Foundations target South, West Sides
By Charles Storch
Leading Chicago foundations are creating a multimillion-dollar fund to
protect South and West Side neighborhoods from being overlooked or
overwhelmed in the city's pursuit of an Olympic Games.
The fund could eventually support everything from housing to tourism to
job training, foundation officials said Friday. They also see the fund
as helping Chicago's chances with the International Olympic Committee to
land the 2016 Summer Games.
"Part of the judgment that is made when choosing a site is how deeply a
community has been engaged in the planning and what possibilities there
are for a lasting legacy," said Jonathan Fanton, president of the John
D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. "I think this fund is an
expression of Chicago's determination to make the Olympics a benefit for
all neighborhoods, all peoples and all sectors in the city."
"We want to reassure neighborhood leaders and groups with which we've
been working that they will have a voice," said Fanton.
MacArthur, the Chicago Community Trust and the McCormick Tribune
Foundation -- the city's three largest philanthropies, in terms of
assets -- each are putting $1 million into the 2016 Olympics Fund for
Chicago Neighborhoods. (McCormick Tribune Foundation is independent of
Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune.) The much smaller Polk
Bros. Foundation is kicking in $500,000.
They are inviting corporations and other foundations to join the fund,
and they foresee the $3.5 million now in hand to double or triple.
The fund initially will focus on Washington Park, Englewood, Grand
Boulevard, Kenwood, Woodlawn and Douglas Park on the South Side; and
East Garfield Park, Near West Side, Pilsen, Little Village and North
Lawndale on the West Side.
Trust President Terry Mazany and Fanton said the first grants could be
awarded in coming months. They may be used to canvass residents and fund
research on jobs, business development and tourism opportunities.
Later grants may support community planning, affordable housing,
education and job training.
Mayor Richard Daley applauded the foundations and said this commitment
"underscores their generosity and continued investment in the future of
our city and our neighborhoods."
Patrick Ryan, chairman of the Chicago committee bidding for the
Olympics, said his group had sought support from the foundations, but
they felt a community initiative would be more appropriate. He said the
fund is "an incredible contribution" that will be of lasting benefit
even if the city loses the Games.
Mazany said it was important to begin the fund now rather than wait
until October 2009, when Chicago should learn whether it hosts the
"The planning and energy now [for the Games] will result in some real
and lasting changes, regardless of the decision by the International
Olympic Committee," he said.
Mazany said the foundations want to make sure that affordable housing is
a part of new development proposed for the Olympic bid.