Bethel New Life announces West Side Forward, an organization laser focused on closing the equality gap through career development, entrepreneurship and business development for residents on the West Side of Chicago
Chicago, Ill. - Bethel New Life announced this week the formation of West Side Forward, which will focus on economic development programming and industrial development investment in the communities of Austin, West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, North Lawndale and Humboldt Park. The new organization serves as the tactical implementation of the 2015 report “West Side Forward” that Bethel New Life released documenting bold action required to generate wealth and transform the collective standard of living on the West Side of Chicago.
In recent years income generating and wealth building initiatives, under the banner of West Side Forward, have garnered an annual economic impact of over $5,000,000 to West Side Communities through new business revenues and wages earned by economic development program participants. “As a part of the strategic shift, we have consciously realigned the organization’s resources in the last few months, so that all of our emphasis is placed on what we do best, and what is most impactful for the community, moving the West Side Forward,” said Ed Coleman, president and CEO of West Side Forward. “The impacts of our economic development initiatives have been clear-cut, and the new structure allows us to focus on achieving our vision of West Side economic transformation resulting in a thriving community. We know more is needed, and we will evolve our current initiatives, as well as apply more resources into influencing industrial investments resulting in wealth building opportunities for local residents.”
For forty years, Bethel New Life has recognized and met the challenges that have plagued the communities we serve. Since 1979, Bethel has been providing opportunities for West Side residents in various ways. Under the leadership of Vauna Hernández, Bethel New Life will continue to provide safe and affordable senior housing, provide space for Mary Crane Day Care Center, I Care Ministries Afterschool Program and the University of Illinois Extension’s Nutrition program. Bethel New Life provides affordable office lease options for community businesses and popular community gathering spaces Amberg Hall and The Chapel.
"One of the strengths of Bethel New Life has been to keep its fingers on the pulse of the community and respond to those changing needs. This has allowed Bethel to weather changes in the real estate market, economic downturns and political climates that challenged our neighborhoods,” said Hernández. “We now stand ready to reaffirm our mission, vision, and values and get back to the business of acting out our faith by rebuilding our community.”
Bethel New Life and West Side Forward will continue providing opportunities for individuals, families and the business community to access pathways of building a prosperous future and collectively improving the standard of living on the West Side of Chicago.