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Imagine Englewood if Announced as New Owner and Operator of West Englewood-based Nonprofit, I Grow Chicago

Ramsey Carey (IEi/We Grow)

Bridget Hatch (MFS)

I Grow Chicago will become We Grow Chicago—a community-based coalition of four Greater Englewood-based and Black led organizations and Metropolitan Family Services

CHICAGO (July 28, 2022)— Today, Metropolitan Family Services (MFS) announced the transfer of control and ownership of I Grow Chicago, along with 15 properties located on the Peace Campus (6400 block of South Honore), to Imagine Englewood if (IEi)a West Englewood-based 501c3 organization now in its 25th year of operation led by Michelle (Chellee) Rashad. MFS and IEi also announced the rebranding of I Grow Chicago to become We Grow Chicago (WGC), a community-based coalition led by IEi, Metropolitan Family Services and three Black-led, West Englewood-based organizations including Growing Home, Grow Greater Englewood and Teamwork Englewood.

“This is an exciting time for Imagine Englewood if, We Grow Chicago and the Greater Englewood community,” said Michelle (Chellee) Rashad, Executive Director of IEi and WGC. “We listened to the needs of our community and will continue to build on the legacy and foundation of I Grow Chicago by providing free comprehensive services to our residents. For us, this transition presents the unique opportunity to create a sustainable umbrella organization for supporting West Englewood families so they can go from surviving to thriving. We also hope Peace Campus will serve as a new place-based model for uplifting Black and Brown communities that can be scaled across the city and nation.”

With the recommendation and approval of I Grow Chicago’s Board, MFS temporarily acquired WGC and its estimated nearly $3 million in assets in October 2021 under the condition that it would eventually be transferred to an organization deeply rooted in West Englewood. MFS immediately tapped Rashad to help establish WGC, assume the role as Executive Director and lead operations at the Peace Campus.

“We are honored to have played a vital and leading role in ensuring these community-based organizations had the opportunity to chart their own course in their own community,” said Ric Estrada, CEO of Metropolitan Family Services. “As a West Englewood native and passionate advocate, Chellee Rashad is more than equipped to carry We Grow Chicago into its next phase of growth as a leading model of how nonprofits foster community partnerships. We look forward to continuing our partnership with We Grow Chicago including collaborating on future programming.”

Founded initially as I Grow Chicago in 2014, WGC provides services with a hyper-local mission on the Peace Campus, which includes 16 properties, including two open lots, a community garden, two basketball courts and a nature playlot. The campus serves as a resource hub for community connection, skill building and opportunity by providing immediate basic needs, services and personalized support rooted in understanding and communication. Through support facilitated by MFS, the Peace Campus will also serve as satellite sites for Growing Homes, MFS and Teamwork Englewood.

Future plans for the campus include providing services such as health services and workforce development; reentry services; expanding access to locally grown, healthy foods (which is already underway); year-round youth programming; and computer classes. Additionally, there are plans to transition a property within the campus into a Youth Center where youth will learn cutting-edge digital technology.

For more information about We Grow Chicago and IEi, visit imagineenglewoodif.org. For media inquiries surrounding the transfer, reach out to Ramsey Carey (IEi/We Grow), IEI@pcipr.com or Bridget Hatch (MFS), HatchB@metrofamily.org.

About IEi

Imagine Englewood if’s (IEi) aims to strengthen and empower the Greater Englewood community through teaching local youth and their families healthy living, environmental awareness, and positive communication skills. IEi is a youth development organization that provides year-round enrichment opportunities for children 6-18 years old, including healthy cooking, fitness activities, science experiments, art projects, hip hop dancing, gardening, career exploration, leadership training, field trips and various cultural experiences. IEi also hosts health and wellness events on vacant lots, offers gardening skills classes, community service projects, and organizes Greater Englewood Unity Day – the largest community cleanup in the city of Chicago.

About Metropolitan Family Services

Metropolitan Family Services empowers 136,600 families and individuals to learn, earn, heal and thrive. Part mentor, part motivator, part advocate, Metropolitan Family Services is the engine of change that empowers families to reach their potential and positively impact their communities. Metropolitan meets people where they are throughout Chicagoland, DuPage County and beyond, supporting their needs with social services, legal services and more. Visit us at www.metrofamily.org.