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Neighborhood Enhancement Grant

Grant Secc

The Neighborhood Enhancement Grant Program is an initiative administered by the South East Chicago Commission (SECC) and sponsored by the Elizabeth Louise Smith Fund, the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference, the Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) and the Hyde Park Bank, A Wintrust Bank. The SECC awards grants to neighborhood organizations that support beautification projects to enhance the quality of life in our neighborhoods and allow us to work together as community partners for the improvement of all our areas.

The program is designed to enhance the physical attractiveness of the Hyde Park-South Kenwood, North Kenwood-Oakland, Woodlawn, and Washington Park communities. Since 1999, we have collectively granted nearly $500,000 in beautification funds.

“This is a great opportunity for all of us to work together as community partners to improve the aesthetics of our neighborhoods, strengthen civic pride, and enhance the quality of our urban living,” said Wendy Walker Williams, Executive Director of the SECC.

“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.”

The SECC provided grant assistance to neighborhood block groups, community organizations, school groups, park advisory councils and other organized groups with their beautification projects. Proposed projects were required to:

  • Be highly visible from the street
  • Be completed within a six-month time frame
  • Physically enhance the neighborhood and build on the character and uniqueness of the community
  • Strengthen civic pride and a strong sense of community
  • Be sustainable

Target Area: The target area includes the Oakland, Kenwood, Hyde Park, Woodlawn, and Washington Park communities.

For additional details about the grant, please review the links below.  

  • 2017 NEG Program Description (Download)
  • 2017 NEG Press Release - Award Announcement (Download)
  • NEG Impact Report 2016 (Download)
For 2017 the SECC awarded grants up to $3,000 per project.

The 2017 Neighborhood Enhancement Grant award recipients included:

  • 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 of 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)
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