Nine Community Beautification Grants Awarded

Nine Community Beautification Grants Awarded

The South East Chicago Commission (SECC) announced the nine project awards for the 2018 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. Since 1999, the program has offered funds to neighborhood schools, religious congregations, community organizations, park advisory councils, and block groups to support the program’s goal of creating high-impact neighborhood beautification projects.

“The SECC and our partners are committed to improving the quality of life in the southeast lakefront   neighborhoods, and we could not be more pleased with the response from the community. We received 18 applications for this year’s Neighborhood Enhancement Grant program, so there is clearly a need and enthusiasm for community beautification projects,” said Diane Burnham, Executive Director of the SECC

For 2018, the SECC announced that the Friends of Ray School, Native Plants and Tree Project, has been selected for the special project award in Memory of Stephen J. Albert, the former Executive Director of the Court Theater, who passed away this past year. For the past three years, the Court Theater has been one of the SECC’s in-kind sponsors of the Neighborhood Enhancement Grant Program.

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:

  • 41st & Ellis Block Club– Together We Grown Garden project will work to clean up a much-needed vacant lot and plant raised garden beds near E. 42nd and S. Ellis Streets(Oakland)
  • Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park– Welcoming Western Entrance Beautification Plan will develop a highly visible garden strip by planting a beautiful hosta garden at E. 55th and S. Woodlawn Streets (Hyde Park)
  • Chicago Eco House- Peach Tree Park will work to develop a blighted vacant lot at E. 60th and S. Vernon Street by doing the vacant lot clean up, planting peach tree saplings, and raised flower beds, creating a “pocket park” community space. (Woodlawn)
  • Chicago Public Arts Group (CPAG)– Childhood Is Without Prejudice Mural Restoration will work to restore and revitalize William Walker’s iconic mural, originally created in 1977as a tribute to nearby Bret Harte School, is located at the E. 56th and S. Stony Island underpass. (Hyde Park)
  • The Kleo Center– Kleo Barrett Memorial Mural Project will honor the life and legacy of Kleo Barrett for whom the organization was named. The design includes open palms which symbolize welcoming and a sense of safety. (Washington Park)
  • Midway Plaisance Advisory Council – Hillside Beautification Project is located in a high traffic area once considered unsafe, this project will plant an additional 3000 flower bulbs on east and west sides of the Metra train tracks  to beautify this east end of the historic Midway. (Hyde Park/Woodlawn)
  • Nichols Park Advisory Council– 55th Street Fountain & Floral Bed Enhancement project will work to improve and enhance the park fountain with landscaping and floral planting to create a welcoming south entrance to the park at East 55th Street. (Hyde Park)
  • Oakland Cultural Alliance– Oakland Museum and Garden Preservation will work to preserve several at-risk sculptural artworks created by well-known sculptor and teacher, Milton Mizenburg, Jr., who after 25 years of creating art, passed away in 2016. (Oakland)
  • Friends of Ray School-Native Plants & Tree Project has been selected for the special project award in Memory of Stephen J. Albert, the former Executive Director of the Court Theater, who passed away this past year. This project will plant seven new large trees on the north and east playgrounds and removal of dead trees in partnership with Openlands, an organization that works to protect land for public parks and forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, urban farms, and community gardens. (Hyde Park)

Please contact the South East Chicago Commission at 773-324-6926 or via email at to learn more about the 2018 Neighborhood Enhancement Grant awardees and their projects.