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FOUR SOUTHWEST SIDE CHICAGO GROUPS AWARDED
$110,000 IN CCHD GRANTS TO ADDRESS SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES

Chicago, IL ( October 9, 2008 ) – The Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, the Inner-City Muslim Action Network , the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and the Southwest Organizing Project were recently awarded $110,000 by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) to help residents of the city’s southwest side . The CCHD of the Archdiocese of Chicago funds anti-poverty and social justice groups that serve seniors, youth, immigrants, workers and the disabled through their community-based projects focused on affordable housing, education, the environment and violence prevention.

The Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC) is an 11-year-old community-based organization that intends to use its $20,000 grant for education issues to continue a school reform campaign that provides educational opportunities for 900 students and parents. "Catholic Campaign for Human Development funding is critical to supporting our work to strengthen and support the schools in our community, and provide resources for parents and students to be active leaders in the schools," said Patrick Brosnan, Executive Director, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council . The group's leaders recently organized six local elementary schools, a high school and three churches to create the Brighton Park Safety Net to improve conditions in this low-income Latino community on Chicago’s southwest side.

The Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) began on Chicago’s southwest side nine years ago, and today is the city’s only Muslim social-justice organization working for the reform of the criminal justice system. In 2007, IMAN championed the Drug School Act, legislation that offers treatment and sentencing options for minor drug offenders. "IMAN's Project Restore is working to capitalize on recent legislation that seeks to promote health care and education over incarceration for the drug addicted,” said Kyle J. Isma'il, Associate Director of IMAN. “If we successfully build support for this measure, it will undoubtedly improve the lives of many of our residents."

The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) will apply its $35,000 grant to continue to improve the living conditions on Chicago’s southwest side, one of the city’s most industrialized areas. LVEJO hopes to see the area’s second public park built, with space designated for an urban farm. In the last two years, LVEJO has mobilized more than 200 families to build community and backyard gardens to help support with the Little Village Urban Agriculture Fair. “LVEJO was able to continue the urban agriculture program with the help of funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development,” said Kimberly Wasserman Nieto, LVEJO Director. “This program helps teach entrepreneurship through farming to help community members add to their income in a field or trade they already know or would like to learn.”

The Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) is a 12-year-old, multi-issue organization with 28 member institutions, including churches, mosques and schools from the Chicago Lawn and Gage Park neighborhoods. SWOP is committed to furthering an anti-violence initiative where ex-offenders and former gang members befriend high school age kids most vulnerable to street violence. “The $35,000 Catholic Campaign for Human Development grant will help SWOP develop and provide alternatives for the area's youth so they can resist the pressure that's placed on them by local gang members to join to a gang,” said Jeff Bartow, SWOP Executive Director.

With the support of Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, this year’s CCHD collection will take place during the Masses celebrated at parishes in Cook and Lake counties the weekend of November 22 and 23. In 2007, over 95 percent of parishes in the Archdiocese participated in the collection that totaled over $900,000.

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the domestic anti-poverty, social justice program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Its purpose is to address the root causes of poverty in America through promotion and support of community-controlled, self-help organizations and transformative education. For more than 30 years, the CCHD of the Archdiocese of Chicago has funded community-based projects focused on affordable housing, education, the environment and violence prevention to improve the lives of seniors, youth, immigrants, workers and the disabled in northeastern Illinois.

For more information about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, including a complete listing of the organizations that received CCHD grants for 2008, please visit www.archchicago.org, or contact Elena Segura at 312--5333 or esegura@archicago.org.

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