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Something to Read Into, Auburn Gresham Unveils It's First Little Free Library!

The first of many Little Free Libraries, was unveiled at Westcott Elementary School, in the Chicago southside inner city community of Auburn Gresham. The project was brought to Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Coporation (GADC), by the United Way Neighborhood Network, (of which GADC is one of their latest cohorts), on behalf of Northern Trust Community Affairs. Northern Trust, United Way Chicago's major funding partner, wanted to give more to help local communities, promote a strategy that is very meaningful to their corporation, education. In particular, inproving literacy with a keen focus on pre-kindergarten through third grade. United Way Neighborhood Network community partners felt, GADC's Auburn Gresham GOLD Community Education Driven Initiative was perfectly aligned to Northern Trust's goals and engagement desires and asked if we were interested in working on this literacy impactful and fun community engagement project.

GADC saw this as a way to not only promote literacy, but to also use this as a way to help implement our two-generation strategy of addressing needs of our youth AND adult members of the community. What a great way to engage and get Auburn Gresham on the map and get the community reading!

"Our Children, Our Neighborhoods, Our Community"
Northern Trust supports organizations working in three core areas: education, social welfare, and arts and culture." - Northern Trust

Take a look at the fun and exciting community engagement at Westcott Elementary, the first Auburn Gresham GOLD School to Engage with our Northern Trust and United Way partners:

During the month of September, "National Literacy Month," affinity groups from all over Northern Trust Chicago, begin a major book drive to collect books to support the preK-3rd GOLD initiative, as well as to provide adult books for school parent rooms, teacher lounges and little free libraries earmarked for community sites. The employees collected over 2500 books in just two weeks!

The GADC special initiatives director, Norma Sanders, worked closely with Northern Trust and United Way to select sites not only in the five Auburn Gresham GOLD™ schools, but in parks, community sites including, SOS Children's Village, a close knit community, primiarily focusing on housing for familes raising adopted children. We also selected The Salvation Army Red Shield Center, in the Englewood community, just north of Auburn Gresham. There are other few surprise sites that have been identified, in higher traffic areas, so be sure to watch as we continue to unveil the little free libraries around the neighborhoods. We thoughtfully selected partners to ensure we were addressing the stakeholders to help us move our mission of building a "healthy," "vibrate," and "thriving" community.

This first unveiling was held, October 15, 2015, at Westcott Elementary School, 409 West 80th Street, under the leadership of Principal Monique Dockery and her amazing staff. We started with our GOLD schools not only because it aligns with our education mission. As part of our two-gen strategy, funded by a generous grant from the W.K. Kellogg foundation, we have a literacy model in place that Principal Dockery was extremely proud to show-off, as part of a reading day activity with Northern Trust and United Neighborhood Network teams. She said, "As you visit with and read to our K-3rd classes, you will find that the children are articulate, responsive and will have a deep understanding of what they are reading and hearing (listening to). All this is a result of myself and my staff completing the professional development that is also a mandatory part of the literacy program we are using to teach our kids. This is our first year implementng and it works!"

As the communty based partner who supports K-8 schools, we don't often get to see the great things that other teacher's are doing across the different grade levels. When funders and partners ask to contribute their human capital too, this is our "golden" opportunity to showcase, the impactful resources we help bring to our GOLD Schools," says Norma Sanders, director of special initiatives,who is managing the Little Free Library project.

A lot of hard work has gone into collecting books, procuring and delivering the little free library units. THANK YOU VERY MUCH to our new neighborhood partner, United Way Neighborhood Network for trusting GADC, with an important and key partner. We look forward to not only implementing the remaining nine libraries, but also continuing to build and strengthen the relationship, to cultivate a lasting partnership  with Northern Trust, to support our quality of life community initiatives.


Keywords: Chicago Public Schools, Children's Literacy Initiative, CLI, Literacy, Little Free Library, Northern Trust, Reading, United Way Neighborhood Network, W.K. Kellogg, Westcott Elementary

Posted in Education, Auburn Gresham in the News, Community Highlights


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