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Community Capacity Building

Bethel’s investments in community capacity building center on using and leveraging relationships to strengthen the community through:

Manufacturing Industry: Bethel’s efforts build support for the manufacturing sector, by growing businesses, increasing employment opportunities and connecting to the larger regional economy.

Community Impact of Massive School Closings: With nearly half of the schools on the West Side slated for closure in one year, Bethel is focused on how the closings will impact children and families directly affected and the community as a whole. Bethel works to assess the impact, support receiving schools, track displaced students, and engage with the community around the utilization of closed school buildings.

Capital Absorption Capacity: Bethel’s efforts improve the capacity of the community to benefit from capital investment through coordination, assessment, engaging a wide range of civic leaders toward the goal of strengthening capacity, and enabling and supporting a clear vision for the economic development of the West Side.

Developing an Anchor Institution: With the planned creation of a West Side campus for Chicago State University, Bethel has the unique opportunity to work with the University and community stakeholders to assure that Chicago State becomes an anchor institution for the community.

Our Organization

Bethel New Life is a 501c3 non-profit organization based in Chicago, Illinois. Formed by a small
Lutheran church on the West Side of Chicago in response to the devastation and disinvestment that followed the civil rights riots of the late 1960s, Bethel New Life has been in the business of creating social impact and community change for more than three decades.

Bethel New Life operates as a new breed of community investment organization on Chicago’s West Side which includes Chicago’s Austin, West and East Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and North Lawndale communities. We are focused on creating opportunities to bring individuals and families out of poverty and bringing about system and policy changes necessary to lift an entire community out of poverty. We invest in people who are ready to invest in themselves and we impact the systems and policies that dampen the human spirit and prevent communities from thriving.

Mission

To realize God’s vision of a restored society by creating opportunities for individuals and families to invest in themselvesand by promoting policies and systems that help communities thrive.

Vision

“If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon. And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry. Your people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored the ruined houses.” Isaiah 58:9-12

History

The riots of the late 1960s and early 1970s left the West Garfield Park community in shambles. Homeowners, landlords, banks, businesses and investors fled this West Side Chicago neighborhood. In their wake came poverty, uneployment, and despair.

But a small neighborhood church chose to make an impact in their community. Bethel Lutheran Church members, spurred by their faith, decided to fight the poverty and hopelessness. In 1979, they invested their few dollars to buy and rehab a three-flat apartment building. In doing so, they gave birth to Bethel New Life.

Over the years, Bethel New Life has led the way in the community development movement. Our initial efforts focused on real estate development and affordable housing. Like many community development corporations, we also began social programs in areas of community need through leveraging community assets. In our first three decades,Bethel built 1,200 affordable homes, advocated for social reforms, provided in-home care to the elderly, welcomed people home from prison to find legal employment, provided programs for neighborhood youth, were instrumental in the development of community investment vehicles such as the New Market Tax Credit program and led efforts at the local and national level in community development and transformation.

Today, Bethel is focused on connecting the economy of the West Side to the larger region, improving the capacity of the West Side to benefit from investment, and creating opportunities to bring individuals and families out of poverty through a focus on education and jobs creation.

Since 1979, Bethel has earned a national reputation for cutting edge initiatives and pioneering approaches that build on the people, physical assets, and faith base of the community.

Our Organization

Bethel New Life is a 501c3 non-profit organization based in Chicago, Illinois. Formed by a small
Lutheran church on the West Side of Chicago in response to the devastation and disinvestment that followed the civil rights riots of the late 1960s, Bethel New Life has been in the business of creating social impact and community change for more than three decades.

Bethel New Life operates as a new breed of community investment organization on Chicago’s West Side which includes Chicago’s Austin, West and East Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and North Lawndale communities. We are focused on creating opportunities to bring individuals and families out of poverty and bringing about system and policy changes necessary to lift an entire community out of poverty. We invest in people who are ready to invest in themselves and we impact the systems and policies that dampen the human spirit and prevent communities from thriving.

Mission

To realize God’s vision of a restored society by creating opportunities for individuals and families to invest in themselves and by promoting policies and systems that help communities thrive.

Vision

“If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon. And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry. Your people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored the ruined houses.” Isaiah 58:9-12

History

The riots of the late 1960s and early 1970s left the West Garfield Park community in shambles. Homeowners, landlords, banks, businesses and investors fled this West Side Chicago neighborhood. In their wake came poverty, unemployment, and despair.

But a small neighborhood church chose to make an impact in their community. Bethel Lutheran Church members, spurred by their faith, decided to fight the poverty and hopelessness. In 1979, they invested their few dollars to buy and rehab a three-flat apartment building. In doing so, they gave birth to Bethel New Life.

Over the years, Bethel New Life has led the way in the community development movement. Our initial efforts focused on real estate development and affordable housing. Like many community development corporations, we also began social programs in areas of community need through leveraging community assets. In our first three decades,Bethel built 1,200 affordable homes, advocated for social reforms, provided in-home care to the elderly, welcomed people home from prison to find legal employment, provided programs for neighborhood youth, were instrumental in the development of community investment vehicles such as the New Market Tax Credit program and led efforts at the local and national level in community development and transformation.

Today, Bethel is focused on connecting the economy of the West Side to the larger region, improving the capacity of the West Side to benefit from investment, and creating opportunities to bring individuals and families out of poverty through a focus on education and jobs creation.

Since 1979, Bethel has earned a national reputation for cutting edge initiatives and pioneering approaches that build on the people, physical assets, and faith base of the community.

Our Investments

Bethel New Life is a different kind of Investment Company, investing in people and communities to bring about community transformation. By making smart, strategic investments, Bethel and our community residents are transforming Chicago’s West Side into a place where people want to live, work, raise a family and retire.

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Community Economic Development

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Senior Housing

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Our work focuses primarily on the communities of Austin, East and West Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and the northern most areas of North Lawndale. These communities make up the largest neighborhood area in the Chicago region and are home to over 210,000 people, four city council wards, two state legislative districts and one congressional district.

Bethel’s core investments are in creating opportunities to bring individuals and families out of poverty, strengthening the West Side economy, and building the community’s capacity to benefit from investments through assuring that policies and systems exist that support healthy communities.

Strengthening communities also requires the transformation of policies and systems from those that support concentrated poverty to those that support healthy communities and opportunity.To disrupt the cycle of poverty in our West Side communities, Bethel is making strategic investments in education and economic development and the policies and systems that drive and support them.

Our Investments

Community Development
Business Development

  • Small Business Development Center
  • Entrepreneurship Training Program
  • New Life Community Investments
  • New Business Incubation
  • Neighborhood Business Development Center
  • Bethel Business Accelerator

Workforce Development

  • Advanced Manufacturing Program

Asset Building

  • Homeownership Counseling
  • Financial Literacy
  • Community Savings Center

Education

  • Right Start for Families
  • Brain Train
  • Whole School Network
  • Out of School Time Education Consortium
  • West Side Education Consortium

SENIOR HOUSING

  • Independent Living
  • Supportive Living