A community, by definition, is a unified body of individuals. And LISC often describes its role as the connective tissue for such a body, working over the long haul to support the cohesion that makes for strong, flexible, lively communities. Nowhere is that connective bond more evident than in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, where LISC has been investing and playing a supporting role for nearly two decades.
Last year, Englewood hit a milestone, culminating from all those years of investment and community building: crime in a neighborhood once renowned for gang violence dropped to its lowest point in 17 years. And Englewood was awarded a $1 million Justice Department Community Based Crime Reduction (CBCR) grant, to advance the work. LISC is the national technical assistance provider for CBCR grants in 74 communities across the country.
The group at the heart of it all is Teamwork Englewood, founded in 2003 by LISC as part of the New Communities Program to unite the many organizations serving residents and working toward the common goal of a stronger neighborhood.
In the intervening years, LISC Chicago has invested $1 million in Teamwork Englewood to support organizing and development work, including two quality-of-life plans (one in 2005; another in 2016). Those plans have helped drive impressive economic development and neighborhood change, encompassing the construction of Englewood Square, which opened in 2016 with a Whole Foods, a Chipotle and other retail and services. LISC has also invested $600,000 in grant funding to community efforts that have emerged from the quality-of-life plans.
Inspired by the latest plan, Teamwork Englewood formed a public safety task force that includes residents, police officers, street outreach workers and case managers who hosted multiple events in 2017 to promote peace and healing in the community. Last year, homicides and shootings in Englewood declined by more than 40 percent compared to 2016 (the highest decrease of any police district in Chicago).
According to Team Englewood and others, LISC’s partnership and direct technical support helped to grow the neighborhood organization’s capacity to a point where they were able to secure the DOJ grant. The grant will help deepen the work of creating a safer, more connected place to live and do businesses.
Today, the transformation of Englewood, while still a work in progress, is felt on all levels of neighborhood life. “The major assets of our community lie in the spirit of the people: their resilience, commitment to community development, and their dedication to take on projects or issues that affect them,” said longtime resident Asiaha Butler. And with LISC’s support, the quality-of-life plan has been part of the connective tissue that helped focus that dedication and bring about change.
Photo credit: Gordon Walek
Private Sector Support
Public Sector Support
Executive Director: Meghan Harte
10 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1700
Chicago, IL 60606