Our ten Neighborhood Network Initiative communities—Austin, Auburn Gresham, Brighton Park, Bronzeville, Cicero, Evanston, Little Village, Robbins/Blue Island, South Chicago and West Chicago—continue to show signs of progress as they work toward developing a common agenda and bold goals for change in each neighborhood. Four of our neighborhoods have identified their bold goals and the other six are planning to have goals developed this winter. In each neighborhood, United Way has convened partners and provided additional investment and technical support in order to build stronger communities. Highlights include:
AmeriCorps Members in Neighborhood Network Communities
United Way of Metropolitan Chicago received a grant to fund 12 AmeriCorps members who will provide direct support for the Neighborhood Network Initiative. The members will be based in each of the communities and provide critical on-the-ground assistance for the next year as the Neighborhood Network communities work toward addressing their bold goals. AmeriCorps members will be begin to work with the lead partners and community members this month.
More than 100 volunteers from Wells Fargo spent a day in the Austin neighborhood for a Day of Caring as part of their support of the United Way Neighborhood Network Initiative in Austin. Volunteers worked with block clubs to landscape four vacant lots as part of a neighborhood revitalization project. The project transformed the litter-plagued lots into vibrant community gardens that will provide gardening opportunities and fresh produce for Austin residents.
United Way knows that healthy students are better learners, and at Cook Elementary in Auburn-Gresham, one in every four students is out of medical compliance with CPS standards—that means they’re not receiving physicals, dental care, vision exams or basic vaccinations. A new health clinic supported by UIC Medicine and our lead partner agency, the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation (GADC,) will open this fall to provide these critical services for students and parents. Summer Links students from University of Chicago’s Community Service Center helped to paint the new health center and then participated in a discussion on education in Chicago’s Public Schools with GADC’s Tenisha Jones, Cook’s Principal Narineh Gharashor, UIC Medicine’s Angela Ellison and United Way’s Iona Calhoun-Battiste. The students were happy to help prepare the health center to serve students and highly interested and engaged with the work taking place in Auburn-Gresham.
The Neighborhood Network in Cicero has seen great success with parent engagement in the community. Coalition leaders have engaged local parents as Community Ambassadors to help survey community residents on community needs, to participate in discussions on determining a bold goal and to help determine what programs and services are needed in the neighborhood. On October 13th, the Neighborhood Network partners held a community breakfast at the Cicero Community Center to discuss the efforts of the Neighborhood Network and plans to announce the survey results and bold goal in November.
The communities of Brighton Park, Bronzeville, Evanston, Little Village, Robbins/Blue Island, South Chicago and West Chicago continue to refine their goals and strategies as we work together to build stronger communities across the region.