Inside Chicago’s Neighborhoods with Andrea Zopp

On Tuesday, members of our United Way of Metro Chicago’s Tocqueville Society were invited to a breakfast with Deputy Mayor Andrea Zopp to discuss the challenges and assets in Chicago’s neighborhoods. “The single biggest challenge facing our neighborhoods is gun violence,” Deputy Mayor Zopp said. “We have to interrupt the violence and deal with it.”

When discussing United Way of Metro Chicago’s Neighborhood Network Initiative, Deputy Mayor Zopp noted that we are on the right track. “The only way to create sustainable change in our city is to go deep into neighborhoods, working with residents and community organizations, the way United Way is doing.”

Neighborhoods like the ones we work in every day—Austin, Auburn Gresham, Bronzeville, Brighton Park, Cicero, Evanston, Little Village, Robbins/Blue Island, South Chicago and West Chicago—have strong community-based organizations doing tremendous work. In addition, they have growing groups of engaged citizens that are committed to lasting change.

“If you can provide stability in a neighborhood they will come through and thrive on their own,” the deputy mayor said. “The work in neighborhoods allows people to have their own stake in changing the place they live.”

To tackle these challenges, Deputy Mayor Zopp encourages residents across the region to recognize the vibrancy in our most challenged neighborhoods and be willing to work together. “Being optimistic and focused can be hard work. We have to stay focused on the good things,” she said. “Dealing with gun violence is hard. Inequity is a hard issue. That doesn’t mean we can’t come together and work on it.”

She went even further to call on corporate and civic leaders to take action, too. “If we have significant areas in the city that are not thriving it impacts all of us—we pay for it in a variety of ways. It is worth it for all of us to think about how we invest in those areas.”

To learn more about United Way’s Tocqueville Society, visit www.uw-mc.org/tocqueville.