The Greater Chatham Initiative was born from a comprehensive plan for economic growth and neighborhood vitality (The Plan). Our mission is to strategically invest (consistent with The Plan) in the Chicago communities of Chatham, Greater Grand Crossing, Avalon Park, and Auburn Gresham so they can re-emerge as communities of opportunity and choice.

About Us

Historically, the Chatham neighborhood’s residential and economic stability has been both a beacon and an anchor for Chicago’s south side, which bodes well for Chicago as a whole.

In recent years, Greater Chatham has been confronting new challenges: the number of middle-income jobs in the US economy has shrunk, including middle-wage public sector jobs, with a disproportionate impact on the African-American middle class; the aftermath of the national foreclosure crisis is painfully evident in Greater Chatham’s “frozen” housing market; and the area is experiencing the in-migration of a lower-income, lower-skilled population looking for higher-quality housing options and better quality of life.

The Greater Chatham Initiative is an organization charged with developing and driving the implementation of a comprehensive strategy to revitalize the Chatham, Auburn Gresham, Avalon Park and Greater Grand Crossing neighborhoods on Chicago’s south side.

In 2016, our organization authored a plan to spearhead a new approach to integrated neighborhood and regional development, tailored to the assets, dynamics and economics of the new, 21st century economy.

Residents often identify not only with “Greater Chatham” or one of the four community areas but also with the many and varied “neighborhoods” within them, including West Chatham, Park Manor, Marynook and Chesterfield.

Cultural icons like Mahalia Jackson and
Gwendolyn Brooks as well as African-American businesses like Johnson Products and
Seaway National Bank have called Greater Chatham their home.

Principles

To build something that is real and tangible, it is important to follow these principles:

    1. State the goals and what metrics will need to be tracked
    2. Outline the strategies that could help achieve the goals
    3. Identify a series of initiatives that are tactical project/ program ideas to execute. They must be:
      • scalable so they can broadly and substantially impact the community
      • sustainable so they can continue after strategic-investments conclude
      • innovative and transformative, minimally making great strides to positively changing existing systems and maximally making fundamental paradigm shifts
      • rapidly deployable and have a fast-moving trajectory toward a successful tipping point.
    4. Create an action plan that builds a platform to identify and prioritize initiatives based on neighborhood specific goals, identify resources and community partnerships, and put forth timelines.

Goals

The Greater Chatham Initiative is a necessarily ambitious undertaking. This plan aims to make the community one of both opportunity and choice. These are suggested goals and metrics. We will further refine the below as we investigate, plan and undertake the Initiatives.

A.

Connect and align the residents and businesses of Greater Chatham with the Chicago region’s next economy growth opportunities.

B.

Revitalize and upgrade housing, stabilizing underwater homeowners and enabling new homeownership.

C.

Enrich the community’s array of retail, support services and other community amenities.

D.

Increase public-sector and private-sector investments and decrease in individual public supports.

E.

Create a next-economy inclusive civic infrastructure that connects community residents and businesses with regional stakeholders in fluid, flexible and innovative networks that are accountable to both communities and markets.

F.

Enhance the social system and quality of life.