CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - February 15, 2017) - L-Evated Chicago -- a new collaborative that will use existing transit to create hubs of opportunity -- today announced that Chicago was selected to join the Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC). SPARCC is a three-year, $90 million initiative that will bolster local groups and leaders in six cities in their efforts to ensure that major new investments in transportation, housing, health, and sustainability are made in ways that improve equity, health, and environmental outcomes for all residents.
L-Evated Chicago is a diverse collaborative representing community-based and civic organizations, nonprofit policy and advocacy groups, community development financial institutions, and the City of Chicago. The collaborative is committed to transforming the half-mile radius around transit stations into hubs of opportunity and connection across our region's vast transit system. L-Evated Chicago views station areas as optimal locations for planning, programming, urban design, and development to address the region's deeply rooted disparities in racial equity, public health, and climate resiliency. L-Evated Chicago will align capital, policy, and programmatic resources with the unique interests and needs of communities.
The SPARCC initiative chose L-Evated Chicago following a competitive application process in 2016. The collaborative has been awarded $1 million in direct grant and technical assistance funds over the next three years. Collectively, the six national SPARCC sites will have access to $70 million of financing and $14 million in additional programmatic support. The initial six SPARCC sites include: Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Memphis, and San Francisco Bay Area.
These funds offer the opportunity to align and leverage several new local initiatives -- such as the City of Chicago's Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus program that leverages investment in downtown to support redevelopment in the neighborhoods; the City Treasurer's Chicago Community Catalyst Fund to invest $100 million in projects and businesses in underserved neighborhoods; and the Chicago Community Trust's new strategic focus on race and equity.
"We have great community resources on the south side along the Green line. We have a vibrant arts and culture scene -- and nothing less than a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the Obama Presidential Library," said Ghian Foreman, head of the Washington Park Development Group and one of the eight groups that comprise L-Evated Chicago. "With the SPARCC initiative, we will be able to reach further into our communities to make sure future investments build on and respect our existing community efforts and assets."
In addition to neighborhoods within a half-mile radius of the Green line south, L-Evated Chicago will focus its outreach and development efforts on communities near the Green line west, Blue line northwest, and Pink line southwest.
"Chicago's long history of racial and economic segregation is no secret, and past investment decisions and policies have too often reinforced that segregation," said Juan Carlos Linares, executive director of Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA), a member of L-Evated Chicago. "By working both within and across our communities -- and leveraging our transit system to enhance and connect our efforts -- our SPARCC collaboration with community stakeholders will serve as an important tool to reverse that legacy and advance a more equitable and prosperous Chicago."
Other members of L-Evated Chicago include: The Chicago Community Trust, where the initiative will be housed; Enterprise Community Partners Chicago and IFF, both local nonprofit lenders; Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Metropolitan Planning Council, leading policy and planning groups; University of Chicago Arts and Public Life, an arts and culture community partner; and the City of Chicago Department of Public Health.
"In the past, policy, programmatic, and site-specific decisions about how and where to invest have been done in silos and all too often led to deeper poverty, disinvestment, and health risks for people of color and low-income communities," said Dr. Julie Morita, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. "This is a critical moment when significant health, transit, and real estate investments are coming, or are already underway, and people of all races and incomes can benefit. We are excited to have Chicago as one of the SPARCC sites and look forward to seeing the results of these efforts to positively impact our city."
"The threats from climate change are being borne largely by low-income people and communities of color," said Shelley Poticha, director of urban solutions at the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the national partners of SPARCC. "If we continue business as usual, health and economic disparities like this will continue to grow. Our SPARCC cities and regions are helping to change that by creating a vision of opportunity that takes community revitalization to a new level."
In addition to funding support, each SPARCC site has access to an extensive learning network and advisory services from a range of experts to help advance local efforts.
SPARCC is an initiative of Enterprise Community Partners, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Low Income Investment Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, with funding support from the Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and The California Endowment. Long term, SPARCC's intention is for other cities, communities, and regions to adopt similar approaches to achieving more just economic, health, and environmental outcomes, using the success of SPARCC sites as a model.
About L-Evated Chicago
L-Evated Chicago is a partnership of organizations committed to transforming the half-mile radius around transit stations into hubs of opportunity and connection across our region's vast transit system. We view station areas as the optimal location for planning, programming, urban design and development to converge to address the region's deeply rooted disparities in racial equity, public health, and climate resiliency. L-Evated Chicago's founding partners are: The Chicago Community Trust, Enterprise Community Partners Chicago, IFF, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Metropolitan Planning Council, City of Chicago Department of Public Health, Latin United Community Housing Association, Washington Park Development Group, and Arts + Public Life.
The Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge -- or SPARCC -- is supporting local efforts to make sure that everyone benefits from major new investments in the places we live, work, and play. By supporting locally driven initiatives, SPARCC aims to improve equity, health, and environmental outcomes to positively shape our cities and regions for generations. SPARCC is an initiative of Enterprise Community Partners, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Low Income Investment Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, with funding support from the Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and The California Endowment.
For more information on SPARCC and the selected jurisdictions, please visit sparcchub.org.