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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

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This category includes articles that apply to social good in general and may include policy, practice and other stories relevant to everyone.

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Projects Abroad Volunteers Present Typhoon Survivor With New Home

Philippine woman receives key to new house four years after Typhoon Haiyan

Projects Abroad building volunteers present the key to a newly built house to a Typhoon Haiyan survivor

Press Release – NEW YORK – October 11, 2017 – Nearly four years after surviving Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines in 2013, a local woman has been presented with the key to a new house built by Projects Abroad volunteers. Construction on the house began earlier this year, and volunteers from countries including the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom combined their efforts to build it. Projects Abroad continues to provide assistance in the Philippines in the form of rebuilding classrooms, schools, and ablution facilities, to benefit communities in the long-term.

The Philippines is not the only country where Projects Abroad volunteers are actively involved in providing support to communities that continue to suffer from damage caused by natural disasters. In March this year, Cyclone Enawo caused devastation on the island nation of Madagascar. Last month, batches of nursery saplings that had grown enough after being planted immediately after the cyclone, were re-planted in a national park by conservation volunteers. This is part of an ongoing reforestation effort by Projects Abroad’s Madagascar team. Volunteers also helped complete a bridge damaged by the cyclone to provide access to the national park.

Sri Lanka experienced large flooding in May this year, to which Projects Abroad responded by sending medical volunteers to conduct health checks in affected communities. After the devastating 2015 earthquake in Nepal, Projects Abroad immediately launched their Disaster Relief program which ran for more than a year, and today continue to send volunteers on their Building Project to construct school classrooms that were destroyed in the earthquake.

Natural disasters can set communities back for many years, who without outside assistance can struggle to recover fully. “To see our volunteers give a gift as big as a new house to someone who has been suffering for years makes doing what we do so rewarding,” says Ligaya Basalo, Projects Abroad staff member in the Philippines. “Hearing success stories encourages us to continue helping in as many areas as we can, and we are looking forward to seeing more like her receive new homes, toilet facilities, schools, etc. Our goals cannot be achieved without continued volunteer assistance, so we need more volunteers to join us to help more communities.”

When mother nature strikes, thousands can be left helpless and in need of immediate and continued intervention. Projects Abroad is always ready to help where it can, to facilitate disaster relief and to continue seeing communities recover fully and thrive once more.

About Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad was founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study. The program had its genesis in post-USSR Romania, where students were given the chance to teach conversational English. After a few years just sending volunteers to Eastern Europe for teaching, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects.

Projects Abroad is a global leader in short-term international volunteer programs with projects in 30 countries and recruitment offices in the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and the United States.

For details on volunteering abroad, visit Projects Abroad’s web site at www.projects-abroad.org.


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DKT Nigeria’s Omolara Aluko Wins 2017 Bill & Melinda Gates Institute “120 Under 40” Award

Press Release – Washington, D.C: DKT International is proud to announce that Omolara “Lara” Aluko of DKT’s Nigeria program is a recipient of the 2017 “120 Under 40” award, created by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health. The “120 Under 40” award recognizes the accomplishments of the next generation of leaders in family planning.

“Omolara’s work has been instrumental in the nationwide development and implementation of radio and television programs that discuss family planning and contraception in a refreshing, interesting and interactive manner,” says Dimos Sakellaridis, Country Director of DKT Nigeria. “We are excited that our social marketing efforts have made great strides in educating young women and couples about contraceptives- giving Nigerians the power to shape their lives and futures.”

Aluko will be one of 120 outstanding leaders given this award by the year 2020, in recognition of the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) partnership. DKT International continues to work towards its commitment to FP2020, with a goal of providing an incremental 10 million couple years of protection (CYPs) above and beyond what it would otherwise have provided by the end of 2020.

DKT Nigeria’s Honey & Banana brand, offering information and contraceptive options, has amassed over 7,000 followers on Twitter and 65,000 on Facebook in less than a year. This success on social media is the result of fun advertising, user engagement, and the integration of radio shows and TV specials. Honey & Banana campaigns have spurred some of DKT’s most recent successes in Nigeria, including the introduction of Sayana Press and the TV premiere of “Contraceptive Chat with DKT Nurses.” After just a few weeks on air, the television and radio shows generated 2,000 calls from listeners and viewers with questions of contraceptive methods and myths.

