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Non-Profit Community Building Award: Erie Neighborhood House

Erie Neighborhood House remains as central to the lives of immigrant Chicagoans as it was 134 years ago when it was founded by the Presbyterian Church. Serving a primarily Latino population in West Town, Humboldt Park and Logan Square, Erie Neighborhood House is committed to empowering its constituents through education and leadership development.

In a very different world than that faced by its founders, Erie has stayed on the cutting edge of community building. Erie opened one of the first Community Technology Centers in Chicago, providing computer access and training to youth and adults. Erie also provides over 400 subsidized child care slots to immigrant mothers who must work in this double-income economy. Young people come to Erie for mentoring and tutoring in the TEAM program, which has seen 100% of its participants graduate high school and 97% go on to college.

The most innovative of Erie's current programs might be the one called Parent to Parent. It envisions the family as a community of learners and brings parents and their children together as parents learn skills for a GED, and take classes in typing and computers, English as a Second Language (ESL) and citizenship. Twenty-five parents and community members have been elected to Local School Councils because of the influence of Parent to Parent.

Erie's service area has been impacted by gentrification, placing increased pressure on the poorer families of those neighborhoods, but as some families moved away, Erie's service area has expanded to wherever it is needed. For example, working in partnership with Heartland Alliance, Instituto del Progresso Latino and others, Erie has opened a new immigrant center in Little Village to provide centralized services for Latino families.

Erie has also given birth to younger, equally vibrant groups such as: Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, Westtown Leadership United and Erie Health Services. Erie Neighborhood House’s rich tradition of building strong families and nurturing community leadership makes it this year's Non-Profit Community Building Award winner.