ENGLEWOOD — Two Chicago nonprofits — including an Englewood farm and a Near West Side ministry that provides services for ex-inmates — have each won a 2013 Neighborhood Builders Award from the Bank of America Foundation.
Growing Home and St. Leonard's Ministries, which runs Gracie's Place, were chosen for the award, which includes a $200,000 grant and leadership training for managers, such as CEOs and executive directors.
For the past 10 years the annual award has been bestowed upon nonprofits that are making a difference in the community they serve, said Julie Chavez, Chicago corporate social responsibility market manager for Bank of America. The awards go to two organizations in each of 40 markets across the country.
Growing Home runs an urban farm that sells organic products at 6814 S. Wood St.
"Growing Home has shown it is committed to providing healthy eating choices for the community," Chavez said.
St. Leonard’s Ministries, at 2100 W. Warren Blvd. on the Near West Side, provides temporary housing and other social services to ex-inmates. In the fall it opened Gracie’s Cafe, where residents can take culinary classes. The grant money will pay for a job developer at Gracie's that will help cafe workers find new culinary jobs.
Rebekah Silverman, associate director of Growing Home, said the award and grant will allow it to continue its mission of empowering residents by showing healthy ways to eat and grow their own products.
"While we have a farm in Back of The Yards, our primary farm is in Englewood and this grant ensures that will be able to maintain a presence there," Silverman said. "The Neighborhood Builders award is a big deal in the Chicago nonprofit field, so we are honored to be a recipient of this award."
Silverman will be one of the managers attending the leadership training, which for her "is absolutely wonderful."
“We recognize the important role St. Leonard’s Ministries and Growing Home play in serving our most vulnerable residents and ensuring better lives for so many in our community,” Tim Maloney, Illinois president for Bank of America, said in a statement. “The leadership training and program funding will not only deepen their impact today, but sustain their mission and services over time.”
The award comes as Whole Foods Market announced in September it plans to open a store in Englewood and sell its high-end products, which includes organic and gluten-free foods. But Silverman said she is not worried about losing business to Whole Foods.
"Whole Foods will not have a lot of impact on us," she said. "I have high hopes for Whole Foods opening an Englewood store because it will provide another outlet for healthy eating."