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Non-Profit Neighborhood Development Group of the Year

A bold commitment to faith and place has been the hallmark of Bethel New Life Development Corporation, this year’s Neighborhood Development Group of the Year, since its first development project in 1978.

Since then, Bethel, with an operating budget of $12.5 million and a staff of 350, has developed over 1,000 rental units and brought $110 million of investment to the West Garfield Park community. In addition, the organization works with more than 13,000 people each year in economic development, employment, family support services, senior care, cultural arts and education.

Bethel is best known, perhaps, for its pioneering initiatives that have expanded the vision of community development generally. Bethel was one of the nation’s first organizations to employ the Low Income Housing Tax Credit to finance affordable rental housing, and one of the first to advocate for public transit as a development anchor. The Urban Land Institute has also cited Bethel’s innovation in acquiring the shuttered 9.2-acre St. Anne’s Hospital and transforming it into the senior-oriented Beth-Anne Campus.

Bethel’s solid work and partnerships with block clubs, business leaders and neighborhood agencies has made it an anchor institution in the neighborhood. It is fitting that, on the 10th anniversary of the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards and its own 25th anniversary, Bethel New Life – with its renowned director Mary Nelson – is duly honored as a leader in community development in Chicago and throughout the nation.