Our program begins in Bronzeville. Located on the southeast side of Chicago, Bronzeville is a community with a profound history. Once a culturally vibrant metropolis in which businesses thrived and the arts flourished, drawing many prominent figures to the area—e.g., Bessie Coleman (the first African American female pilot) and Louis Armstrong (legendary musician)—Bronzeville began to encounter a population decline in the 1960’s as housing restrictions in other areas of the city, and in the suburbs were lifted. This decline continued quite drastically for the following forty to fifty years. Due to this population decrease, and a combination of other factors, the industries in Bronzeville dwindled, withering its economy. As a result, Bronzeville has faced many of the challenges common to underserved communities—crime, failing schools, gangs. Though Bronzeville continues to struggle with some of those difficulties today, a community initiative to revitalize Bronzeville has begun to take hold.
In the coming years, we plan to expand our program to the communities of Englewood, Gresham, Garfield Park, Austin, and Pilsen, among others.