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The Buzz

News and Updates 
NLEN's New Workforce Campus Is Open!


By Brenda Palms Barber

President and CEO, North Lawndale Employment Network and Sweet Beginnings, LLC; Chair, Workforce Committee, North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council

On August 26th, NLEN hosted our Grand Open House, in partnership with Wintrust Bank The day celebrated 22 years of incredible and impactful work, and the increased potential to impact lives in our new offices and workforce campus at 1111 S. Homan Avenue. After decades of operating our programs from 4 different sites, staff was overjoyed to join hands and celebrate NLEN’s journey, alongside elected officials 24th Ward Alderman Michael Scott, Jr, Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar, City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, and US Representative Danny Davis.   

I spoke about how essential NLEN is to build long-term wealth and prosperity in North Lawndale, and guests also heard from Wintrust Bank President Doug Boersma, NLEN Board Chair Dr. Michael McAfee, and current and former program participants. Guests ate delicious barbeque and received tours of the new facility from NLEN staff, and got to try the delicious drinks and pastries at the beelove café. 

Our new facility would not be possible without the support of Wintrust Bank and every single donor to our Campaign that Works. 

Our new campus is open! Our new campus is meant to be a hub for the community--whether that is relaxing and having a drink at the beelove café, accessing the public wifi, attending a Program Orientation to get connected to employment opportunities, or attending a workshop on financial health. For information on any of our current programs, contact NLEN Outreach and Engagement Specialist Richard Lawrence at Our beelove café is open to the public daily, Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 4 PM.

In the News 


Citi Foundation

July 2024

"Citi Foundation Grants a Collective $6 Million to Six Greater Chicago Nonprofits Working Locally to Increase Economic Opportunity In Latest Expansion of the Community Progress Makers Initiative"

The Chicago Defender

July 6th, 2024

"Peace In The Streets Block Party & Job Fair Unites North Lawndale Community"

The Chicago Tribune

July 5th, 2024

"Employers challenged to understand, address stigma faced by formerly incarcerated job-seekers"

The Chicago Community Trust

May 9th, 2024

"North Lawndale is a Resilient Community Forging Its Own Future"

CBS2 Chicago

April 24th, 2024

"A Call to Action: Justice for Black Women"

NBC 5 Chicago

April 15th, 2024

"Non-profits, health systems team up to address gaps in care, social services on Chicago's West Side"

Crain's Chicago Business
March 25th, 2024

"An Opportunity for the Outside World to See Inside Chicago"

NBC 5 Chicago

March 7th, 2024

"Local Woman Aims to Help Formerly Incarcerated People Find Jobs"


JP Morgan Chase

February 6th, 2024

"Sweet Beginnings: How a Honey Business is Giving People a Second Chance"

Block Club Chicago

December 21st, 2023

"West, Southwest Side Nonprofits Receive $200K Grants To Expand Employment, Outreach Programs"


CBS 2 News Chicago

December 12th, 2023

"Community groups call for action after CBS 2 investigation into Black women and crime"


Austin Weekly News

December 4th, 2023

"U-turn Permitted helps formerly incarcerated people find jobs"

FOX 32 Chicago

October 26th, 2023

"North Lawndale's beelove café supports non-profit employment network"

State of Illinois

July 28th, 2023

"Gov. Pritzker Signs Legislation Increasing Mandatory Supervised Release Transparency, Advancing Criminal Justice Reform in Illinois"

FOX 32 Chicago

July 28th, 2023

"Pritzker, alongside rapper Meek Mill, signs new Illinois law"


Chicago Tribune

July 28th, 2023

"New law loosening post-prison conditions is latest criminal justice change under Gov. J.B. Pritzker"

The Triibe

May 3, 2023

"Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson and other dignitaries welcome Chicago’s first Police District Councilors"

WTTW Chicago

April 15th, 2023

"Black Unemployment Rate Falls to Record Low in March"

CBS2 Chicago

February 3, 2023

"beelove café serving up coffee with a side of community collaboration in North Lawndale"

South Side Weekly
September 22nd, 2022

"Best Nonprofit Coffee Shop Serving Local Honey: Beelove Café"

Block Club Chicago
October 4, 2021

"City Partners With Microsoft To Offer Free Tech Courses, Aiming To Give Residents A Pipeline To In-Demand Jobs"

Chicago Sun-Times

October 1, 2021

"City, Microsoft team up to bring digital skills training to over 300,000 Chicagoans"

The New York Times

September 23, 2021

"1 in 3 U.S. Adults Has a Record. Give Them a Fresh Start."

The Chicago Defender

August 25, 2021

"North Lawndale Employment Network Opens Multi-Use Headquarters"

CBS2 News Chicago

August 26, 2021

"North Lawndale Employment Network Has A New Home, And Some Proud Success Stories"

Block Club Chicago

August 27, 2021

"West Side Job Training Campus Will Help Formerly Incarcerated People ‘To Do More, To Be More, To Soar’

The New York Times

August 4, 2021

"If You Paid Your Debt to Society, You Should Be Allowed to Work

Wall Street Journal

May 14, 2019

‘I don’t want to see him fail’: A Firm Takes a Chance on Ex-Inmates


Business Insider

May 5, 2019

13 of the weirdest things you can buy at US airports


January 16, 2019

A Tour of North Lawndale


Atlanta Federal Reserve Book

November 26, 2018

Atlanta Federal Reserve Book 



September 25, 2018

These Community-Minded Businesses Are Changing the Face of Job Training 



September 19, 2018

Low-income Americans get double squeeze from poor credit and high fees


People Magazine – Style section

February 5, 2018

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide – Alicia Keys’ top pick 


NBC 5 Chicago

January 28, 2017

Making a Difference segment with Michelle Relerford


WGN Radio 720 AM

December 4, 2017

The John Williams Show 


Windy City Live 

June 30, 2017

ABC 7’s Windy City Live

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