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The Chicago Community Trust Outstanding Community Strategy of the Year Award

Those who frequent commercial blocks in the Quad Communities area will recognize the fluorescent uniforms of Cleanslate participants beautifying the streets one block at a time. But the casual observer might not realize that in addition to beautifying their neighborhoods, these workers are part of a multi-layered community strategy to help both individuals and communities grow. The workers are neighborhood residents and interns with Cleanslate, an initiative of The Cara Program, which offers a range of programs in the Quad Communities area to help individuals, including those with histories of incarceration and homelessness, achieve lasting success and stability. While The Cara Program is active throughout the city, the layered services in the Quad Communities area have been especially effective in transforming lives and, by extension, neighborhoods.

In addition to Cleanslate, The Cara Program’s Center for Working Families in the Quad Communities provides essential services like career, employment and one-on-one financial counseling and benefits access. And through the Career Pathways Initiative, in partnership with the University of Chicago and the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, 97 neighborhood residents have found permanent jobs at the University in the initiative’s first 12 months.

For its success in addressing the challenges of poverty and barriers to employment in Quad Communities neighborhoods and for its commitment to bringing value to all of its community partners, from local government to community organizations to chambers of commerce, The Cara Program is the winner of the 2009 Chicago Community Trust Outstanding Community Strategy of the Year Award.