integral part of a larger coordinated regional economic development process and that a collaborative program is developed across nonprofits and governmental agencies for early stage inclusion of minority firms in

regional business opportunities.


The objectives of Five Forward are twofold: 1) Strengthen the regional and local economy; and 2) Support development of minority business of scale.


Chicago United has collected and analyze data to measure the impact of Five Forward since its inception. Here are some highlights:

  • More than double the number of direct and indirect jobs created between 2009 and 2014;
  • An increase spend of $171,000,000 in MBEs by participating corporations from 2009 to 2014;
  • Total economic impact of nearly $850 million over the five years of the programs existence.

Download the initial report and executive summary that led to the creation of Five Forward.



The Chicago United Five Forward Initiative is produced in part through funding provided by:

The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the United States – communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.  Learn more at


Program support by: 



Five Forward Committed Companies

Advocate Healthcare
Ariel Investments LLC
Baxter International Inc.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois/Health Care Service  Corporation
BMO Harris Bank N.A.
BP America, Inc.
Burns & McDonnell
Cabrera Capital Markets, LLC
The Chicago Zoological Society
ComEd, An Exelon Company
Franczek Radelet P.C.
Greeley and Hansen
HBK Engineering
KDM Engineering

Loop Capital
McDonald's Corporation
Mesirow Financial 
M.J. Electric
Nash Brothers Construction Co., Inc.
Northwestern Medicine
Peoples Gas & North Shore Gas
Roosevelt University
Rush University Medical Center
SDI Presence LLC
Sentinel Technologies
University of Illinois at Chicago
West Monroe Partners, LLC

As of 9/20/17


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