May 6, 2016

Join Blocks Together for a conversation with Dr. David Stovall, author of Born out of the Struggle on the 15th Anniversary of the Little Village Hunger Strike.
Rooted in the initial struggle of community members who staged a successful hunger strike to secure a high school in their Chicago neighborhood, David Omotoso Stovall s “Born Out of Struggle” focuses on his first-hand participation in the process to help design the school. Offering important lessons about how to remain accountable to communities while designing a curriculum with a social justice agenda. Click on the link to register for the event. link

Elected Representative School Board LegislationFebruary 20, 2016

What is HB 4268 ?

Currently, the Chicago Board of Education (the Board) consists of 7 members who are appointed by the Mayor of the City of Chicago, without the consent or approval of the City Council. The members serve 4 year terms.

    • The Mayor also appoints the Chief Executive Officer and determines his or her compensation.  In the 2015 municipal elections, voters in 37 Chicago wards were asked if they favored an elected board over an appointed board.
    • The results were staggering, yet not surprising: 89 percent of voters favored an elected board.


  • House Bill 4268 provides that:On March 15, 2016, the terms of all currently appointed members of the Board will expire and abolish.
    • 13 new members are to then be elected.  
      • Four electoral regions: Southeast Side, Southwest Side, West/Central Region, and the North Region. Each region must be represented by 3 members, except the North region which will have 4 members. Each region must have 2 parent members and 1 community member. 
      • Eligibility requirements: must be at least 18 years old; parent or legal guardian of a child enrolled in the public school region; and be a resident of the region. Eligible persons must obtain a petition with at least 250 signatures in order to be placed on the ballot.


      • 7 members will serve 4-year terms and 6 members will serve 2-year terms, in order to create staggered terms.
  • These board members would better represent our children and our communities than an unaccountable, unelected board.
  • These elected board members would have strong ties to the communities, chosen democratically by the very communities they would serve.
  • Then, if voters – parents and members of the community – feel board members are not doing an adequate job or are failing our students, they can be replaced. The board will be more accountable.

If you still need more information about whether Chicago needs an elected school board please take a look at these resources:


GEM ERSB Fact Sheet



Community Group Responds to Mayor’s New Economic Development InitiativeFebruary 19, 2016

Mayor Rahm Emmanuel recently announced a plan to increase economic development through the “Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus”  initiative. While this approach is innovative, there must be measures put in place to ensure these funds are used properly and made to be used for change that does not led to gentrification and further isolation of many of Chicago’s residents.

The Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus initiative must have; direct benefit to current residents and homeowners of the targeted communities where the funds will be dispersed; additional accountability for potential development that is created based on these funds such as community benefit agreements that ensure local hiring, local business and contractor support, and community collaboration; and lastly transparency around funds and the distribution of those funds.

Blocks Together, a community organization in West Humboldt Park, has been working for the last seven years to ensure local Tax Increment Financing dollars in low income communities have direct benefit, accountability, and transparency.  This has been done through annual meetings with residents and the City of Chicago Department of Planning to report expenses and projects being funded to the larger community, advocating for needed projects in the community where TIF can finance such as a new library in the community and a housing purchase support program. In 2014, BT facilitated the first participatory budget process where the community decided projects for $2 million of TIF funds. Through this we know the City can do better in creating more community participation and direct benefit with public dollars.

BT has been proposing additional measures with current and future economic development funds that prevent displacement, and the politics that impact how funds can support the needs of communities in the City such as; using the participatory budgeting model with these new funds, requiring advisory councils that have power to veto and improve upon potential development, and create mechanisms where residents can follow the money without complicated data sets and numbers. BT has seen how people can come together and create solutions for community driven economic development, and where the City needs to change its approach in engaging with community residents to provide community controlled development, and move away from the status quo of top down decision making. We hope this new initiative moves the City in the right direction in real reform and innovation in resource distribution.

Blocks Together News

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Blocks Together Calendar

Meeting for re-purposing for vacant Laura Ward

Residents of West Humboldt Park are welcome to attend a meeting around the re-purposing of the vacant Laura Ward Elementary School.
When: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 6:00pm – 8:00pm Where: Nia Family Center 744 N. Monticello Ave. Chicago, IL 60624

BT members began working on the re-purposing of the vacant school early 2014, many issues arose such as immediate safety concerns. Never the less the re-purposing of the school is important. Read a recent articlewith BT Co-Director Cecile Carroll, and Alderman Walter Burnett around the issues facing the community and the re-purposing of Laura Ward.

Next CEFTF meeting

Saturday, July 11th will the next Chicago Educational Facilities Task force at :

SATURDAY, JULY 11th, 2015 

10 A.M. – 12 NOON

(Sign-in/Registration to begin at 9:30 A.M.)

Hope Presbyterian Church

1354 West 61st Street

Chicago, IL

The purpose of this Meeting is to gather public input and take testimony on the following topics:

–  Chicago Public Schools’ 10-Year Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP)




Concerned parents, educators, students, community members, elected officials, and other stakeholders are urged to provide testimony on these topics atSaturday’s meeting.

Written testimony on these topics may be submitted to the CEFTF via email to this address:

As always, the members of the CEFTF welcome and value your input.

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