See all Articles

Celebrating A Year of One West Side

Written by A Better Chicago on Sep 1, 2021


Recently, we celebrated one year of our partnership. We launched this initiative with the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation to support young Black and Latinx Chicagoans on the West Side at all stages of their lives. The partnership will invest at least $2 million in grant dollars and capacity-building support over three years in community-based nonprofits and leaders focused on empowering underserved youth on the West Side. Through this effort, we are equipping local leaders and fueling proven programs and services in some of Chicago’s most under-resourced neighborhoods. Our One West Side grantees include the Austin Childcare Providers Network (ACPN), the Bloc, Firehouse Community Arts Center (Firehouse), the MAAFA Redemption Project (MAAFA), and West Side United (WSU).  

In its first year, One West Side has invested more than $600,000 through unrestricted grants and management support. The initiative has also gained immense support from the Chicago community, including United Airlines who has joined the collaborative, bringing additional strategic and pro bono support to our grantees. 

Over the past year, our grantees have continued to work hard in their shared commitment to serve and uplift Chicago’s West Side. 

  • ACPN, lead by Ruth Kimble, has been working with key collaborators to plan for the start of the Kindergarten Transition pilot, launching with seven providers to serve 100+ pre-K students in the Austin neighborhood this fall. 

  • MAAFA, led by Marshall Hatch Jr., was featured at the Tribeca Film Festival in the documentary All These Sons that features Marshall and participants from MAAFA’s third cohort (the organization is now serving its fifth cohort). MAAFA is also expanding residential offerings for their participants as COVID-19 limited the number of fellows housed last year. They plan to increase residential options and supplementary programs, including an arts center currently under construction.

The last year for The Bloc was a huge year of growth. The organization, led by Jamyle Cannon, found a new home for programming in West Humboldt. During the first year of the pandemic, The Bloc provided academic support to students that needed a place to join classes and do work. Now returning to steady-state programming, they have seen numbers double from the spring to summer and will be wrapping up the year with plans to launch a strategic plan and develop a strategy to expand programming.

  • WSU chose Herzl Elementary as the Cluster of Care Hub (The Hub) location site, and the team launched a food pantry as an early-action project in the spring to support the school community. The Hub is launching this fall and the organization, led by Ayesha Jaco, is excited to provide additional health services and opportunities to the Herzl school community. 

  • Firehouse is working to codify its curriculum and support for young people. Excitingly, the team is back to hosting in-person events like FireFest and open mic nights to provide space for creative output and for the community to gather. Pastor Phil and the Firehouse team have been extremely active in community support and outreach following violent interactions in North Lawndale. They have provided much-needed emotional support and guidance to underserved, marginalized members of the community throughout overlapping crises. 

We were proud to celebrate the impact of this collaboration with our partners, grantees, and supporters, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot, at the One West Side Block Party. This back-to-school event not only had fun activities and a supply giveaway for students, but it also was an opportunity for attendees to experience our grantees in action. The special day included a boxing demonstration led by The Bloc and delicious food catered by the Firehouse Community Arts Center. We were thrilled to bring the community together to honor the fantastic work being done by these five outstanding organizations and look forward to the impact we can make together as we expand this effort in the years to come.

See all Articles