Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sweet Beginnings Featured in South Side Weekly

The Buzz Around the South Side

Backyard beekeepers and community organizations make up a rapidly growing beekeeping community on the South Side

Click here to read the full article

City of Chicago to Partner on our Moving Forward Program

NLEN is pleased to announce the City of Chicago as a new partner of Moving Forward, our diesel mechanics training program. This program prepares men and women with felony backgrounds for careers in the transportation, distribution and logistics sector. The City joins existing partners JP Morgan Chase, the Chicago Community Trust, and the Chicago Transit Authority and is expected to fund the program for at least two years.  We are honored to help close the skills gap – driving the local economy with local people!

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Sweet Beginnings on CNN Air


Next time you are at the airport, look for this CNN piece about the Sweet Beginnings apiary at O’Hare Airport. The apiary was established four years ago in partnership with the Chicago Department of Aviation as part of its Sustainability Program. Nearly 100 hives now sit on what used to be unused airport land. North Lawndale Employment Network is proud to be a leader in job creation through sustainable enterprise!


New Faces and Responsibilities at NLEN

We are excited to announce the arrival of new staff members and the advancement of others into new roles at our organization.

  • Jackie Jordon has moved into the role of Program Manager for our Urban Weatherization Initiative. Jackie first came to the agency as a participant and was hired as a workforce coach in 2013.
  • Eric Courts has stepped into the role of Assistant Business Solutions Manager. Eric first joined NLEN in 2014 as a digital literacy instructor.
  • Jermaine Morales, Workforce Coach, will be overseeing the day-to-day management of Moving Forward, our diesel mechanics training program.
  • Thad Smith is stepping into the role of Head Beekeeper. Thad is a graduate of U-Turn Permitted who was hired by Sweet Beginnings in 2013. He has since been training as the Apprentice Beekeeper and will soon be assuming our primary beekeeping responsibilities.
  • Carol Mjoseth has joined NLEN as our Development and Social Media Associate. Carol brings more than 20 years of experience the NLEN team and is working towards her Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the university of Illinois Chicago.

We are proud to work alongside such dedicated and talented staff members. Thank you all for the work you do.

NLEN and Chicago Police Department Recognized with National Safety Awards


NLEN, Chicago Police Department, and LISC Chicago honored with a Community-Police Partnership Award for Building Bridges, Building Connections

Representatives from the Chicago Police Department, North Lawndale Employment Network, and LISC Chicago receiving the MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Award for their Building Bridges, Building Connections collaboration.


Chicago Police and Community Partners Recognized with National Safety Awards

CHICAGO – The Chicago Police Department (CPD) and local community groups Enlace Chicago and the North Lawndale Employment Network will be honored by MetLife Foundation on Thursday, December 11, at 11am at Chicago Police Department headquarters (3510 South Michigan Avenue) for their extraordinary partnerships to reduce youth violence and to improve community-police relations.

Chicago Police have worked closely with Enlace’s Little Village Youth Safety Network (YSN) and the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) Building Bridges, Building Connections program in community-wide efforts to increase neighborhood safety. The two programs work to develop strong relationships and build trust among community residents and police officers – an approach that has been proven to play a crucial role in making neighborhoods safer.

As part of the 2014 MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Awards, the Foundation will present the Excellence in Gang Reduction and Youth Safety Award to the Chicago Police Department and Enlace’s YSN, and the Excellence in Diversity Inclusion Award to the Department and NLEN. MetLife Managing Director Jennifer des Groseilliers will present the partners with the awards.

“Working with community members is essential to the mission of the Chicago Police Department. Through Enlace Chicago and NLEN’s leadership and hands‐on approach, we are continuing to build close partnerships with several communities and constituencies – which is a key part of our work to promote police legitimacy and build strong neighborhoods. And that helps us to continue to reduce crime throughout Chicago,” First Deputy Al Wysinger, Chicago Police Department.

The Chicago partnerships are two of 11 national MetLife Foundation awardees in a program administered by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). More than 560 organizations across the country applied for the 2014 awards. MetLife Foundation and LISC have been recognizing innovative partnerships between community groups and police departments since 2002.

Enlace’s Little Village Youth Safety Network is a multifaceted neighborhood coalition of local organizations that support youth development as a vehicle for violence prevention. The network has worked closely with the CPD 10th district to create a data-informed program that uses analytics such as heat maps and crime statistics to guide the network’s decisions for and evaluation of its programs, which include mentoring of at-risk youth, connecting youth and families to mental health resources and increasing opportunities for youth to engage in community programs. Little Village has seen a gradual decrease in violent crime and homicides over the past decade, which can be correlated with increased work between community groups and the Chicago Police Department over that same time.

“The data the Chicago Police Department provides allows us to make strategic and educated decisions in our community to keep our youth safe,” said Michael D. Rodríguez, Executive Director of Enlace Chicago. “Little Village residents and organizations will continue to seek ways to work with the police department to create a safer neighborhood.”

Over the last three years, the North Lawndale Employment Network and Chicago Police Department Education and Training Division and Districts 10 and 11 have led a joint initiative that invites citizens returning from incarceration to engage in candid discussions with police. Building Bridges, Building Connections provides opportunities for meaningful interaction between the formerly incarcerated and police officers to promote understanding of each other’s experiences to ultimately change perceptions of each other and positively influence future interactions.

“We have seen a positive shift in perspective among our program participants and community members as a result of our partnership with the 10th and 11th Districts,” said Brenda Palms Barber, CEO of NLEN. “Building Bridges plays a vital role in our programs that help returning citizens get back on their feet and meaningfully contribute to their community.”

Enlace’s Little Village Youth Safety Network and NLEN’s Building Bridges, Building Connections were selected by a national committee of police commanders, community development executives and LISC staff for their partnerships with the Chicago Police Department. Both community organizations will receive $15,000 grants to help support their ongoing public safety work.

“Collaboration between community-based groups and police departments can reduce crime, stimulate housing and business activity, and improve the quality of life in lower-income neighborhoods,” said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “The Chicago partnerships are exemplary models for groups nationwide facing similar challenges and opportunities.”


About Enlace Chicago: Enlace Chicago is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of the residents of the Little Village Community by fostering a physically safe and healthy environment in which to live and by championing opportunities for educational advancement and economic development. For more information about Enlace Chicago, visit

 About North Lawndale Employment Network: Founded in 1999, North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) is committed to improving the quality of life and economic stability of North Lawndale and surrounding communities through innovative employment initiatives and comprehensive programming. For more information about NLEN, visit

 About MetLife Foundation: MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife’s long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement.  Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million over the next five years to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world. MetLife Foundation is affiliated with MetLife, Inc., a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers, visit

 About LISC Chicago: LISC Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier. Since its founding in 1980, LISC Chicago has organized $750 million in grants, loans and equity to invest in comprehensive development programs throughout the city. For more information about LISC Chicago, visit