The Opportunity

Chicago’s South Side has an enduring history, a culturally rich and diverse population, tremendous human and physical assets, and immense promise. Several new development projects, in particular the creation of the Obama Presidential Center—currently projected to open in Jackson Park in 2021—present an unprecedented opportunity to put these assets to work to spur new and impactful investments in the local community. Woodlawn, Washington Park and South Shore can best maximize the impact by working together to ensure investment benefits residents, businesses and current organizations across all three neighborhoods, rather than each community approaching the project on their own. As such, a new, centralized approach, and corresponding support is needed to help local groups capitalize on the urgency and energy of this moment.

To learn more, attend a discussion of this initial phase of work to develop an economic and community development organization serving Woodlawn, Washington Park and South Shore at the upcoming South Shore Works 2nd Annual Community Conference.
April 29, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Elementary School, 7511 South Shore Drive
RSVP for the conference today

The Need

A new community and economic development organization, that will support work across Woodlawn, Washington Park and South Shore, is needed to connect the determination and skills of local residents and organizations. Stated priorities that have been elevated from research for consideration, further planning, and prioritization include:

  • Build and strengthen commercial corridors
  • Support business and non-profit incubation, development and recruitment
  • Coordinate workforce development
  • Implement an inclusive housing strategy

What do you think is the greatest need? Please go to to provide input on your priorities for community and economic development on the South Side.

The Team

Selection of a board with community representation to lead this process is currently underway. If you are interested, please review the complete guidelines about board service and how to apply. Applications can be completed online, printed and filled out from the application form document (PDF format), or picked up in person at locations listed on our fact sheet. Applications are due Friday, May 5.

Candidates should be committed to improving the quality of life on the South Side and in Chicago and be able to represent community needs. Candidates should have a background in one or more of the targeted areas:

  • Funding
  • Finance
  • Outreach or communications
  • Workforce
  • Real estate or housing
  • Venture capital
  • Experience organizing people or organizations
  • Leading initiatives

Finalists will be invited to interview with an independent panel that includes community members for the position in May. The full board will be announced by this summer.

Next Steps

Community input and feedback continues to be gathered through a series of meetings. To date, hundreds of community members have been engaged through focus groups and large town hall meetings.

Additional philanthropic and corporate partners are being sought to support the creation of an innovative community and economic development organization, with a priority being to secure support for the creation of a business plan and operating model, the hiring of an executive director, and ongoing community engagement and outreach activities.

For questions about the application process, please email