At Woodstock Institute, we’re working to create an economy where everyone has access to the financial services and resources they need to prosper. We advocate for strong policy initiatives that are backed by research and will close the racial wealth gap in Chicago, in Illinois and nationally.  

Change the map! Chicago’s map and ‘the tale of two cities’ it tells will persist without changes to the laws and policies that helped create it.  This fall we are inaugurating a new coalition, We Prosper, implementing a new advocacy platform, and releasing in report form CRA Mortgages: Failure to Implement, the research we presented to several hundred policymakers and friends of our organization at a virtual event in June.

Join our Advocacy Network

a couple consulting a 3rd person

Avoid Unfair Lending
Practices: a resource guide

Times are tough! Find our regularly updated Resource Guide with strategies to help cut expenses, boost income and find safe and affordable loans at WeProsperIL.org, housed on the site of our partner New America Chicago. Visit We Prosper

Chicago City Hall image

Lending Equity Ordinance passes Chicago City Council!

The Lending Equity Ordinance, LEO, will support more equitable investment in Chicago communities by banks. The Council approved the bill September 14. Read CEO Horacio Mendez’s testimony before the Council Finance Committee, a Housing Policy Task Force op ed and get the fact sheet here.

CRA Change the map report 2

CRA Mortgages: Failure to Implement

We find that banks subject to the CRA originate mortgages in patterns inconsistent with the goals of the Act, and the gap has widened substantially between 1984 and 2019. Our newest report builds on our Change the Map presentation in June. Read more

chicago neighborhood community lending fact book

Coming this fall, two new Fact Books

One book features 2020 Dodd-Frank Data, the other will aggregate the data from 34 years of Fact Book data to analyze long-term trends.  Read more

Close the wealth gap

Our thanks to The Chicago Community Trust for this video. The video features state Senator Jacqueline Collins and Kesha Warren, whose story put a face on the issue of predatory lending in Illinois and helped lead to passage of Collins’ Predatory Loan Prevention Act.

The Trust also presented an excellent profile of work by Woodstock, Housing Action Illinois, and others to close the wealth gap by strengthening the Community Reinvestment Act.

One Year Later: Statement on Black Lives

May 25, 2021: One year ago today, George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officers. The heartbreakingly long list of names of Black and Brown people hurt by racist people and policies reminds us that this is a systemic problem that requires bold solutions.

The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Agenda enacted this year exemplifies the sort of bold policies that have long been overdue. Woodstock Institute plans to work with community leaders and impacted populations to build on and broaden that agenda.

Together, we can create a just economy that protects and invests in communities and people of color and makes real progress in addressing persistent economic and racial segregation.


June 3, 2020: Today we say to our Black brothers and sisters, we hear you. Black lives matter. Black communities matter. Black futures matter

People Over Poverty BLM Protest
Photo by Mike Von on Unsplash

The brutal killing of Black people by police must end – and it must end now. We ask this in the name of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Laquan McDonald, Sandra Bland, and so many other Black lives that were taken at the hands of an officer whose job it was to protect and serve them. We hear community calls for police reform, and we agree: the system must change.

Woodstock Institute was founded in response to racial discrimination. Through our research and policy advocacy in the financial system, we are uniquely aware of how bad policymaking can perpetuate racial discrimination and breed inequity. We see this in the stark reminder of segregated communities throughout the country.

Our staff has taken the past few days to come together. We went to protest, to pass out food in our community, to reach out to our loved ones, to grieve, and to discuss how we can each better address racism in our own lives, in our communities, and in our government.

We will continue to advocate for the end of racist policymaking, be it through unscrupulous financial service providers, discrimination in housing, or unjust fines and fees. We hope you can join us in this fight.