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Sol Flores, Director of La Casa Norte, Wins Prestigious Leadership Award
Award Recognizes Instrumental Leadership in Community Development

For high resolution photos please visit: http://bit.ly/zwYhg8
For video clips please visit: http://clients.anglepark.com/cnda/

CHICAGO (March 1, 2012)— Sol Flores, founding executive director of La Casa Norte (LCN), which provides assistance to youth and families that are homeless or at risk of becoming so, was awarded the 2011 PrivateBank Norman Bobins Leadership Award at the 18th annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA), managed by Local Initiatives Support Corporation/Chicago (LISC Chicago). Each year the award honors an exceptional emerging leader in the community development field.

Flores learned early on the importance of compassion and giving back. Her grandparents, Puerto Rican immigrants, raised hundreds of foster children, ensuring that Flores never lacked for company growing up on Chicago’s Near West Side. A house full of kids taught Flores to be kind, and to always make her voice heard.

Those early lessons, combined with a contagious enthusiasm and endless energy, led Flores to help found LCN in 2002. The organization began as a crisis management and job skills center, but four years later built its first housing facility.

Since 2002 the organization has helped thousands of vulnerable young people and families in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. Under Flores’s leadership, LCN has grown from a small outfit with three employees to a thriving organization that provides housing, advocacy services, counseling, and job training to a primarily Latino population.

LCN works four main avenues. Casa Corazon provides street outreach and a drop-in center to help West Side youth move from the streets into more stable housing, employment and educational situations. The Crisis Center Program offers bilingual and culturally sensitive case management, support and emergency funds to help individuals and families that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The Esperanza Trabajando program focuses on job readiness, placement and training.

One of LCN’s crowning achievements was the 2009 opening of the Solid Ground Supportive Housing Program – permanent housing for homeless male youth that provides both a roof and individual services with the warmth, comfort and safety of a home. LCN undertook a total renovation of an existing building to create a facility that now offers young men individual bedrooms, counseling, a computer lab, private telephones and a closet of donated ties and jackets—all in a bilingual environment. Flores says that in addition to a roof and companionship, Solid Ground and LCN’s other programs offer, above all, a second chance. Solid Ground was awarded a Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in 2008.

Flores says that she would someday like to expand LCN’s housing options to also serve young women and families.

“There is an ever growing number of homeless youth and families in our city and not enough services to reach them,” said Flores. “Our programs are geared toward providing these neighborhood residents with stability and opportunity, and helping those that so often fall through the cracks in the system, particularly youths and Latinos.”

Flores has won wide city and national recognition for her community work with LCN. She is recognized as a powerful and effective advocate for creating more housing facilities and fighting homelessness.

"There is a very specific set of skills needed to conceive of a program and get it off the ground,” said Hipolito (Paul) Roldan, president and chief executive officer of Hispanic Housing Development Corporation. “But there also comes a stage where imagination and a broader vision need to take hold. It’s not very often that you find all those qualities or qualifications in the one person. Sol very much embodies all those qualities."

La Casa Norte empowers families and young people to take control of dire circumstances and most of all, regain hope.

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; Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; MB Financial Bank; 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.

For high resolution photos please visit: http://bit.ly/zwYhg8
For video clips please visit: http://clients.anglepark.com/cnda/