Category Archives: Community News

Sweet Beginnings at the Cook County Board

North Lawndale Employment Network and Sweet Beginnings are proud to announce a new partnership with Cook County Forest Preserve. This $25,000 grant will allow Sweet Beginnings to manage a new apiary on forest preserve land.

The Sweet Beginnings team was honored to hear of the grant approval at last Tuesday’s Cook County Board meeting. Above the team is pictured with North Lawndale’s Cook County Commissioner Robert Steel and Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle.

Old St. Patrick’s Church Partnership

North Lawndale Employment Network is a proud member of Old St. Patrick’s Church’s North Lawndale Kinship Initiative. In Old St. Pat’s last church bulletin, leaders asked members of the Kinship to reflect on how partners – instead of halting at the racial, cultural, religious and economic differences among them – rise above to see one another as members of one community and live of a life of mercy. Gernell Turner, Business Solutions Manager of the North Lawndale Employment Network was quoted with the following:

“The North Lawndale Employment Network serves individuals who have the highest barriers to employment – the underprivileged, the undereducated and the under-classed, and those citizens returning to society after incarceration. We regard our clients as already having served their time, so we help them find roads of redemption through our job readiness services. There they have tangible access to God’s and society’s mercy. There is such relief and freedom that clients encounter once they get that second chance to feel productive with a willing employer and to provide for their families through honorable, sustainable work.”

Click here to read the full Church Bulletin.

Essence of an Angel

Event Date: Sunday, April 13, 2014
Event Location: Academic Library
Event Format: Luncheon/Family Style
Time of Event: 12-3 p.m./Lunch served at 1p.m.

The “Essence of an Angel” luncheon will provide the Chicago State University (CSU) community and friends an opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the achievements single mothers have made to CSU and the Chicago community. A diverse nominating committee selected the 5 honorees for this year’s event. This year’s chosen honorees include Ms. Cristina Baines, Manager, CSU Creative and Print Services, Ms. Brenda Palms Barber, Executive Founder, North Lawndale Employment Network, Ms. Aundrea Holland, CSU Student, Ms. Lisa Haley Huff, Senior Vice President, PNC Bank and Ms. Gwendolyn Mackel Rice, Principal Consultant, the Mackel Rice Group.

This award celebrates the talents and dedication of women who exemplify success and achievement in their careers and devote themselves to making their communities healthier, safer and more inspirational places to live while balancing the commitment of being a parent. This event raises funds to support single mothers who attend CSU and are in need of scholarship assistance. Presently, over 50% of students enrolled at CSU are single mothers.

Click here to learn more and view the event’s photo gallery.

Brenda Palms Barber honored as ComEd Power of One Neighborhood Hero


Brenda Palms Barber will be honored as one of ComEd’s Power of One Neighborhood Heroes this February 24th.

In honor of Black History Month, Brenda and 27 other outstanding people will be recognized for showing what the power of one can accomplish in our neighborhoods and communities.  Learn more about Brenda and the other honorees on the Power of One website.

Billboard featuring Brenda will be at the following locations:

Kedzie Av ES 100ft N/O 16th St F/S
Cermak Rd NS 2ft E/O Avers Av F/W
Cermak Rd SS 500ft W/O Kildare Av F/W
Pulaski Rd WS 25ft N/O 16th St F/N
Kostner Av WS 10ft N/O 16th St F/N
Roosevelt Rd SS 25ft W/O Keeler St F/W
Roosevelt Rd NS 150ft W/O St Louis Av F/E

Panel: 10 Misconceptions about starting your own nonprofit

10 Misconceptions About Starting Your Own Nonprofit

A Roundtable Discussion

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 11:30 am

Free. Pre-registration required.REGISTER HERE >

Whether you’re an activist hoping to effect change in your neighborhood or a business professional trying to meet the needs of your community, starting a nonprofit organization is one of the best ways to advance your cause. But due to a handful of common mistakes, most fledgling nonprofit organizations fail to make it off the ground.

Spertus Institute presents an online roundtable discussion (hosted via Google Hangouts) that will help you escape needless pitfalls and make your nonprofit start-up stand out.

Hear our expert panel of professionals, innovators, and educators as they share their strategies for turning your nonprofit dream into reality. The panel will also address questions from participants.

To participate, you’ll also need a free Google account.
See the sidebar for easy instructions.


Brenda Palms Barber

Brenda Palms Barber is Executive Director of Sweet Beginnings, an organization that offers jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals through production of products using honey from its urban apiary. In 2012, Brenda spoke before a U.S. congressional committee about how Sweet Beginnings’ workers, who have a recidivism rate of 4% compared to a national average of 65%, can serve as a model. Under her leadership, the organization has received awards including a MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. She is a graduate of the Spertus Masters of Science in Nonprofit Management program.

Dr. Karin Baird

Karin Baird is Acting Director of the Spertus Master of Science in Nonprofit Management program. She has been teaching and advising nonprofit professionals at Spertus Institute for more than a dozen years. Under her guidance, hundreds of graduates have gone on to start their own nonprofit organizations. Karin also runs Spertus Institute’s Grantwriting Certificate Workshop, a one-day intensive course that equips participants with professional grantwriting techniques.

Bruce Crane

Bruce Crane is an advocate for bringing business savvy to the nonprofit community. After a college career spent volunteering with blood drives, recycling programs, and student activities, he joined his family’s business, Crane Carton Company. He helped grow the business fourfold, becoming Chief Operating Officer after just 12 years. In 2000, Bruce sold the business. Today he serves on the board of StreetWise, where he stepped in as Executive Director and helped save the organization, as well as on the boards of a range of other nonprofits.