b&b188 Prosperity Now Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corp.

Welcome to Prosperity Now, a series interviewing non profit organizations who are part of Building High Impact Non-Profits of Color.

In this episode we interviewed Carlos Nelson and Norma Sanders about Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corp. where they work to foster and promote revitalization of the low-to-moderate income communities that they serve in the South Side of Chicago, using comprehensive community development strategies. Programming includes neighborhood business development center, small business improvement fund, and special service area, education program, community recycling program through which they become dependable for resident in order to partner with them in helping improve their neighborhoods and prospects.

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Music featured in this episode:

Out the Box by Kingpin
Make It by Change the Future
Eternia – Eternia – Yes I know by DJ Dopey, Rochester, Masia One, Eternia, Jessica Kaya

Highlights: 

Carlos Nelson: I can see my office from my house.

Carlos Nelson: Whether you’re an engineer or a brain surgeon or a high school dropout, if you have a passion for helping your community and helping your people, you can do the work that we do.

Normal Sanders: The relationships of principals working together in Chicago public schools, and not competing with each other but helping to raise the bar. To go for the gold together is something that’s unheard of, so where’s the news on that?

Pam: This consistent stuff doesn’t make the news but it’s a thing that makes a community.

Carlos Nelson: We do a lot of things that are really around building up small businesses, growing entrepreneurs and supporting existing business.

Normal Sanders: It ends up being all about the money. One of the biggest, biggest things that we work on as neighborhood business development centers is access to capital.

Normal Sanders: We’re trying to start businesses but we have 757 churches in our community [of 60,000].

Carlos Nelson: Business districts in Southside Communities and many other communities around the city of Chicago and around this country where African Americans have congregated, you find an enormous number of storefront churches that do not pay taxes–Norma Sanders: That are not businesses in the business district–and so they’re not paying in our commercial corridors and so we don’t have that tax base to build up like other communities do and other areas

Normal Sanders: The special service area has allowed us to make a difference….especially new businesses when they come in they wanna print out a sign and post it on the window. Well, this gives them some beautiful awnings with their names printed on it and it builds the confidence not just in the business owner but the community.

Carlos Nelson: We have a lot of businesses that are not locally owned [and] many own the types of businesses that unfortunately foster a lot of bad behavior. When they make their money, they take it out of the community. We are forcing a relationship with business owners that don’t give a hoot about any positive progressive things going on on the south side.

Carlos Nelson: We’ve managed to keep resources coming to help seniors age comfortably in their homes by providing them with accessibility, with windows, with doors, weatherization, new plumbing.

Normal Sanders: You think about the story of Anthony. You got the schools: his daughter is in a local school…she’s progressing. He got a job in our organization, through a program that we have with CVS Caremart. Now he got married, and so we’re building confidence in family and guess what did we say they did? They bought a home. So you got schools. You got jobs. You got homes. What are we missing?

Normal Sanders: What Prosperity Now is all about is building wealth and teaching families how to be resilient. So he made the connection, but we had everything in place for him to become resilient so he didn’t become a statistic.

Carlos Nelson: Our community, we have convened 1500 residents who have said “We need better access to health. We need better access to education. We need a job center. We need living wage jobs.” …and we think we can produce all of that in this big old one building project that will catalyze redevelopment of all the vacant land lots around.