Community Partners & Supporting Organizations
Community-based collaborators have been instrumental in working hand-in-hand to develop a vision for revitalizing Cultivate's six currently vacant acres within a larger 40-acre Chicago Housing Authority project site into a thriving community wellness, learning and sustainability hub. Partnerships with best-practice providers and operators are central to our mission to provide high-quality, evidenced-based and comprehensive programs, services and economic benefit to our local community.
Academy for Global Citizenship
Having served the community since its founding in 2005, AGC’s award-winning and innovative educational approach will provide an on-site, tuition-free, Pre-K-8th grade public education rooted in Dual Language and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs and a strong focus on whole child wellness, environmental education, and nature-based learning. Currently serving 96% minority neighborhood students, AGC will also facilitate learning and mentorship opportunities with green career exposure through its experiential and sustainable STEM learning labs on the Cultivate campus.
Archer Heights Civic Association
Archer Heights Civic Association is a key community organization and collaborator in the Gateway to Midway development strategy.
“We are impressed by the level of expertise, neighborhood resources, and innovation this project will bring to our community. Our members have expressed excitement for the community-oriented opportunities and services, such as the community garden, health center and teaching kitchen programs that the campus will provide for the broader neighborhood.” – Tom Baliga, President
Black Contractors Owners & Executives
The mission of Black Contractors Owners & Executives (BCOE) is to support Black contractors and industry professionals through education, mentoring, and legislation. BCOE is serving as a conduit to Black contractors, professionals and former Chicago Housing Authority residents to construction industry resources, education, and opportunities for current and aspiring business owners and those seeking to enter the trades through Cultivate’s hub. BCOE’s President started in the construction industry in 1999 as Black female apprentice, is a LEED AP, IL Environmental Council Board Member, and Clean Energy Jobs Act and Elevate Energy collaborator.
Chicago Housing Authority
The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) is overseeing the adjacent 700-unit mixed-income housing project on the neighboring 36-acre site. The CHA provides homes to more than 63,000 households while supporting healthy communities in neighborhoods throughout the city.
“I look forward to working with the CHA Board and staff to continue its valuable role in creating affordable housing opportunities and innovative programs that help families thrive in our community.” – Tracey Scott, CEO
Green Workforce Partner
In addition to creating access to solar training leading to employment with family-sustaining wages, Elevate brings equity through climate action by making it their priority for everyone to have access to clean and affordable heat, power, and water in their homes and in their communities. At the hub, Elevate will connect building professionals with the community to educate on solutions to reduce homeowner utility burden, spearheading the Neighborhood Power Project, supporting small business owners to accelerate sustainable adoption.
Esperanza Health Centers
Health Care Operator
Ranked among the top 3% of health centers in the nation and the top two in Illinois for their quality of care, Esperanza will operate an on-site Federally Qualified Health Center providing bilingual, high-quality primary care, behavioral health and wellness services for the community, regardless of immigration status, insurance status or ability to pay. Esperanza’s mission is to deliver health and hope for Chicago’s underserved communities.
Greater Southwest Development Corporation
Greater Southwest Development Corporation (GSDC) and Cultivate are collaborating on a Community-Led Workforce Development strategy to deliver on Cultivate’s robust local hiring, WMBE engaging and apprenticeship pathways.Upon launch, GSDC will serve as the architect of programs and services located in Cultivate’s training hub. GSDC will incubate businesses through their Business Academy, provide support to local entrepreneurs and business owners, homeownership assistance, and financial counseling.
“Cultivate will serve as a much-needed hub for regional revitalization, local investment and community wellness in Southwest Chicago. The economic and community development will have profound impact in our community for decades to come." – Adrian Soto, Executive Director
Hearst Community Organization
Hearst Community Organization (HCO) was founded in 1987 and is led by Joann Williams who has been a neighborhood resident since 1966 and spent part of her childhood growing up in LeClaire Courts. Developed in partnership with neighborhood leaders, our Community Benefits Agreement with HCO outlines the hiring of Chicago Housing Authority residents and resident-owned businesses, community facilities use, and community voice and stakeholder engagement in ongoing project planning. An additional MOU with the HCO and LeClaire Courts Local Advisory Council defines inclusionary hiring and business participation, focused on minority- and women-owned businesses and local workers, a Union Project Labor Agreement, and monthly meetings with community leadership for ongoing collaboration.
