SOUTH LOOP — A $1,000 grant will help two women organize a weeklong, neighborhood-wide biking initiative after their proposal won top honors in this year's fifth annual "Greener South Loop" contest.
Winners Delia Bleahu and Kelly Smoots work for the after school program Youth Guidance at South Loop Elementary. Their pitch, "Ride Your Bike to Work Week," calls for the school's teachers and students — and the greater South Loop community — to commit to biking to and from school or work from April 21-25.
"The judges loved the idea of getting kids excited about doing a project that is both healthy for them and the environment, and that they can do with their teachers, parents, school staff and even community members," said Aaron Joseph, Deputy Sustainability Officer for the City of Chicago and emcee of the awards event last week.
Organized by the Alliance for a Greener South Loop, the annual competition solicits ideas from South Loop residents for community-wide activities that can reduce harm to the environment. Judges included Joseph, Liz Miller and Sarita Upadhyay of the Center for Neighborhood Technology and United Way's Shira Saliman.
This year was the first time the win came with a $1,000 grant for implementation, sponsored by South Loop businesses Daystar Center, Draper and Kramer, Forth Group Management Company and Grace Place Episcopal Church.
The grant will fund advertising of the event, prizes for participants, and bike safety information and materials, according to Alliance President Gail Merritt.