February 2016 22nd Annual CNDA Celebrate the strength of communities at the 22nd Annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards on Thursday, Februar

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February 2016

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22nd Annual CNDA

Celebrate the strength of communities at the 22nd Annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards on Thursday, February 18, at the Chicago Hilton. At 3 p.m., panelists Jack Markowski, Amisha Patel, and Raul Raymundo will have a wide-ranging discussion about different perspectives in community development. Moderator Brandis Friedman of WTTW's Chicago Tonight will keep the conversation focused. The formal award presentations recognizing the best in class community development and featuring keynote remarks from Julia Stasch, president of the MacArthur Foundation, follow at 4:30 p.m., with the best community development cocktail reception in the country beginning at 6 p.m. If you haven't already registered, do so now.

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A new stage for Belmont Cragin

More than 200 residents and other community stakeholders gathered recently at Belmont Cragin Elementary School for an event that was part design charrette and part talent show – with a bit of tent revival meeting thrown in for good measure. The final community meeting to create a Belmont Cragin quality-of-life plan could have served as the dictionary definition for a big chunk of the letter E: Enthusiasm. Engagement. Entertainment. Energy. It even dipped into the letter D: Democracy. See what they've accomplished...

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Chicago Plans 2015 ends...Chicago Plans 2016 begins

As participants in Chicago Plans 2015 conclude their workshops, a new set of community leaders is applying for the Chicago Plans 2016 sessions, which are designed to empower community leaders with the skills they need to devise, execute and participate in planning initiatives in neighborhoods across the city. The effort is led by LISC Chicago and funded by The Chicago Community Trust. Applications are open now for the next session. Read all about it...


Civic tech done right...

Neighborhood organizers and software developers don’t ordinarily move in the same circles. But in Chicago, thanks to some tool-hungry community organizers and neighborhood-oriented software developers, a couple of computer applications have emerged that are enabling neighborhood residents to play a greater role in improving their communities.
This is a story told from the perspective of Derek Eder, project manager at the civic technology company DataMade; Taryn Roch, LISC Chicago’s Director of Program Assessment; and Andrea Ortez, an organizer for the Southwest Organizing Project in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood about how they drew on community organizing and tech skills to make neighborhoods better and stronger. Here's how they did it...

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AmeriCorps MLK day of service

Braving frigid temperatures, eight LISC AmeriCorps volunteers honored the civil rights leader by teaching digital literacy to adults and seniors at The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in West Pullman. It’s an extension of the work the volunteers do on a day-to-day basis at their Financial Opportunity Centers, where they help clients use job search sites, polish their resumes and refresh basic computer skills. This played into the agenda on January 18th, which tackled social media, job search, video and music skills. Here are the details....

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New National LISC website

Speaking of service, national LISC recently unveiled a new website. It's a beauty, featuring a clean design, large and beautiful photographs, and a number of stories describing the remarkable depth and variety of LISC community development initiatives across the country. Check it out...

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Gone but not forgotten

While we're on the service theme, hardly anyone has provided more of it to LISC over the years than Keri Blackwell. Keri (second from left) began her career at the national LISC office in New York. She then brought her formidable talents to Chicago, where she quickly climbed the ranks, becoming the office's deputy director. Her duties and accomplishments at LISC Chicago are too numerous to mention here, but she carved out a special niche in sports programming, including the highly successful Hoops in the Hood basketball program, the historic Spring into Sports citywide competition, and a partnership with the Chicago Cubs Charities Diamond Project to build or refurbish community baseball fields throughout the city. So engaging is the Cubs program that Keri is taking her organizing skills to the North Side team. Sorry to see her go, but comforting to know she's no further away than the Friendly Confines. Good luck, Keri. We'll miss you.

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