August 15, 2018

Elevated Chicago Celebrates One Year

Elevated Chicago celebrates its first anniversary this month, and oh, what a year it has been.  As an equitable transit-oriented development (eTOD) initiative working in seven Chicago communities, Elevated Chicago has convened community-based and citywide organizations under a singular big challenge: How can cities leverage their transit systems to address racial inequities and prevent displacement of people of color?  

That simple question requires a multifaceted approach that includes systems and narrative change, advocacy and policy, capital investments and grants, and knowledge sharing – the tools of Elevated Chicago’s work. Since its launch, the collaborative has awarded $1,000,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations working together to advance racial equity, improve access to culture, boost climate resiliency and address public health disparities, in the vicinity of seven Chicago Transit Authority stations.

The collaborative also held Chicago’s first major eTOD symposium in December 2017, presented with support from Enterprise; greeted Chicago with an introductory video on its work; amplified equity via its Twitter account; and initiated an ambitious project to develop actionable strategies for each of the seven elevated train stations where work has started. 

These strategies are wrapped into the Elevated Chicago Work/Plan, a detailed look at its collaborative, multi-sectoral approach to eTOD – an approach that will drive fundamental systems change toward greater racial equity in the neighborhoods’ built environments. The Work/Plan relies on three, interrelated themes – people, place and processes – and commits to advance priorities such as affordable housing, business incubators, community-led campaigns, green infrastructure, public art, and more. It will be released to the public and available on the Elevated Chicago website in August.

Elevated Chicago is Chicago’s local SPARCC table. SPARCC – or the Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge –is a three-year, $90 million initiative that will empower communities and bolster local groups and leaders in their efforts to ensure that, as major new investments are made in infrastructure, transit, housing, health, and preparing for the challenges of climate change, they are used to make their communities places where everyone thrives.

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