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Eight Community Beautification Projects Awarded 2017 Neighborhood Enhancement Grants

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Eight Community Beautification Projects Awarded 2017 Neighborhood Enhancement Grants

CHICAGO (July 10, 2017) - The South East Chicago Commission (SECC) announced the eight winners of the 2017 Neighborhood Enhancement Grants. This year, to fund the grants, the SECC received a special dollar-for-dollar matching grant from the Elizabeth Louise “Betty Lou” Smith Fund, and established partnerships with the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference (HPKCC), Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), and the Hyde Park Bank, a Wintrust Bank.

The recipients of the grants will further the program’s goal of creating high-impact neighborhood beautification projects, as community schools, religious congregations, community organizations, park advisory councils, and block groups have done since the inception of the Neighborhood Enhancement Grant in 1999.

“This is one of many ways the SECC and our partners commit to improving the quality of life in our five footprint neighborhoods, and we could not be more pleased with the response from the community. We received 26 applications–up from 15 in 2016–for this year's Neighborhood Enhancement Grant program, so there is clearly a need and enthusiasm for community beautification projects,” said Wendy Walker Williams, SECC Executive Director.

The grant selection committee, comprised of community members from the five footprint neighborhoods, selected the following community groups for the strength of their proposals and the breadth of potential impact: 

Bixler Park Advisory Council: A placemaking project that will install two permanent chess tables with seating in a vacant space just south of the Bixler playlot, near 56th Street and South Kenwood Avenue, providing a much-needed table area for families and chess enthusiasts. (Hyde Park)

The Brickyard Garden: A NeighborSpace Garden, this project consists of a second raised garden bed for floral and vegetables near 61st Street and Woodlawn Avenue to provide free produce to the surrounding community. (Woodlawn).

Friends of 51st Street: The 51st Street and Calumet Avenue Mural Project will contribute to the revitalization of 51st Street with inspiring and colorful mural art to attract businesses and residents to the historic Washington Park community. (Washington Park)

HelloBaby: The play center HelloBaby, which opens on July 10, will install seven flower planters in front of the business strip at 61st Street and St. Lawrence Avenue. This project has sparked the property owner to revitalize the surrounding storefronts located on this corridor. (Woodlawn)

Midway Plaisance Advisory Council: In a high traffic area once considered unsafe, this project will plant over 200 flower bulbs on east and west sides of the Metra train tracks between 59th and 60th Streets to beautify this east end of the historic Midway. (Hyde Park/Woodlawn)

Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC): Nestled away in the Oakland and Kenwood communities, and often used by local daycares and small businesses, Park 43, is a project that will install new plantings, repair a broken fence, remove overgrown weeds, and paint two benches. Park 43 is located at 43rd Street and Forrestville Avenue. (Oakland/Kenwood)

Urban Juncture: “Green Boxville,” located at 51st Street and the CTA Green Line, is Chicago’s first street food market and container mall. The grant will support installation of two rooftop gardens on top of the shipping containers, demonstrating non-traditional ways to garden and introduce greenery to the community. (Washington Park)

William Hill Garden/Gallery: Once just an idea, the Woodlawn Botanical Nature Center is coming to life with native and botanical planting, fresh landscaping, and raised garden beds. The Woodlawn Botanical Nature Center is located at Hyde Park Academy High School, at 62nd Street and Stony Island Avenue. (Woodlawn)

“With so many amazing projects, it was not an easy task to select the final slate. The grant selection committee was truly inspired by the passion and dedication that all of the applicants bring to their communities. The impact and focus on long-term sustainable projects was prevalent in all of the proposals” stated Diane Burnham, Senior Program Manager at the SECC, who directly manages the grant program and selection process.

Please contact the South East Chicago Commission at 773-324-6926 or via email at diane@secc-chicago.org to learn more about the 2017 Neighborhood Enhancement Grant awardees and their projects.