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Winner in: 2005

By engaging hundreds of ordinary people to think about what they want for their communities, the New Communities Program is accomplishing things that no administration or philanthropic effort has ever been able to do before. The New Communities Program seeks to do what no other effort to rejuvenate challenged neighborhoods has done to put the communities themselves in the driver’s seat. The program is the most comprehensive and broadly based community improvement effort ever undertaken in Chicago, and it harnesses the combined powers of the public, private and non-profit sectors to make a difference. Sixteen different community development centers have been established in the city, along with a professional planner and a freelance journalist for each area, all with the goal of using public and non-profit dollars in such a way that the private market will eventually take over the rejuvenation process. This program has leveraged $600 million of investment in Chicago neighborhoods and has 15,000 housing units in 10 years. The New Communities Program model now is being replicated in 30 cities around the country as part of the federal government’s new urban initiatives.