MacArthur foundation gives $26 million to bolster Chicago neighborhoods

Carlos Nelson

An initiative aimed at revitalizing 16 Chicago neighborhoods received $26 million Tuesday from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The grant will support the New Communities Program, run by the Chicago office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

“It’s a huge thing,” said Carlos Nelson, executive director of the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corp., one of 14 agencies under the umbrella of the New Communities Program. “This allows things to happen from the bottom up. Instead of the City Council saying, ‘This needs to be done,’ community organizations are empowered to make things happen.”

MacArthur president Jonathan Fanton announced the gift, to be used over a five-year span, in a lot near the Auburn Gresham Center for Working Families, 7909 S Racine. He expects it will generate $500 million in new investment for the communities.

MacArthur has given $21 million to LISC for its Chicago programs since 2002, so far generating $255 million in local investment, the organization reports.

Mayor Richard M. Daley also spoke at the event. Because Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, he said, “the way to keep our city moving forward is to make our neighborhoods even stronger.”

“The people with the best understanding of a neighborhood’s needs are the people who live there,” he said.

The neighborhoods to benefit from MacArthur’s largesse are: Auburn Gresham, Chicago Lawn, Douglas, Grand Boulevard, North Kenwood-Oakland, East Garfield, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Little Village (South Lawndale), Logan Square, North Lawndale, Pilsen (Lower West Side), South Chicago, Washington Park, West Haven (Near West Side) and Woodlawn.

Mayor Daley with community members Kids at MacArthur Foundation announcement

Auburn-Gresham New initiatives

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