Building Community on the Southeast Side

“I want a community center at Lakeside Development to keep people out of the streets and danger," said Claudio Contreras, an 8th grader on Chicago's Southeast side. Claudio knows that with a strong community center, young people in his neighborhood will be able to "join extra-curricular activities and get job training."

Students march at a Lakeside Development rally. Photo: Alliance of the Southeast

Claudio, a member of Our Lady Of Guadalupe Youth Group and YLC continues, "People who have been associated with a gang, or illegal activity, or who have been to prison should have a second chance to get jobs that pay well and get proper training--to help them socialize instead of being in the shadows.”

CCHD Grantee Alliance of the Southeast brings together many organizations on Chicago's Southeast side to achieve Claudio's goals--building hope for his future. By bringing the community together, ASE empowers the members of this neighborhood to create the change they need to rise out of poverty and and many challenges it brings.

The Alliance of the Southeast is a multicultural, interfaith alliance consisting of churches, schools, businesses, and community organizations that prioritize grassroots participation to address the challenges facing southeast Chicago. ASE envisions a powerful grassroots base that impacts decision makers and wins real improvements in our neighborhoods.

“We want a technology development center for young people, like me, to have partnerships while young people are in school. This is important to me because, when I grow up, I want to be a technology designer. I would like to work at Lakeside,” said Refugio Espinoza, 7th grader at Arnold Mireles Elementary, member of La Causa Community Committee and YLC.

Development Not Displacement, the campaign funded by the 2015 Catholic Campaign for Human Development Collection, seeks to empower community residents to obtain a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with Lakeside Development to secure training, jobs, and educational opportunities for local residents, affordable housing, environmental protections, and include the community in the development process, thus reducing unemployment rates of more than 17% and poverty rates of 30%. This campaign will bring vital resources to the community, empower community members, reduce poverty, and build a stronger, healthier voice for local residents.

Families from the 10th Ward--the area served by ASE--have been struggling every day since the collapse of the steel mills that once provided their jobs. Lakeside Development is the largest development in the region and will create over 139,000 jobs for this community. Mariano’s is expected to open in 2016. Development will take place over the next 20+ years.

By Amalia Nieto-Gomez and Bethany Collins
Amalia is Executive Director of the Alliance of the Southeast.

The Alliance of the Southeast is supported by a grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development collection. When you give to CCHD in November, 50% of your gift goes to organizations across the U.S., but 50% stays right here in the Chicagoland area to fight poverty and promote community development in our own neighborhoods.