North Lawndale Employment Network Receives Neighborhood Builders Recognition

North Lawndale Employment Network has been awarded $200,000 as one of the 2023 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders. PHOTO PROVIDED BY BANK OF AMERICA.
North Lawndale Employment Network has been awarded $200,000 as one of the 2023 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders. PHOTO PROVIDED BY BANK OF AMERICA.

North Lawndale Employment Network Receives Neighborhood Builders Recognition

By Tia Carol Jones

The North Lawndale Employment Network is one of two Chicago-based organizations that have been awarded the 2023 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders grant. It is the second time North Lawndale Employment Network has received the award. It will use the $200,000 grant money to continue its mission to provide employment opportunities to residents in the North Lawndale community.


“We appreciate the intentional investment in underserved communities that Bank of America does provide,” said Jessica Butler, Chief Development Officer for North Lawndale Employment Network.


The North Lawndale Employment Network was established in 1999 and Brenda Palms has been leading the organization as its President for the last 24 years. The mission of the organization is to improve the earning potential of the North Lawndale community through initiatives that lead to economic advancement and improved quality of life. On average, it serves 1,200 people annually through programs and services.


The first time North Lawndale Employment Network received the Neighborhood Builders grant was in 2015. It was impactful for the organization to receive the award. It is the second organization to be recognized for this award twice. In addition to the grant money, an emerging leader, Leah Holmes, from North Lawndale Employment Network, along with the organization’s founding president, Palms, will receive leadership training. Palms and Holmes will bring what they learned back to the organization and enhance the curriculum development.


Butler said that the organization is all about excellence, and that the leadership training would propel them and position them for greater impact. North Lawndale Employment Network is changing the narrative about what people think and feel about the community. Not only does the organization show up for the community, the staff shows up with excellence as their guiding light.


Professional development is important for North Lawndale Employment Network because it strives to invest in the staff, so they can serve people in the way they deserve to be served – with high quality. This opportunity enables the organization to be at their best and elevate the work the staff does.


The funds Bank of America provides will help North Lawndale Employment Network expand Sweet Beginnings LLC, a subsidiary of NLEN that offers full-time transitioning jobs to returning citizens. Those employees work in the apiary that produces the honey and in the manufacturing facility to create beelove skincare products.


“It’s really leveraging the learning and teaching from the trainings home to enhance how we sell our products, how we market our products, how we invest in our participants as they come through our program, ensuring that their learning experience is top notch,” Butler said.


Instituto del Progreso Latino has also been awarded the Neighborhood Builders grant. The organization ensures the Latino immigrant community has the necessary resources and support through training, employment and education programs.


“Both of these nonprofits provide pivotal resources to local communities, helping to solve social challenges and promote equitable economic advancement," Rita Cook, president, Bank of America Chicago, said in a release. “Providing North Lawndale Employment Network and Instituto del Progreso Latino with unrestricted funding and leadership training positions them for sustainable, long-term success while demonstrating our commitment to lifting and supporting vulnerable communities throughout Chicago.”


For more information about North Lawndale Employment Network, visit www.nlen.org.

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