I Grow Chicago: Empowering the Community of Englewood
I Grow Chicago is a community-led organization whose programs closely align with Spark’s mission to provide sustainable solutions to lift communities out of poverty and empower future leaders. I Grow Chicago was founded in 2013 at the corner of 64th and Honore – in Chicago’s south side neighborhood of Englewood. From one woman’s idea to a whole neighborhood’s heart, I Grow Chicago is the story of people coming together and working for change. It’s a history of violence and trauma but also one of hope, resiliency and most of all, love.
With years of disinvestment and structural racism, Englewood had become an opportunity and resource desert, leading many into the street economy to survive. Children couldn’t play outside, and residents stayed in their homes out of fear.
Today, the Peace House stands at the same corner where the seed for I Grow Chicago was planted. It serves as the community center on the neighborhood’s Peace Campus – a gathering and healing zone made up of 6 previously vacant lots and 2 homes. This campus is home to nearly 15 different programs, all run by community members and volunteers that assist every generation of West Englewood. Residents learn the tools they need to stop violence before it starts, from how to take a deep breath before reacting, to how to apply for and succeed in jobs.
Spark Ventures provides funding to support I Grow Chicago’s “Born to Thrive” program. This program now provides in-person educational support for remote learning on the Peace Campus. Forty of the neighborhood’s most vulnerable children and teens receive technology and internet access, school supplies, social-emotional support, peer-to-peer activities, meals & snacks, transportation, and advocacy. Thanks in part to Spark’s support, I Grow Chicago has employed three community members to staff the “Born to Thrive” program. They are educating and advocating for children at a critical time, in a neighborhood where the barriers to virtual learning disproportionately affect students while schools are closed due to COVID-19.
Introducing SparkVenture’s Newest Partner: I Grow Chicago
We’re honored to support their programming, excited to expand our impact, and for the first time in Spark’s history – have the opportunity to engage with powerful partnership initiatives right here at home.
Support this work!
Empower future leaders.
Consider a contribution to help us provide in-person educational support to forty of the neighborhood’s most vulnerable children and teens. These eager learners receive technology and internet access, school supplies, social-emotional support, peer-to-peer activities, meals & snacks, transportation, and advocacy. The support from Spark Ventures helps employ three community members to staff the “Born to Thrive” program. This critical program is a lifeline for vulnerable students who might otherwise slip through the cracks.