Five West Side organizations are poised to receive significant funding from two Chicago philanthropies. 

During press conference held Sept. 28 over Zoom, the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation and A Better Chicago announced that they’ll invest at least $2 million over three years in an inaugural cohort of grantees that have a variety of pilot programs and initiatives they’ll develop with the money. 

The Austin Childcare Providers Network is seeking to develop a pilot curriculum to enhance the pre-K to kindergarten experience of young people on the West Side. 

The Bloc provides a positive outlet for young people through boxing, mentoring and academic coaching. 

West Side United’s Cluster of Care Community Hub will provide students and families with comprehensive services within selected West Side schools. 

Firehouse Community Arts Center’s VIP Program will focus on providing skills training and employment opportunities for at-risk young adult men. 

And the MAAFA Redemption Project provides at-risk young adult men with comprehensive support — from leadership development and housing to employment opportunities.  

“Chicago has such a strong civic infrastructure made up of philanthropic, nonprofit, private and public sector leaders, and we hope this effort will inspire future collaboration across the sectors and other industries and spur more investments in leaders like our cohort of grantees.”  

Beth Swanson, the CEO of A Better Chicago — an organization the helps raise money through public donations and directs the funding to low-income, under-resourced communities — said she hopes the the collaboration with the Black Hawks Foundation “will inspire future collaboration across sectors and industries, and spur more investments in leaders like our cohort of grantees.”  

“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,” stated Sara Guderyahn, the executive director of the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation and vice president of Community for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during Monday’s Zoom press conference that the collaboration will work to address some of the systemic issues that the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated.  

“Over these past few months, the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the deep, generation fissures in the fabric of our city, which impacts access to healthcare, jobs, education, childcare and so much more,” she said. 

Ruth Kimble, the executive director of the Austin Childcare Provider Network, said on Monday that the collaboration’s funding will allow her to develop her pilot initiative “across the city … and to have this as a model, because it’s needed.” 

Marshall Hatch, Jr., who heads up the MAAFA Redemption Project, said that his organization’s long-term vision is that “residents here and now are still here” and that “we see structural changes necessary in the city.” 

Ayesha Jaco, West Side United’s executive director, said that the funding will help her organization meet its goal of “decreasing the 14-year life expectancy gap that exists between Chicago’s Loop and 10 West Side communities.”