Through localized mentorship, direct investment and specialized services, HIRE360 strengthens the participation of underrepresented populations in the Chicago area — with a special focus on engaging youth to consider the trades as a viable and inspiring career path, mentoring and growing Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Women Business Enterprise (WBE) firms and creating a supply chain of partners that are accountable to higher participation standards. HIRE360 has an MOU with Cultivate and will prepare individuals for careers in construction trades and culinary arts through pre-apprenticeship programming with industry orientations, readiness assessments, direct financial assistance, and test preparation for trades exams.
Illinois Green Alliance
Green Workforce Partner
The Illinois Green Alliance (IGA) promotes green buildings and sustainable communities to improve the quality of life for everyone. IGA has expertise in the strategic development of new programs and initiatives that tackle climate change at the neighborhood scale. IGA will bring together key building industry stakeholders at the Cultivate hub to foster collaboration and training, and to accelerate the adoption of technologies to put both new and existing buildings in the Chicago metro region on the path to zero. This will include ongoing professional education and training, opportunities for industry credentialing and technical solutions, best practice sharing on the latest technologies, one-on-one support for neighborhood building owners, and connecting building professionals with the community to provide homeowner education for reducing utility burdens.
Hispanic American Contractors
The Hispanic American Contractors Industry Association (HACIA) is rooted in providing equitable opportunities to diverse individuals within the construction industry. Through providing education, training, and advocacy, HACIA assists Hispanics in growing their own construction-related businesses. HACIA is creating a tailored approach at Cultivate for the Hispanic community to service small businesses and individuals seeking to expand their skills in the construction industry through training, certification, educational workshops, and access to capital. HACIA has extensive experience in leading diverse, equitable and inclusive initiatives, including business development programming, workforce and community development strategies.
LeClaire Courts Advisory Council
LeClaire Courts Adivsory Council (LCAC) engages former residents from the previous Chicago Housing Authority projects. LCAC’s President, Joann Williams, has played a central role in our longstanding community collaboration and engagement of local voices in our planning and implementation process. Joann has been instrumental with ensuring that neighborhood resident voices are heard throughout the design and planning process of the LeClaire redevelopment. In addition to representing the community in ongoing monthly meetings with our project leadership team, Joann played a lead role in the development of our Community Benefits Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding with the local community organizations and residents.
Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
The Smith Child Health Outcomes, Research and Evaluation Center Catalyst within the Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago is serving as the Evaluation Thought Partner for Cultivate Chicago. Catalyst advances innovative research to improve the well-being, health, and healthcare of diverse populations of children. Their research and evaluation activities are centered around the core values of rigor, innovation, efficiency, sustainability, trust, equity, collaboration, and cultural humility.
Northwestern University (NU) is overseeing the research and evaluation of Cultivate’s net-positive water and nature-based water strategies. NU is leading the design and deployment of a water sensing network and working with AGC staff to collect data, compare hydrologic performance across the site and adjacent urban sites, and develop a site water balance to assess Cultivate’s net-positive water design. Additionally, NU researchers will work with AGC educators to co-design learning modules on urban hydrology and the benefits of NBS to manage stormwater, using the project-generated sensing network for demonstrations and data for class projects.
Sergeant Construction is a Certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, Minority and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise serving as a joint-venture construction partner for the six-acre Cultivate hub and $51MM phase one development. Sergeant’s President, Rick Ringold, holds 30+ years of business and construction industry experience. Rick is a former Army Corp of Engineers Non-Commissioned Officer who was deployed to Iraq on two separate occasions and excels in the fast-paced construction industry that necessitates a strong attention to detail.
Power Construction is working in a joint-venture with Sergeant Construction, a Certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, Minority and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise serving as a joint-venture construction partner for the six-acre Cultivate hub and $51MM phase one development. With nearly a century of experience, Power has created the opportunity for the minority construction community to enhance their business practices and opportunities in private and public projects, assisting in the sustainability and growth of these members and companies. Working hand-in-hand with Sergeant, Power is leading efforts to exceed 26% minority-owned business participation, community hiring, and apprenticeship-sponsorship to culminate in economic mobility and long-term employment pathways.
