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Northwestern announces $100 million community benefits agreement proposal for the City of Evanston

The 10-year agreement will focus on equity, affordable housing, education, economic development and community engagement

Northwestern University proposed an unprecedented series of community benefits in a draft agreement submitted to the City of Evanston, committing $100 million in support of city services and programs that will benefit all Evanstonians.

Northwestern is committed to such public benefits outlined in the draft agreement as part of:

  • Fostering a broader relationship and strengthening a deeper connection between Northwestern and the entire Evanston community
  • The redevelopment of Ryan Field, including concerts as proposed by Northwestern
  • Helping provide more opportunities for additional future collaboration and partnership between Northwestern and the Evanston community as a whole

The commitment, over a period of 10 years, will re-establish and triple Northwestern’s contributions to the City’s Good Neighbor Fund, increasing the amount to $3 million per year. Northwestern also will commit to awarding a minimum of $2 million a year in financial aid supporting Evanston high school students and make a focused effort to increase applications and admissions to Northwestern from Evanston high school students. 

Northwestern also will plan to distribute $1 million in aggregate per year to local not-for-profits, schools, faith-based institutions and community organizations, and extend the Racial Equity and Community Partnership Grant program, which gives $500,000 annually to organizations that work to establish ambitious local programs that promote racial equity.

Among other commitments put forth by Northwestern in the draft agreement:

  • Supported by a $10 million gift from the Ryan family, Northwestern will invest $500,000 annually in local workforce development and upskilling initiatives. 
  • Northwestern also will guarantee $2 million in annual tax revenues to the city, driven by and assuming concert events occur at Ryan Field.  
  • Northwestern will guarantee $500,000 in aggregate annually to the two Evanston school districts, supported by a ticket surcharge on all concert tickets at Ryan Field.
  • Northwestern will set aside $250,000 in annual support for a signature event to be developed jointly between Northwestern and the city. 
  • Northwestern will contribute $250,000 a year for the revitalization of downtown Evanston, including support for the downtown clean team. 

In addition to these commitments, Northwestern has announced ambitious targets for achieving at least 35% of the stadium construction spend with minority-owned and women-owned businesses, with priority given to Evanston-based businesses. Northwestern has pledged to remain transparent in this process by providing an outline of efforts and public reports on progress at each major stage of the project.

The stadium is estimated to generate more than $659.9 million in economic impact to Evanston over the lifetime of the project. The design, planning and construction will support more than 2,900 jobs and generate $12 million in direct fees to Evanston.

In further support of Evanston’s local economy during and after construction, Northwestern has pledged to provide marketing and advertising support, in partnership with the Kellogg School of Management, to help local businesses maximize the positive impact of the new stadium. Northwestern also will assist the city in its fundraising efforts to support Evanston’s Guaranteed Basic Income Program and jointly create a new internship program.

Northwestern plans to work with the city to forge a stronger partnership around sustainability, leveraging Northwestern’s research and programmatic expertise to drive joint sustainability initiatives and improvements.

“Northwestern has always strived to be a good neighbor for all of Evanston,” said Dave Davis, Northwestern’s senior executive director of neighborhood and community relations. “From the very beginning, our stadium design prioritized community feedback and was designed to be a community hub of fun and positive activity for our neighbors and the broader Evanston community. Our proposed agreement is an extension of those efforts.”

Added Davis: “We are thrilled for the opportunity to bring this multi-million-dollar investment to Evanston to support the future development, strength and resiliency of our local economy and workforce. The proposed agreement demonstrates our accountability and steadfast commitment to the betterment of the Evanston community that we all call home.”

Northwestern’s proposed agreement marks a new chapter in public-private partnership within Evanston, creating a new framework and foundation for stewardship within the community. It will create new public open spaces for the community and host free local festivals and community events. Northwestern plans to establish a program in which Evanston residents will be able to access concert tickets through pre-sales, among other resident-specific programs.

Once negotiated, finalized, and signed, such agreement on public benefits and operational/logistical matters will be legally binding and enforceable.

The Evanston City Council vote on Northwestern’s proposal to rebuild the stadium is expected Nov. 13.