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RELEASE: Blackhawks Foundation, A Better Chicago Launch 'One West Side'

Three-year initiative to invest at least $2 million in leaders from Chicago's West Side in efforts to create greater opportunity for youth in their own communities

by Chicago Blackhawks Communications /

The Chicago Blackhawks Foundation and A Better Chicago announced the inaugural cohort of grantees today to launch a new partnership focused on equipping local leaders and fueling programs and services that enable Chicago's youth to thrive at all stages of life.

The partnership, One West Side, is a three-year initiative that will invest at least $2 million over three years in Chicago's West Side, which includes some of the city's underserved and under-resourced neighborhoods.

"We are so excited to launch this partnership with the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation and support this inaugural cohort of grantees," said A Better Chicago CEO Beth Swanson. "One West Side is an example of how we will focus on investing in community-based, high-impact initiatives. These organizations were developed in the same communities they serve - communities most impacted by systemic racism and the current pandemic, communities that have dealt with systemic inequities for far too long. This inaugural group of leaders is already doing powerful work to empower youth in their neighborhoods, and this investment will allow them to deepen and expand their efforts."

One West Side is focused on strengthening organizations deeply embedded in their communities with exceptional leaders poised to expand their impact. Collectively, the selected grantees reach Chicagoans at every stage of life - from birth to young adulthood - supporting education, social-emotional learning, mentorship opportunities, skills training and leadership development. The inaugural cohort of One West Side grantees includes:

  • Austin Childcare Providers Network: Under the leadership of Ruth Kimble, Austin Childcare Providers Network is developing a collaborative pilot to ensure that children leave early childcare providers ready for kindergarten by creating continuity of learning and practice among childcare (pre-K) providers and elementary schools.  
  • The Bloc: Founded by Jamyle Cannon, The Bloc provides a meaningful physical outlet for youth through boxing as well as academic coaching and mentoring.  
  • Cluster of Care Community Hub (West Side United): An initiative of West Side United under the leadership of Ayesha Jaco and Tenisha Jones, the Hub will provide students and their families with wraparound services and resources conveniently located within the school building.  
  • VIP Program (Firehouse Community Arts Center): Through the VIP Program, Phil Jackson and the Firehouse Community Art Center is focused on the prevention and interruption of violence by providing young adult men who are often perpetrators of violence with mentorship, leadership development and access to skills training and job opportunities.  
  • MAAFA Redemption Project: Under the leadership of Marshall Hatch, the MAAFA Redemption Project is an initiative in West Garfield Park that provides at-risk emerging adult men with leadership development, employment, housing and a host of customized wraparound supports to meet the unique needs of each participant.  

"One West Side is about coming together to invest in those who know their communities best: leaders from the West Side, creating opportunity for the West Side," said Sara Guderyahn, Executive Director of the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation and Vice President of Community for the Chicago Blackhawks. "This initiative pairs the incredible platform of professional sports with A Better Chicago's philanthropic expertise and management resources to support our neighbors who share in the Blackhawks' deep commitment to the communities around the United Center." 

A Better Chicago and the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation will officially launch the One West Side partnership at noon on Monday, September 28, in a virtual panel discussion featuring each of the leaders and moderated by Chicago Blackhawks Community Liaison and former player Jamal Mayers.

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