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The Near North Unity Program (NNUP) seeks to connect residents and stakeholders in our diverse community, enhance its growth, and improve the quality of life by building upon local strengths through planning, organizing and human development. (“Near North” defined by following boundaries: North Avenue to Chicago Avenue, Wells to Halsted).

The goals of NNUP are to promote communication and cohesion; develop programs that cut across class, race, housing status and geographic boundaries, providing a common interest to the community as a whole; respond to community issues; and maintain a cohesive local leadership structure.

Alderman Walter Burnett Jr., saw a similar model in other communities in his ward.  He believed all Near North stakeholders could benefit from building bridges between people in a disconnected community, ultimately working toward a more cohesive Near North.

In 2010 the program started out by listening to community stakeholders to understand their priorities and learn about emerging issues.  Since 2010, NNUP has helped unite stakeholders and built relationships through a community driven process that identified priority areas and a community work plan.  NNUP events like the Seward Park Jazz Concert series are a model for building relationships across races, classes and generations.

NNUP is a partnership of over 300 stakeholders that draws over 100 people a month to participate in monthly meetings, community projects and events.  The partnership includes Chicago’s 27th ward, neighborhood leaders, community residents, local schools, businesses, faith leaders, community organizations, Chicago Park District, Chicago Housing Authority and others with support from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago (LISC), a nonprofit financial intermediary that channels corporate and philanthropic resources into local initiatives.  In 2013, the LaSalle Street Church became the lead agency for NNUP.

The 4 priority areas include youth & families, safety, land use & development, and employment. These areas drive the agenda for current and future collaborations.  Community celebrations, events and projects include:

  • Monthly membership meetings provide a forum for community planning and access to local, city and state leaders.

  • Jazz Concert Series in Seward Park each summer provide live entertainment for over 3,500 people

  • ‘Coffee with The Commander’ each month at a local coffee shop – Increasing safety through partnerships and relationship building with the 18th District