On Saturday December 2nd 11AM-12:30PM, at Volunteers of America (6002 S. Halsted), the Englewood community will celebrate the one year anniversary of the Englewood Quality of Life Plan (EQLP). In April 2015, Englewood residents celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the 2005 Englewood Quality of Life Plan I. In January 2016, the community reconvened to begin the work of drafting an updated community-driven Quality of Life Plan. Attendees met to address issue areas deemed most important to the community. Each task force developed visions, goals and strategies to restore Englewood as one of Chicago’s leading communities. The steering committee convened, representing each aldermanic ward, business and community leaders. The result was a comprehensive plan focusing on Health & Wellness, Education & Youth Development, Jobs & Economic Development, Public Safety, and Housing & Public Spaces.
Since the EQLP’s inception, Teamwork Englewood has served as the lead convener. “Bringing the community together to plan and envision a brighter future is why Teamwork Englewood is very proud to take a proactive role in convening the stakeholders of Englewood. We can create a premiere community when we do it together.” Perry Gunn, Teamwork Englewood Executive Director. The planning and implementation has been a collaborative effort across various local organizations and agencies. These partners include, but are not limited to Chicago Public Schools Network 11, AARP, R.A.G.E- Residents Association of Greater Englewood, Mikva Challenge, Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce, Children’s Home & Aid, Inner City Muslim Action Network, St. Bernard Hospital, Voices of West Englewood, LaTanya & the Youth of Englewood, Southwest Federation Block Clubs of Greater Englewood, Heartland Health Alliance, Chicago Police Department 007th District, Whole Cities Foundations, and Grow Greater Englewood. Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago (LISC) and McCormick Foundation are the sponsors.
But collaboration extends beyond organizations. The EQLP touts a membership of over 200 committed Englewood and citywide residents. Since the regeneration of the EQLP, residents have responded to the call to lead these taskforces, and serve as the foot soldiers. For some, the EQLP is their first time being civically engaged. For others, they are continuing a legacy of service and activism, “I am continuing the work my late mother and late grandmother began as advocates for social justice, having walked with Dr. King and following the teachings of the Black Panther Party. I focus on Public Safety because of the violence I experienced as a child. I want a peaceful city, community, neighborhood and block. My legacy of civil rights activism instilled the value of servitude and citizenship into my attitude.” Ms. Coretta (CJ) Pruitt, EQLP Public Safety Taskforce Champion.
Over this first year, the EQLP has claimed many successes due to the hard work of Englewood’s residents and supporters. #EnglewoodRising is the marketing and rebranding campaign that showcases nuanced and positive images and narratives of Englewood that mainstream news outlets do not carry. The Health & Wellness Taskforce is developing the Health Navigators Resource Team, through a partnership with Heartland Health Alliance. It will educate and train residents on health issues and connect them with the best resources. Through support of the McCormick Foundation, members have created the Englewood Quality of Life Fund and Impact Englewood Fund to fund local projects. Jobs and Economic Development Taskforce promotes the Englewood Women’s Initiative, which is a collaboration across Chicago Foundation for Women, ACCION, JARC, Family Rescue, Metropolitan Family Services, Demoiselle 2 Femme, Chicago Women in Trades, and Women’s Business Development Center, to equip Englewood women to obtain economic security. And for the second year in a row, the Englewood Business Plan Competition, sponsored by Walter Robb, former CEO of Whole Foods, will grant ten finalists with cash prizes to advance their business.