South Shore, Englewood, Humboldt Park Groups Getting $2.7 Million

By posted April 15, 2022 on

“If we do this right, in two years these folks have the foundation and the skill set to keep the work moving forward,” Community Desk Chicago director Ja’Net Defell said.

SOUTH SHORE — A program offering money, knowledge and clout to three South and West Side community groups is aiming to help local leaders propel economic development in their neighborhoods.

The South Shore Chamber‘s community development corporation, Teamwork Englewood and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Humboldt Park are the first beneficiaries of the $2.7 million-Neighborhood Developers Initiative. It is run by Community Desk Chicago, a program through the Chicago Community Trust.

Each group will get nearly $900,000, Community Desk Chicago director Ja’Net Defell said. The money will be used as seed capital for a real estate project, to cover a development staffer’s salary for two years and to pay for project planning costs.

Beyond the funding, the initiative will help local leaders translate their ideas into action; connect them to philanthropists and city officials; and advocate for lenders to invest in the groups’ development projects, Defell said.

Business corridors in Chicago’s disinvested neighborhoods “have been looking the same way for as long as I can remember,” she said. “Until we can provide a vehicle and support to get these assets into the hands of the community, they’re not going to change.”

The groups selected to participate in the initiative weren’t required to have finalized proposals in place, as the first phase of the program focuses on building the skills necessary to successfully develop projects, Defell said.

“We’re not specifically asking them today what their project is for the Neighborhood Developers Initiative,” Defell said. “They can spend the time to go on the learning journey, then decide what they want to work on.”

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Photo: 7051 S. Bennett Ave. is a formerly blighted apartment building a group of South Shore residents renovated to revitalize the community. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago