Chicago Arts and CultureDanceSummer 2022

Deeply Rooted Awarded $50K from UC Accelerator

On May 18, the Community Programs Accelerator at the University of Chicago announced that Deeply Rooted Dance Theater is one of two organizations joining the Accelerator’s 2022/2023 nonprofit cohort at the Core level. The organization will receive $50,000 in grant funding along with intense, focused, and customized support for up to three years.

Launched in 2014, the Accelerator, an initiative of the University’s Office of Civic Engagement, aims to equip both established and emerging community-based nonprofits and leaders with tools and resources to fulfill their unique missions. The program has helped develop and strengthen the capacity of more than 175 South Side community-focused nonprofit organizations to date.

Starting in 2019, Deeply Rooted participated in the Accelerator at the Associates level. The Accelerator has provided support for key developments within the organization including supporting the hiring of its first executive partner, redefining the structure of the artistic team which contributed to a dynamic succession plan, structuring job announcements, and developing a search plan and interviewing process, as well as an onboarding process which later served as a template for other positions.

The Accelerator also provided support for the Black Dance Legacy Project, of which Deeply Rooted is a founding partner. The project was launched in 2019 in partnership with UChicago’s Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, the Joyce Foundation, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to create a community of artists and give historically underfunded companies operational and financial support to help them reach wider audiences and safeguard their futures. 

As Deeply Rooted continues its current growth phase and prepares to hire additional full-time staff, the organization will work with the Accelerator on job descriptions, human resource structures, and managing and growing staff. The Accelerator will additionally support Deeply Rooted in building connections with potential partners within the University of Chicago campus community.

“This is a very critical two years for Deeply Rooted. If all goes well, we will have the grand opening for our South Side Center for Black Dance and Creative Communities in the spring of 2024,” Deeply Rooted Creative Director Kevin Iega Jeff says. “And to have somebody holding our hand through the constructing of the building, the visioning of its operations, and the understanding and dissecting of plans to raise funds so it can flourish into the future—man, it’s the best thing in the world to know we’ve got this partnership.”

The University welcomed 15 new South Side nonprofit organizations into the Accelerator on Wednesday, bringing the total number of organizations to be served in the coming year to 32.

The cohort announcement was made during the Accelerator’s inaugural South Side Strong Summit for local nonprofit professionals. The free day-long conference aimed to connect local nonprofit professionals with each other and the University; promote knowledge exchange on sector best practices and available resources; and ultimately accelerate the positive impact participating organizations have in their communities.

To learn more about UChicago’s Community Programs Accelerator, visit

Since 1996, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater has worked to reimagine and diversify the aesthetics of contemporary dance by uniting modern, classical, American, and African-American traditions in dance and storytelling. The organization cultivates a creative community dedicated to nurturing artists, advancing dance education, fostering collaboration, supporting human relationships, and sharing common values. With the support of the Accelerator, Deeply Rooted looks to establish its institutional home, the planned South Side Center for Black Dance and Creative Communities, in Washington Park.