20 hours ago

Updated 13 hours ago

Presidential Library

I would have to call today’s townhall a success. But it is just the first step in a long and difficult journey that you are being challenged to take. This is a journey that can lead to a cleaner, safer and more prosperous community.
Our Library bid opens doors to opportunities that were unthinkable before. And those doors have to be identified and opened by you. There’s nothing free here. Everything we’ve gotten to this point in the process has...

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I would have to call today’s townhall a success. But it is just the first step in a long and difficult journey that you are being challenged to take. This is a journey that can lead to a cleaner, safer and more prosperous community.
Our Library bid opens doors to opportunities that were unthinkable before. And those doors have to be identified and opened by you. There’s nothing free here. Everything we’ve gotten to this point in the process has been earned with hard work. That won’t change going forward.
What about jobs? Another question is, “what jobs are we preparing ourselves for?” One group is starting a student enrollment drive for technical training so that our youth will have the skills for the coming economic boom. Even if we don’t get the Library (we will), won’t our community be better off with a skilled work force?
With the increased attention on us because of this national story, what opportunities do you see? How do we use that opportunity?

https://www.facebook.com/pages/North-Lawndale-Presidential-Library/366984393416815?ref=hl

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    Paul, I thank you for your leadership and vision that made it possible for the bid to make it this far. Your presence on the program was missed by many.

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    What can the community do, Paul Norrington? The building will be constructed with private funds, but managed with public dollars. I'd estimate that the infrastructure improvements and upgrades to roads and CTA could cost over $100 million (without knowing any particulars of the bid). Is there a way to get...

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    What can the community do, Paul Norrington? The building will be constructed with private funds, but managed with public dollars. I'd estimate that the infrastructure improvements and upgrades to roads and CTA could cost over $100 million (without knowing any particulars of the bid). Is there a way to get a community benefits agreement with the UIC, Presidential Library, the host committee and the city, state and federal entities that will be providing public funds? I'd like to see protections and benefits for homeowners and local businesses that are in the area bounded by the Lake, Roosevelt Road, City Limits and I-290. Inevitably, there will be some displacement. I'd like to see that the current owners are made whole. Even better, I'd like to see opportunities for them to improve their homes and business facades and technical assistance in growing their businesses. I'd also like to see all of our schools included in a network that will tie into the library. Specifically, the children should be taught to research and archive our local history, in addition to CPS designing a curriculum that includes information on President Obama. I'd like to see local businesses take part in the planning and development, beyond the usual volunteering that we do whenever these projects are planned, while others take the community's ideas and get paid. I'd like to see people who live here get jobs in the library and related redevelopment area. I'd like to see training start right now so that when the project breaks ground and gets constructed there will be a database with the names and qualifications of people ready to go.

2 days ago

Presidential Library

While I have no direct involvement with this weekend’s Townhall meeting or its planning, I fully support this opportunity for the Westside community to become fully involved in our bid for the Presidential Library.

So many times in our past, it seems that changes are made to our neighborhood, without a chance for community input. This is our chance to help make decisions about the impact of possibly the most significant, single change to North Lawndale since its beginning in...

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While I have no direct involvement with this weekend’s Townhall meeting or its planning, I fully support this opportunity for the Westside community to become fully involved in our bid for the Presidential Library.

So many times in our past, it seems that changes are made to our neighborhood, without a chance for community input. This is our chance to help make decisions about the impact of possibly the most significant, single change to North Lawndale since its beginning in 1869.

How can this effect unemployment, education and crime? What about property values and land use? How will this affect you?

The correct address is 1616 S. Avers Ave, Chicago 60623. Tomorrow! Saturday! November 22nd. 12 noon

Think Big! Get involved.

5 days ago

Meeting tonight about Austin High School Campus

Austin Community Action Council Meeting

Attend the Chicago Public Schools' Austin Community Action Council to learn and provide input regarding plans for the Austin High School Campus. Tuesday November 18, 5:30pm at Michele Clark High School (5101 W. Harrison).

Nov 10

Start your own Business!

No Cost, No Fee! Business Development Services. A great opportunity to fulfill you dream. Move from visualizing your idea to becoming an established business owner! Call Dorine at New Covenant CDC, SBDC, 773-826-1356. Located 1111 so Homan Ave Ste.201, inside the Liberty Bank Building.

