Austin celebrates first year of 5-year quality of life plan

In its first year, the campaign to improve Austin garnered $13 million in investments. That includes a record $10 million gift from BMO Bank. “It’s been a really momentous year. There’s been a lot of success,” said Darnell Shields, executive director of Austin Coming Together. The nonprofit, launched in 2010, is the driving force behind the quality-of-life plan.

Local groups take power into their own hands to stop violence

More than a dozen organizations working on Chicago’s West and South Sides met last week as part of the initiative “Operation Save Lives,” organized by state Rep. La Shawn Ford. “What we have today is a group of organizations and people that are saying that we can help our communities, and we are demanding that the state, the city, the county and the federal government support us,” Ford said.