Space to Grow Wins Chicago Neighborhood Development Award

April 11, 2018

Partners of Space to Grow standing on stage with award, blue background

Space to Grow was honored to receive the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Healthy Community Award at this year’s Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA). This award recognizes the work of a community organization in addressing the health of low-to-moderate income neighborhoods in Chicago through creative and collaborative strategies.

Space to Grow is transforming Chicago schoolyards into vibrant spaces that support kids, communities and the environment. The program is co-managed by Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands. Capital funding and expertise comes from Chicago Public Schools, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the Chicago Department of Water Management. Each Space to Grow schoolyard gets a $1.5 million transformation, and every space uses special surfaces and design elements—such as rain gardens and permeable pavers—to capture rainwater and help reduce neighborhood flooding during the heaviest of storms.

Space to Grow uses very focused selection criteria to identify schools and communities that most urgently need outdoor spaces for physical activity and are most directly located in areas with severe neighborhood flooding caused by combined sewer overflows. Space to Grow prioritizes vulnerable and underserved schools and communities.

CNDA is presented and managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC Chicago) which works to connect neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier. The awards were created in 1995 to celebrate community development projects and the organizations behind them. This year the CNDA theme was “Beyond the Grid: Amplifying the Neighborhood Voice in a Changing Economy.”

“The Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards has become one of the most publicly-recognized programs to celebrate innovation and best practices in community development,” said Deborah E. Bennett, CNDA jury chair and senior program officer at the Polk Bros. Foundation. “CNDA is a time for us to gather and celebrate the positive change and accomplishments that transform neighborhoods across Chicago. Congratulations to this year’s winners—I know you will continue to be an inspiration to the many individuals and organizations dedicated to community revitalization.”

All of the Space to Grow partners attended the award ceremony on April 5. Randy Conner, the Commissioner of the Department of Water Management; Jim Yurik, the Principal Civil Engineer at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago; Mary De Runtz, the Deputy Chief Facility Officer of Chicago Public Schools; Claire Marcy, Senior Vice President at Healthy Schools Campaign; and Jerry Adelmann, President and CEO of Openlands, accepted the award on behalf of Space to Grow. The award was presented by Maurice Smith, President of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.