Nov 03

Updated Nov 04

Presidential Library Recognition

I was recently honored by Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago (NHS) as one of this year’s, “Neighborhood Heroes”, for work being done in North Lawndale.
NHS promotes community empowerment through its annual awards. There were 9 recipients from communities across Chicagoland and I’m proud to stand for North Lawndale with our brother/sister communities. Take a look at their video profiles to see what can be done in a community.
The “Power of Community”
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9ITy1ChYg8wOKovNDozsx1INRYwsQAV3

Oct 29

Video from City Club of Chicago Panel on School Closings in Chicago

The City Club of Chicago hosted a panel discussion on school closings in Chicago on October 23, 2014. The panel included Tom Tyrell, Chief Operating Officer of Chicago Public Schools; Carlos Azcoitia, a member of the Chicago Board of Education; Andrea Zopp, a member of the Chicago Board of Education; Carol Caref, PhD, Research Director for the Chicago Teachers Union and myself. I spoke from my experiences as the co-founder of the Lawndale Alliance. My speaking points are outlined below....

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The City Club of Chicago hosted a panel discussion on school closings in Chicago on October 23, 2014. The panel included Tom Tyrell, Chief Operating Officer of Chicago Public Schools; Carlos Azcoitia, a member of the Chicago Board of Education; Andrea Zopp, a member of the Chicago Board of Education; Carol Caref, PhD, Research Director for the Chicago Teachers Union and myself. I spoke from my experiences as the co-founder of the Lawndale Alliance. My speaking points are outlined below.

We have found the CPS bureaucracy to be unwilling to work with the community. A broad base of North Lawndale stakeholders, including the CAC and elected officials put together an alternative plan for school closures that included plans for school improvement and a comprehensive array of community resources to provide support. We sent the plan to CPS and they ignored it. We invited them to a press conference to review the plan and they refused to come out. After schools were closed we sent emails asking for assistance in understanding the budget, and never got an answer. They refused to answer a FOIA request for information regarding the impact of school closures on budgets and programs. We invited them to participate in town hall meetings and they refused.

Finish reading the speaking points and view the video at http://www.valeriefleonard.com/2014/10/29/video-from-city-club-of-chicago-panel-on-school-closures/

Oct 15

Fall Festival

Rep. Turner is hosting his First Annual Fall Festival…

DATE:                    Thursday, October 30

TIME:                    6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

WHERE:                Douglas Park; 1401 S Sacramento Dr; Ball Room

Resources to help with college preparedness and scholarship information, educational service providers to help with credit recovery for high school students and re-enrolling high school students, and job training and employment information will also be available. Illinois Kid Safety (KISS) program will provide services to children age 3 and older

Oct 08

Updated Oct 08

GuideStar User Advisory Panel

I am deeply honored to have been invited to be a member of the GuideStar User Advisory Panel. GuideStar's mission is to revolutionize philanthropy by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving. (www.guidestar.org)

GuideStar gathers and disseminates information about every single IRS-registered nonprofit organization. They provide as much information as possible about each nonprofit's mission, legitimacy, impact, reputation, finances, programs, transparency, governance, and so much more. The goal is to arm end users with the information they need to make the best decisions possible.

Oct 06

West Side Nonprofits Rise to the Challenge

A cohort of nonprofit organizations on Chicago’s West Side have recently signed on to take the 30-Day Compliance Challenge. The program was developed by Valerie F. Leonard to help nonprofits increase their fundraising capacity by ensuring that they are current with all the necessary filings at the state and federal levels within 30 days. This will remove one of the many barriers to fundraising, freeing organizations to focus more on the day-to-day activities of running programs and services.

Leonard, an...

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A cohort of nonprofit organizations on Chicago’s West Side have recently signed on to take the 30-Day Compliance Challenge. The program was developed by Valerie F. Leonard to help nonprofits increase their fundraising capacity by ensuring that they are current with all the necessary filings at the state and federal levels within 30 days. This will remove one of the many barriers to fundraising, freeing organizations to focus more on the day-to-day activities of running programs and services.

Leonard, an expert in community and organizational development, cited the need for organizations to step back and review their nonprofit filings. “I work with organizations on a number of issues, including strategic planning, financial management and board development”, she said. “What I found, is, no matter what issue I’m hired to address, all roads lead to compliance. Organizations-- large and small-- have challenges navigating the requirements of state and federal reporting for nonprofits.”

To read the rest of the article, visit http://www.valeriefleonard.com/2014/10/03/west-side-nonprofits-rise-to-the-challenge/

Sep 29

Presidential Library

Now that our jewel of Black history and culture, Bronzeville has been eliminated from consideration for the Presidential Library, of the four remaining contenders, North Lawndale is the only one born and developed by the community.
North Lawndale, as a community, developed its own bid and then established a partnership with the world renowned University of Illinois.
There are “North Lawndales” across this country, from Hawaii to New York. In this contest, we represent them all.
What can you do to spread the word?
https://www.facebook.com/pages/North-Lawndale-Presidential-Library/366984393416815?ref=hl

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