Area groups look to cover West Side with positivity

Build, LISC planning fun fest in Austin on Aug. 24

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By Michael Romain

Editor

A local nonprofit is looking to blanket a portion of the West Side with positivity next month when it hosts its Summer of Opportunity on Aug. 17.

The nonprofit Build Chicago (short for Broad Urban Involvement & Leadership Development), which focuses on gang intervention, youth development and violence prevention, recently partnered with LISC Chicago's Hoops in the Hood summer initiative on the event, which was rescheduled from June 22 due to weather. 

Summer of Opportunity will include a mile-long parade, a barbecue, bounce houses, a climbing wall, art installations and the popular Hoops in the Hood basketball tournament, among other activities. Build Chicago officials said they expect around 5,000 people to attend.

"We're going to be on Harrison Street, between Laramie and Lavergne Avenues," said Adam Alonso, Build's executive director. "We're going to shut down Harrison Street and have a festival that day." 

Alonso said that the organization worked with the 15th District police department to identify areas that law enforcement officials would like them to focus on. 

"The biggest thing is that this brings folks together," Alonso said in a statement. "We want to provide these types of opportunities for our communities and young people. This really helps for blocks to come out and for kids to be kids and for the community help each other." 

Meghan Harte, the executive director of LISC Chicago (short for Local Initiatives Support Corporation), a community development organization, said that the Hoops in the Hood program has spread to 15 neighborhoods since LISC started it in 2006. 

"The benefit of this program is that it is neighborhood-created and neighborhood-driven," Harte said. "Each neighborhood has a slightly different approach in how they get people involved. That's because it's tailored to the community. Our goal is to expand it and make it year-round." 

Harte said that, in addition to being effective, the Hoops in the Hood program is also cost-efficient. She said it costs around $100,000 to reach and influence 5,000 young people in 15 communities across the city. 

"It's the cheapest youth engagement you can do and everybody loves it," she said.

Correction: A previous version of this article contained the wrong date for Summer of Opportunity. This article has since been updated. 

CONTACT: michael@austinweeklynews.com   

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