SB Friedman Development Advisors provides analytical, strategic and financial consulting services to help clients conceive and implement high-impact development and redevelopment projects. SB Friedman’s mission is to help their clients create equitable, resilient and well-designed communities through the practice of real estate economics, development finance and urban planning. SB Friedman is serving as the financial development advisor for the Cultivate hub and has led the New Markets Tax Credits transaction which has culminated in a $42.5MM allocation through five Community Development Entities.
Formerly the Ounce of Prevention, Start Early advances quality early learning for families with children, before birth through their earliest years, to help close the opportunity gap. Start Early will provide best practices, programmatic and structural support for Cultivate’s on-site Early Childhood Head Start program. Start Early is the leading U.S. early childhood charity committed to ensuring that children living in under-resourced communities across our country have the best start at life through quality early learning and care programs. As a proven nonprofit with nearly 40 years of experience providing doula, home visiting, Head Start and Early Head Start programs and advocating for policies and adequate funding that put families first, Start Early knows how to level the playing field and close the opportunity gap – it starts with quality early learning.
Urban Growers Collective
As a Black- and women-led non-profit rooted in growing food and creating a just and equitable local food system, Urban Growers Collective cultivates nourishing environments which promote health, economic development, healing, and creativity through urban agriculture. UGC will manage the on-site three-acre urban farm, orchards, learning barn and community gardens. UGC provides hands-on job training and create economic opportunity for youth, beginner BIPOC farmers, and men who are at high risk for gun violence. Their aim is to provide jobs while working to mitigate food insecurity and limited access to affordable, culturally-affirming, and nutritionally-dense food.
Providing a voice to the people of the southwest side of Chicago, the Southwest Collective (SC) supports the community’s needs through economic, educational and recreational initiatives focused on breaking down barriers, borders and boundaries in order to build community for all. SC leads the Southwest Chicago Chamber of Commerce and small business advocacy efforts to empower business owners with tools, information, and opportunities for growth. SC will lead community outreach and programming for local businesses to feed into Greater Southwest Development Corporation’s training and incubator, facilitating local food entrepreneurs’ use of Cultivate’s kitchen and café spaces to amplify small business growth.
As a technology-enabled farming company that grows nutritious, fresh, locally grown greens all year round, Square Roots provides accessible, equitable, and exciting pathways for a new generation of farmers in high-tech agriculture. Their sustainable farming practices help decrease environmental impact by using less water, less land, and less waste.
Square Roots will lease land on the Cultivate hub to operate a 20-zone hydroponic farming operation that will provide 20-25 fulltime, living-wage jobs that include equity and full benefits, in addition to a local community hiring strategy and farmer training workforce program that enables career advancement opportunities.
The project completion and delivery of contractual obligations is overseen by our capital project manager, Erin Lavin Cabonargi of Urban ReSOLVE (UR). Erin is a former Cabinet member to Chicago Mayors Richard Daley and Rahm Emanuel and served as the Executive Director of Chicago’s Public Building Commission, successfully delivering nearly $3 billion in development and over 70 LEED certified projects. UR provides comprehensive investment and portfolio management support by leveraging a unique combination of expertise in commercial real estate and public infrastructure development, public policy and stakeholder engagement, strategic planning and implementation, procurement and entitlement support, facility optimization, incentive analysis and alternative financing.
Via Chicago Architects + Diseñadores
As a certified Minority and Woman Business Enterprise and pre-qualified architect for Chicago’s INVEST South/West community improvement initiative, Via architects use their cross-cultural background to forge connections with local communities and tackle design challenges around the world. Via is collaborating on Cultivate’s phase two development that incorporates Square Roots’ hydroponics farming facility and green job training hub.
Vittum Park Civic League
The Vittum Park Civic League convenes stakeholder meetings and promotes neighborhood services “As an invested civic leader in our community, I have valued AGC’s participation and presence in neighborhood meetings and have appreciated the opportunities that community members and local residents have had to participate in planning updates and processes. The new campus will not only bring phenomenal benefits to students and families, including an Early Childhood Center, but will also contribute critically needed resources to our broader southwest side community." – Steve Fischer, President, Vittum Park Civic League