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I Grow Chicago’s mission is to provide a safe, inter-generational haven to children and at-risk community members. Through sustainable farming and educational programs in nutrition, movement yoga, and the arts, we foster creativity, wellness and empowerment for individuals in the community as a whole. I Grow Chicago is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization formed for exclusively charitable and educational purposes.
At I Grow Chicago, we are devoted to solving the widespread problems of violence, mental disorders, poor health, and long-term poverty that has many residents, especially in communities in the southside of Chicago, living in a state of hopelessness, despair, and relentless stress. After years of working in Chicago neighborhoods that experience higher than average instances of crime and poverty (including Englewood, South Shore, South Chicago, Roseland, Auburn-Gresham, and Woodlawn), I Grow Chicago gained is 501(c)3 nonprofit status in 2011 and decided to focus it efforts specifically in Englewood and West Englewood.
I Grow Chicago provides scientific evidence-based educational and cultural programs including yoga, meditation, physical movement, and art. These programs have already improved the lives of hundreds of community members by empowering them with tools and opportunities for self-expression, self-development, and cultural identity. Mindfulness is a technique used in both yoga and meditation that has strong scientific evidence proving that it is a way of changing the neurobiology of your own brain and improving both mental and physical health. We teach these skills for free to assist local schoolchildren and community residents learn conflict resolution, anger management, and self-regulation as a way of preventing conflict and violence.
We currently partner with three Chicago Public Schools (Harper High School, Daniel S. Wentworth Elementary School, and Luke O’Toole Elementary School) and run various programming for children and young people ages 3-26. These programs include mentoring opportunities for young men and women (ages 7-18); our Community Works program, a job training program that employs young people (ages 17-27) with an emphasis on goal setting, leadership development, and community building; I Woof I Read (Academic Enrichment/Literacy), which provides literacy support to children, while fostering the love of learning through interaction and positive engagement with dogs; our Life After School program, an after school program that combines yoga, community building, character development and homework assistance with a strong emphasis on literacy support for students ages 6-12; and our Peace Garden, an urban agriculture project that provides opportunities for environmental education, job training, and healthy eating.
Recently, we purchased a dilapidated house located at 6402 South Honore Street, which we have repurposed as a Peace House. This house will serve as a safe, positive space for yoga, meditation, mentorship, healthy community meals, and holistic community programming.
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