Austin groups receive grants

August 1, 2016
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Three Austin-based community groups have been selected to receive funding from the Emerson Collective to bolster their work with young people.

They are among about 20 other recipients across Chicago that will split $350,000 in funding from the Emerson Collective, which focuses on funding for education, environment, and social justice and is led by former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The Emerson Collective selected a youth advisory council made up of six college students from across Chicago who worked with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office on how to divvy up the money, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Here are the three Austin initiatives that will receive funding: Youth Can Chicago, Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership Development, and Hope Institute Learning Academy.

Mary Denson, executive director at Youth Can Chicago, 5090 W. Harrison, said her organization will use the grant to make a documentary and create a CD of peace songs.

“Our teenagers will be talking to people at the Austin Satellite Senior Center about the community and making a film about it,” Denson said. “Our younger kids – age 8 to 12 years old – will be writing peace songs and recording an album.”

Another organization BUILD Inc.,  5100 W. Harrison, will use the funding to support work already in progress by other partners, said Mary Stonor Saunders, director of development.

“BUILD will create safe space and community space where kids can be kids, and members of the community can connect with each other,” she said.

Along with the Emerson funding, BUILD also has received a “talent search” grant of $1.2 million from the U.S. Department of Education and a $200,000 Cook County Violence Reduction grant.

“There are multiple layers to the work we do; having a block party is fun but there are people who are afraid to go out and have fun in the summer,” Saunders said. “They are worried about violence and safety, and people don’t get connected. One of the biggest risk factors is when communities are isolated.”

Saunders said BUILD will continue to create “pop-ups” within Austin and put on more events like Hoops in the Hood, community block parties and an end of the summer bash at the BUILD headquarters on Aug 26

The final Austin organization to receive funding from the Emerson Grant, HILA could not be reached for comment.

Both Youth Can Chicago and BUILD declined say how much each will receive from the Emerson Collective but expressed gratitude for the support.

“The Emerson grant is important to the foundation of what we do at BUILD,” Saunders said. “It will help create positive and happy ways of bringing people together.”

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