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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

Statement from the National Collaborative for Health Equity on the Grand Jury Decision Regarding the Death of Michael Brown

The National Collaborative for Health Equity joins many other racial justice organizations around the nation in decrying the failure of the Grand Jury convened in the Michael Brown killing to indict Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson, who was responsible for Brown’s death.  Officer Wilson killed Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, leading to weeks of protest, much of which was exacerbated by a highly militarized response by police reacting to a community’s outrage.  Both the failure to indict Wilson, which would have led to a jury trial to determine his guilt or innocence, and the subsequent aggressive police response, have illustrated how racism continues to shape the landscape of too many U.S. cities and devalue the lives of people of color.

We know from a large and growing body of scientific research that unconscious psychological phenomena powerfully shape how people of color are viewed and treated in U.S. society.  These processes – which include implicit racial bias (the tendency among the vast majority of Americans, including many people of color, to have stronger, quicker, automatically-activated and unconscious associations between positive words and images of white faces, and conversely to possess stronger, quicker associations between negative words and images of African-American faces), racial anxiety (the tendency among many Americans to feel anxious in cross-race interactions about whether they will be perceived as racially biased), and masculinity threat (the fear among men that their masculinity will be challenged, particularly when interacting with African-American men and boys) – have been demonstrated to shape how people interpret and respond to cross-race interactions, even if these individuals abhor racism and express egalitarian views.  In other words, Officer Wilson, like a large majority of other Americans, may have responded with violence to Michael Brown simply because he was an African-American male, and might not have responded in the same way with a white youth.   A fair trial of Officer Wilson would have at least allowed prosecutors to examine whether these unconscious processes played a role in Brown’s death, despite Wilson’s racially “neutral” defense that he felt threatened by the teen.

Aggressive policing and inequitable treatment of people of color by police not only is unfair and counter to American values, it also increases risks for poor health in communities of color – and not just among those directly harmed by police actions.  It can lead to distrust of police and an unwillingness to cooperate with police investigations.  It also contributes to high levels of stress among those innocent persons treated with suspicion by police, and erodes a community’s sense of security.

The National Collaborative calls for police departments around the country to avoid future tragedies such as Brown’s death by receiving training on implicit bias and other unconscious processes, and understanding the role that they play in everyday policing decisions.  We also call for news media to provide more fair and balanced reporting of news involving people of color, and to focus attention on the structural barriers at the root of so many racial inequities, whether related to policing and criminal justice, economic opportunity, health, and the like.  And we call on our leaders – elected officials, clergy, business leaders, civic leaders, and others – to bravely lead a national conversation on race and racism.  Evidence reveals that racism literally kills people of color.  This is not only morally wrong, but it also threatens to continue to erode the fabric of American society in ways that hurt all of us.


Read the full statement here.

Are Bees Back Up on Their Knees?

Illinois Bans the Box

July 19, 2014

Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Help Ensure Fair Hiring Practices Across Illinois
New Law Prevents Criminal Background Checks Until After an Applicant is Deemed Qualified for a Job

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to help ex-offenders secure employment in the private sector and become productive members of society. The new law prevents criminal background checks until after an applicant is deemed qualified for a job. Today’s action follows an administrative order the Governor issued last year to ensure the same consideration for those seeking state employment. Today’s bill signing is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure all Illinois’ workers are treated fairly.

“Everyone deserves a second chance when it comes to getting a job,” Governor Quinn said. “This law will help ensure that people across Illinois get a fair shot to reach their full potential through their skills and qualifications, rather than past history. It will also help reduce recidivism, fight poverty and prevent violence in our communities by putting more people back to work.”  Click here to continue reading



O’Hare Apiary featured on Fox 32 Chicago

FOX 32 News Chicago

It is important to note that recent swarms at the O’Hare airport are not from the existing onsite apiary. However, because of the longstanding relationship between the CDA and Sweet Beginnings, LLC, we are able to quickly address these swarms rather than having to contract expensive, external services.

The following excerpt is from the Fox 32 New story.

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) –

With planes screaming overhead and busy I-294 just steps away, O’Hare is not the sort of place you’d expect to find one of nature’s miracles.

However, in a weedy and wooded part of the airport, hundreds of thousands of honeybees and a handful of ex-cons are working together to turn honey into money .

“We were looking for a creative way to create jobs for men and women who are returning from incarceration,” said Brenda Palms Barber, head of the North Lawndale Employment Network , which several years ago started a company called “Sweet Beginnings.” …   Click here to continue reading