Chicago’s West Side is home to world-class medical institutions, a community college, historic architecture, cultural assets, and organizations and residents deeply committed to their neighborhoods. Anchored by Garfield Park, Legler Library, and the Garfield Park Conservatory, it is a place where an active, engaged, and experienced network of residents are working together to build the communities that they want and need.
At the heart of it all is West Garfield Park – just six miles from Chicago’s prosperous downtown, yet it can feel like a world away. The potential of this community is challenged by a history of disinvestment. Today the community lacks many basic necessities like access to health care, banking, and fresh food. The streets that once housed bustling marketplaces now face high rates of vacancy and high rates of un-and-under-employment. Together these factors not only limit West Garfield Park residents’ ability to access work and wealth, they have also dramatically lowered their life expectancy compared with residents of other Chicago neighborhoods.
But change has already begun. Out of a community of neighbors, passionate and optimistic about West Garfield Park, a groundbreaking coalition has formed with a bold vision and sophisticated plan for change. Together, they are creating “a place where residents young and old have safe, and well-resourced spaces. Where life is not just lived, but lived abundantly,” said Marshall Hatch Jr., executive director of The MAAFA Redemption Project.
Today, we are proud to announce that the Sankofa Wellness Village in West Garfield Park is the recipient of the 2022 Chicago Prize. This plan will provide residents with the foundational resources essential to thrive. We are pleased to support this $50 million project with the Chicago Prize’s $10 million grant.
- The Sankofa Village Wellness Center will provide West Garfield Park’s more than 17,000 residents with health care and wellness programs, before and after-school care, and create quality jobs. Erie Family Health Center plans to provide more than 6,000 patients annually with comprehensive health care services. Through a partnership with the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, thousands of people will have access to fitness activities and childcare programs.
- A new credit union will help 10,000 residents open a bank account, thereby providing strengthened economic security and mobility.
- The MAAFA Center for Arts and Activism will offer access to artistic expression and job training. This will result in hundreds of residents having better access to well-paying jobs.
- A new facility called The K will provide best-in-class entrepreneurial support to help residents start and grow wealth-creating businesses.
- A Community Grocer Initiative will manage pop-up grocery markets to provide access to fresh, healthy food until a permanent grocery store opens.
In the near term, these collective investments will ensure that residents have essential access to the core resources they need to build healthy and prosperous lives for themselves and their families. Over the long run, this endeavor can make generational change by increasing the average life expectancy of the residents of West Garfield Park from 69 years of age – currently one of the lowest in the city.
Taking the Lead: Garfield Park Rite to Wellness Collaborative
To lead this remarkable undertaking, the neighborhood has assembled a unique coalition called the Garfield Park Rite to Wellness Collaborative. This collaborative includes New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, West Side United, and the Community Builders as well as important health and nonprofit partners: Rush University Medical Center, Erie Family Health Centers, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, and others. These organizations alongside community residents represent a powerful new coalition that will drive positive change and outcomes in communities of color throughout Chicago. The investment made with the Chicago Prize 2022 award will support this dynamic coalition and strengthen its foundation for generations to come.
“With the support from the Chicago Prize, the Garfield Park Rite to Wellness Collaborative seeks to accelerate its continued efforts to build and sustain a stronger, healthier community where all residents can thrive,” said Kemena Brooks, development director for The Community Builders.
Ambitious. Collaborative. Accomplished.
The Sankofa Wellness Village proposal reflects the highest aspirations of the Chicago Prize – an ambitious plan, a collaborative and capable team, and a thoughtful strategy to continue to build a strong West Garfield Park community. With the first major investment in West Garfield Park in more than 50 years, this effort builds upon many civic and cultural institutions like New Mount Pilgrim Church, Garfield Park Conservatory, and Legler Library, and sets the stage for additional investment in the years to come.
We are proud to partner with the Garfield Park Rite to Wellness Collaborative on this important undertaking in bridging the West Side of Chicago to a brighter future and invite others to do the same.
Please reach out to the team or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how to get involved.
Meet the Chicago Prize 2022 Finalists
All the Chicago Prize finalists have bold, inspirational plans for a better Chicago, starting in their own communities. We encourage you to explore their proposals and learn how to directly support their work.