UCAN’s 14th Annual Donor Recognition Reception and Annual Meeting on February 13 took on a slightly different tone this year as we celebrated the close of our successful multi-year Capital Campaign that made possible UCAN’s move to the North Lawndale community and the expansion of important programs on Chicago’s West Side.
In 2008 UCAN’s Governing Board made a decision to pursue an ambitious plan to move the agency’s outdated administrative offices and therapeutic youth home on Chicago’s Northwest Side closer to the youth and families in the communities we serve. With support from public and private donors, corporations, small businesses, foundations, elected officials and government agencies, the Capital Campaign raised an impressive $49.2 million for the campus and new community-based programs.
Equally impressive is the commitment our employees made to the campaign: 226 UCAN employees pledged $237,221 in a remarkable show of support and confidence in our vision. Their commitment to our youth and families is unmistakable and motivating.
Our beautiful seven-acre Drost Harding Campus is home to more than 300 full- and part-time employees who provide services and management at the:
- John D. and Alexandra C. Nichols Center headquarters and program center, which allowed UCAN to consolidate two offices into one building to create workplace efficiencies, enhance coordinated services for youth and host groups of staff and external partners in one room for trainings and workshops.
- Diermeier Therapeutic Youth Home for youth in care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which provides a safe and healing environment for 65 youth closer to where they live.
The Capital Campaign generated more than $12 million that has enabled UCAN to expand services to North Lawndale residents six-fold. From the campus UCAN now provides new individual and group mentoring and an array of youth development programs. We’ve expanded our mental health services, recreation programs and workforce development programs. The campus has been regarded as one of the largest economic development projects on Chicago’s West Side in recent memory and continues to earn compliments and support for providing jobs and valuable workplace experience for African Americans in North Lawndale.
One of UCAN’s cornerstones is unrivaled diversity, and we built the campus “the right way.” We set a goal to spend 50% of our total project budget with minority- and female-owned businesses – and spent more than 60% of the project’s $42 million cost with qualified MBEs and WBEs. In addition, more than 70 percent of the total hours worked to build the campus were by minority and women laborers. And UCAN hired 59 individuals from the community to help complete the project, which exceeded the original goal of 46 local hires.
“We made a very intentional, strategic decision to move our core programs and headquarters to North Lawndale,” said UCAN CEO Zack Schrantz. “We challenged ourselves to see where we wanted to be in 100 years, and who we wanted to be. Our vision that ‘youth who have suffered trauma can become our future leaders’ meant that we had to be closer to the youth and families we serve. The Capital Campaign made it possible for us to be in the right place for UCAN at the right time with the right purpose.”
Two youth from North Lawndale spoke at the Annual Meeting and shared their thoughts on the impact of the Capital Campaign.
“UCAN has been great in preparing me to embark in this traitorous world of employment; equipping me with an arsenal of tools to be the best that I can be. Now, a young adult and a college graduate and an employee at UCAN,” stated Tenese Johnson, a former participant in our Workforce Development program.
Chris Lee, a participant of UCAN’s 360 Community program, explained, “UCAN has become my second family since joining in 2015. I have worked with my mentor Haman Cross who has introduced me to many opportunities and new experiences. For example, I currently serve as an ambassador for Chicago Ideas Week and I have completed murals throughout North Lawndale. UCAN has connected me with adults who tell me that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.”
To view pictures from the 2017 Annual Meeting please click here.