Chicago residents can propose their own community-enhancing projects and receive up to $1.5 million in funding to improve city-owned land under a program announced Thursday.
The Chicago Works Community Challenge is intended to provide $10 million in total funds for smaller projects, such as converting vacant lots into neighborhood playgrounds or gardens, or improvements to schools, parks or libraries.
That money will be spread over each of Chicago’s 7 planning regions. Chicago Works is a five-year capital plan to invest in community infrastructure.
“I want you to tell us about that vacant lot that you wish could be turned into a playground or community garden. Your local park or school that could use better facilities. Or your local library that might be missing a community room,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at an event in Auburn Gresham to launch the challenge. Thursday marked her second-anniversary in office.
Applications will be accepted beginning on June 1 and will be found on the Community Challenge website.
“The very soul of this city resides in our neighborhoods,” Maurice Cox, commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development, said at the news conference, held near 79th and Halsted streets. “And that’s why the investments that we’re trying to create are targeted in neighborhoods like the one we’re in right now.”
After the initial screening, proposals will be evaluated based on feasibility, design, community input, and impact.
Finalists will be interviewed between from October through December.
Winning projects are set to break ground in 2022.