Chicago United’s Five Forward Initiative

July 21, 2016

CASE is proud to be a collaborative partner of Chicago United’s Five Forward Initiative.

For 40 years, Chicago United has promoted diverse leadership in business to advance parity in economic opportunity by focusing on three areas: governance, management, and business partnerships.  Five Forward which emerges from the third area of focus on diverse business partnerships, connects corporate Chicago with trading partners that mirror their customer base, as well as the demographic environment.

In the fall of 2015, Chicago United introduced Five Forward 20/20, the expansion of its Five Forward Initiative, designed to strengthen the local economy and enhance job creation by supporting a stronger Chicagoland minority business enterprise (MBE) community. The advocacy organization is aiming to increase the footprint of local minority suppliers in the corporate supply chain. Through Five Forward, Chicago-area corporations commit to doing business with five local minority firms over five years. As local MBEs grow and enhance their capacity to compete for national corporate contracts outside of Five Forward, the local corporate community benefits from a more competitive pool of diverse businesses.

With focused attention and support from Five Forward Committed Corporations, Chicago can become the fastest growing MBE market in the country. The inaugural 21 committed corporations reported spending over $350 million in 2014 with selected MBEs, an 82% increase over the numbers reported during 2008. Job creation was measured by the University of Illinois for early adopters of the program. The program measured that job creation grew from approximately 2,000 to over 4,500 during the initial phase of Five Forward. Additional research was conducted in June 2014 and can be found here.

As collaborative partners, CASE and Chicago United will work together to provide opportunities for MBEs in support of our common goal of strengthening the local economy and enhancing job creation for a stronger Chicagoland-based MBE community. CASE will provide MBEs access with anchor institutions through their Diagnostic Tool, and Chicago United will provide access for MBEs to participate with committed corporations supporting Five Forward.

Visit for more information. For any questions, please contact Alex Leza at or Berlon Hamilton at