Thank you, Andy. And, thank you to Atlantic Philanthropies, for your confidence in Chicago, in the New Communities Program, and in the people of Pilsen, Logan Square, Chicago Lawn, Kenwood/Grand Boulevard and Auburn Gresham who have embraced Integrated Services in Schools and are committed to a powerful demonstration of its potential.

Atlantic Philanthropies’ vision resonates with us all — young people graduating from middle school, eager to learn, healthy in body and mind, with the support they need to meet challenges and take advantage of opportunities available to them — resonates with us all.

The platform for this wonderful initiative is The New Communities Program, a partnership between LISC and MacArthur to help bring about positive change in 16 of Chicago’s poor but promising neighborhoods, and in the city as a whole. The program was formally launched in May 2005, when Mayor Daley and I received Quality of Life plans from 14 organizations representing these 16 Chicago communities. Those plans represented intense planning, heated debate, competition and compromise that yielded a widely shared vision. Over 18 months, across 16 neighborhoods, 3,500 people participated in the process, demonstrating how much they cared about their communities.

That shared vision included new homes, stores, and businesses with jobs for local residents, health clinics, community schools, enhanced public safety, welcoming public spaces, programs to keep young people engaged and on a positive trajectory. Indeed children are at the heart of each and every plan. The future depends on well educated, healthy, civically engaged young people ready to develop their individual potential and give back to their communities. And while the Quality of Life plans express common goals they offer wonderful diversity of ways to achieve them. That diversity is well-represented in the five communities and schools that will participate in the Integrated Services in Schools initiative.

Note that I said “communities” and “schools.” With 150 community schools already operating, the culture of robust after-school use of the school building and links to the local community is already in place.

And NCP lead agencies are determined to strengthen the tie between schools and their surrounding communities.

I have no doubt that the schools and the lead agencies will be powerful partners with ISS. And the results in these first five schools will advance the larger ambition of obtaining the resources needed to make integrated services available in all schools.

Gara, we share your belief that all children deserve the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives, regardless of economic circumstances, and your commitment to giving them access to the educational and health resources and the support of caring adults that can change their lives.

We thank you and Atlantic Philanthropies for your confidence in us and the people of Chicago. We will not disappoint you.

Community & Economic Development, Chicago, Community Development