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Enlace Chicago Wins Chicago Community Trust Outstanding Community
Strategy of the Year Award

Violence Prevention program recognized as best creative community outreach strategy

CHICAGO (February 28, 2012) – For its Violence Prevention programs, Enlace Chicago, a Little Village-based community development organization, has been named the 2012 Chicago Community Trust Outstanding Community Strategy of the Year at the 18th annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA), managed by Local Initiatives Support Corporation/Chicago (LISC Chicago).

The award is given each year to a non-profit organization in recognition of a holistic effort that promotes the comprehensive development of an entire community.

Little Village’s youthful population – the youngest of any Chicago neighborhood –contributes to the neighborhood’s vitality. But roughly 2,000 Little Village youth are believed to be involved in gangs, which are the source of street violence. Enlace—formerly the Little Village Community Development Corporation—realized that a comprehensive and innovative approach to healing the neighborhood was needed. Building on 10 years of work with the Violence Prevention Collaborative, Enlace developed six initiatives that now comprise the Violence Prevention programs.

Bilingual safety networks, community watch and “safe passage” programs compel greater community involvement and reinforce the notion that neighborhood safety is everyone’s responsibility. Mentorship and advocacy programs provide internships, social services and employment opportunities. Sports and educational programming are available during the evenings, weekends and summer. These programs, in conjunction with a partnership with the renowned Ceasefire organization, provide meaningful help and alternatives for young people.
The multi-pronged approach involves all community stakeholders– from youth, to parents, to schools, employers and institutions.
“Our work in Little Village taught us that it was important to create not a single program, but a set of them,” said Michael D. Rodriguez, executive director of Enlace Chicago. “Our programs work because they work together—engaging youth, parents, government officials and community organizations, and focusing not only on violence prevention but also on community enrichment, educational improvement and economic development.”
Enlace has actively recruited youth formerly involved in violence and placed them in positive, community-building roles in which they are encouraged to pursue internships and summer jobs as well as to consider postsecondary education. To see how the agency’s engagement techniques have proven successful, look no further than the youth participation in the creation of Silver Skate Plaza, a community skateboarding park. 

Enlace’s efforts have met with success in Little Village. A Ceasefire Week drew 3,000 people to events focused on violence prevention, and the area’s shootings decreased from 21 to eight between 2010 and 2011. Through holistic engagement, Enlace has empowered and enabled an entire neighborhood.

About CNDA

This year’s ceremony, held at the Chicago Hilton & Towers, attracted more than 1400 people, including CNDA chair Wim Elfrink, executive vice president and chief globalization officer of Cisco, and leaders of Chicago’s non-profit, corporate and philanthropic sectors.  A forum, following a fast-paced presentation style, was held prior to the award ceremony. Four city leaders from varying fields presented their five big ideas for making the 21st century city.

Established in 1995, CNDA recognizes outstanding achievements in neighborhood real estate development and community building, especially the achievements of community development corporations, other community-based organizations, and for-profit developers working to build healthier neighborhoods in the Chicago metropolitan area.  Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago (LISC Chicago) manages the awards, in keeping with its mission to combine corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize city neighborhoods. LISC Chicago has invested $179 million in local comprehensive development programs, leveraging an additional $4.7 billion in community investment from other sources. The result is 29,000 units of affordable housing, over 5 million square feet of commercial space, and a variety of social and economic development programs.

“Community development is a complicated business and requires the participation of many people and institutions – from neighborhood residents to government officials, corporate leaders, developers and architects,” said Susana L. Vasquez, LISC Chicago’s executive director. “Our purpose at the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards is to acknowledge and celebrate those individuals and organizations whose ingenuity and creativity make Chicago such a great city.”
This year’s awards are generously underwritten by:

Allstate; Bank of America; BMO Harris Bank; Charter One; Chase; The Chicago Community Trust; Cisco; Citi; LISC/Chicago; Northern Trust; PNC; Polk Bros. Foundation; The Private Bank; The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; State Farm; US Bank; Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen, PC; Brinshore Development; Camiros, Ltd.; Chicago Bears; Chicago Community Loan Fund; Cole Taylor Bank; Community Reinvestment Fund; Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.; Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago; Fifth Third Bank ; FirstMerit Bank; The Habitat Company; Holsten Real Estate Development; Illinois Housing Development Authority; MB Financial Bank; Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; Matanky Realty; Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C.; National Equity Fund; Reznick Group; Teska Associates, Inc.; Urban Development Fund, LLC; Urban Partnership Bank; and The Walsh Group.

For more information, visit www.lisc-cnda.org.