'So much strength and passion': How an Englewood nonprofit is getting funds to strengthen neighborhood programs
CHICAGO (CBS) -- The COVID-19 pandemic is still exposing how many communities continue to struggle.
One Chicago neighborhood is getting a huge amount of help, through a new partnership. CBS 2's Steven Graves explains.
Cecile De Mello does the long work of leading nonprofit Teamwork Englewood because of a love for her home and three young children.
"I say to myself if I do a good job today, I'm one step closer making this a community where they can raise their family safely."
Another step happening this past March.
"As a convening group, we need help too."
When she and her team got the promise of a funding boost. For years, the group has stood on a quality of life plan, helping people and other organizations with housing - health and wellness.
But then - COVID hit the low-income south side neighborhood, which saw violence and inequities soar.
"New barriers we had around virtual learning, around workforce development we didn't have when we first thought about this plan."
So they drafted an adapted plan and sent it to nonprofit United Way.
"There are so many assets, there's so much strength and passion, an incredible track record of success," said United Way's Kimberlee Guenther.
The group has now added the area to its neighborhood network. Now, 13 Chicago neighborhoods will receive funds from a $5 million pot this year. An investment in Englewood over the next three years.
De Mello said money will also strengthen the good work already being done. Take the corner of 64th and Honore, for example. Where vacant homes are being transformed into community development spaces and turning vacant lots into safe spaces for kids.
"From a community development perspective, youth have been left out," De Mello said.
The money will also help organizations apply for grants.
"They do it without money for the most part, too. So imagine the impact they can do if their organizations were stronger and they can apply for more resources," De Mello said.
The proof of true teamwork playing out. United Way has invested about $25 million in the neighborhood network. This is the first time it has expanded in six years. The group also added the Garfield Park and far south areas.
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