SJN Beautification Grant

Neighborhood Enhancement Since 1999


Shirley J. Newsome Beautification Program

The Neighborhood Enhancement Grant program is an initiative administered by the South East Chicago Commission (SECC). 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.

In 2023, the South East Chicago Commission (SECC)  renamed the Neighborhood Enhancement Grant, which will now be presented as the Shirley J. Newsome Beautification Program. Since 1999, more than $1,000,000 in grants have been awarded to over 200 community and faith-based organizations, block clubs, neighborhood schools, and park advisory councils to support neighborhood enhancement projects.

The grant application is open through Monday, April 10, 2023. The selected projects will receive grants of up to $5,000.  APPLY NOW


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 must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be highly visible from the street
  • Be completed between June 1st – November 10, 2023
  • 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


  • March 6

Application Opens 

  • April 10

Application Submission Deadline

  • April 17- 28

Review & Tour of Applicant Sights

  • May 12

A Night at the Theatre: A fundraising event

  • May 15

Awardees Announced 

  • June – November

Grant Period 


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: 

  • 2016 Ma’at will enhance the 53rd and Calumet site with the addition of several flower beds, a sitting area with tables and, enhancing its esthetics, adding split rail fencing to frame the garden. (Washington Park)
  • Friends of Ray PTO will be creating a natural play-space in the rundown and unused part of Ray school’s lot, located at 56th and Kimbark, using reclaimed wood and other natural materials to encourage open ended play, exploration, and physical development. (Hyde Park) 
  • Hyde Park Union Church, located on 56th and Woodlawn,will improve the visual impact of the lot, redesign foundation plantings, introduce more native and pollinator-friendly species, and replace infrastructure to create a more inviting façade for the entrance to our historic church, which is designated as contributing to the Hyde Park-Kenwood Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places (Hyde Park) 
  • Jessie “Ma” Houston Park Advisory Council plans to install 4 permanent chess tables to nurture a nascent interest in chess and diversify the activities at the park, located on 50th and Cottage Grove.​ 
  • Oakland Cultural Alliance will be building new concrete sculpture pads and installing the donated University of Chicago stone pavers utilizing community labor at the 41st and Lake Park location. (Oakland) 
  • William Hill Center for the Art will be creating unique pathways to view a collection of plant species utilizing wheelchair accessible pathways; along with making improvements for a sustainable butterfly garden on 63rd and Stony Island.​ (Woodlawn) 
  • YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, located on 66th and Cottage, will add a sensory garden to the site that will act as a source of calm, promote bodily awareness, support cognitive development, and improve communication and language skills.  (Washington Park/ Kenwood) 
Project Grants Awarded
Maximum Grant Award Amount
Communities Served

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