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The Richard M. Daley Friend of the Neighborhoods Award

Harrison I. Steans

Harrison I. Steans was an entrepreneurial banker well known for his commitment and passion for his philanthropic efforts. In 1988, Harrison started the Steans Family Foundation with his wife Lois and three daughters, Jennifer, Heather and Robin. For nearly thirty years, the foundation has worked hand in hand with the North Lawndale community to improve educational outcomes, increase employment rates, and promote health and safety for its residents. 

Harrison and the Steans Family Foundation’s impact in North Lawndale is profound, but it is the commitment to long-term investment and meaningful and engaged partnerships that has made a true impact. As Harrison once stated, “Looking ahead, we see limitless capacity in North Lawndale. The journey may be long, but the destination is worth the wait.”

In 1987, Steans launched the “I Have a Dream” program to serve the students of two elementary schools, many of which were residents of the CHA’s Lathrop Homes. In 1998, he helped found North Lawndale College Prep, a charter school in a neighborhood where less than ten percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree. Today, about 80 percent of the school’s graduates enroll in college, an enrollment rate that is now nearly double the rate for all Chicago public high school graduates. 

Steans was not only a dedicated supporter of the North Lawndale community, but other city institutions too. He served in leadership positions on the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club and the boards of the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Ounce of Prevention Fund, as well as a Life Trustee of the Highland Park Hospital and DePaul University. In 2016, Harrison and the Steans Family Foundation began a partnership with Illinois School District 187 in North Chicago to strengthen the pre-k – college pipeline. 

Harrison Steans passed away in February 2019. His legacy and passion will continue to thrive through his family and he will always be remembered as a Friend of the Neighborhoods of Chicago.