In 2016, DKT Nigeria sold over 47 million condoms, 600,000 emergency contraceptive pills, over 430,000 oral contraceptives, 33,000 implants, 51,500 IUDs and over 4 million misoprostol tablets. DKT began to offer Sayana Press injectable contraceptives in 2015, and has sold over 750,000 units. Overall in 2016, DKT Nigeria provided over two million couple years of protection (CYP) and averted 195,964 unintended pregnancies, 4,420 maternal deaths, 5,390 child deaths and 686,433 unsafe abortions.

“We are extremely proud of the work and contributions of Lara Aluko and the continued success of DKT Nigeria in reaching new users with modern contraceptives,” adds Chris Purdy, President and CEO of DKT International.


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YWCA USA Statement on Las Vegas Mass Shooting

Press Release –

Statement by YWCA USA CEO Alejandra Y. Castillo

“We at YWCA USA are shocked and horrified by the mass shooting of concert goers in Las Vegas. Fifty-eight people are dead and more than 500 injured at this time. The impact of tragic events like this is overwhelming for those who witness it, but can also impact others who have been touched by violence in the past. We must come together as a community and provide support for those who have been impacted by this devastating act of violence. Let us strengthen our communities by caring for each other and work to root out violence and hate wherever it may be.”

Learn what you can do to address violence during YWCA’s Week without Violence, October 16-20, 2017

About YWCA USA

YWCA USA is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen communities. We are one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the nation, serving over 2 million women, girls, and their families.

YWCA has been at the forefront of the most pressing social movements for more than 150 years — from voting rights to civil rights, from affordable housing to pay equity, from violence prevention to health care reform. Today, we combine programming and advocacy in order to generate institutional change in three key areas: racial justice and civil rights, empowerment and economic advancement of women and girls, and health and safety of women and girls. Learn more: www.ywca.org.


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Catch Every Kid and Costco Partner to Promote Family Flu Immunizations

The Catch Every Kid campaign from the Group Health Foundation returns for a second year with a focus on flu prevention and health for all children in Washington state.

Press Release – SEATTLE — Today kicks off the second year of Catch Every Kid, Group Health Foundation’s effort to promote childhood immunizations throughout Washington state. This year, Catch Every Kid has partnered with Costco to promote flu vaccination and prevention. Millions of people across the U.S. come down with the flu each year. And, while anyone can get the flu, kids catch it most often.

Catch Every Kid aspires to protect 100 percent of Washington children through vaccination, which is the best defense against the flu. Flu is highly contagious and can lead to serious complications such as bacterial pneumonia, other infections, worsening of chronic medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, and congestive heart failure, and potentially even death. Last year, Washington State Department of Health reported 276 flu related deaths, of which seven were from young people (aged 0-24).

“Last year, Washington state was hit hard by the flu and saw a record breaking number of fatalities. This is even more tragic because there’s a very good way to prevent flu. In fact, vaccinations help decrease the chance of getting the flu by 50 percent,” said Sam Selinger, MD, Group Health Foundation Board member. “We want everyone to have access to the life-saving immunizations they need.”

The Foundation also emphasizes the need to vaccinate your whole family against the flu early this Fall before flu season hits hard. Dr. Selinger notes, “Flu and any communicable disease can spread fast, especially with kids. Most people are contagious before they even realize they have the flu.” Healthy adults can infect others one day before flu symptoms develop, but young children and people with weakened immune systems can spread the flu even earlier. Once flu symptoms develop, people with flu are contagious and do not feel well for up to another week.

This year, getting your vaccination is even easier. Costco and Catch Every Kid are teaming up to make flu vaccinations part of your regular Costco trip: just stop into a Costco Pharmacy with kids starting at age four between October 1 and October 31. No appointment needed. You can make the stop at the Pharmacy go even faster by filling out this form prior to your visit. For children between the ages of six months and four years old, check with your local pharmacy or doctor’s office.

“We believe everyone should have access to vaccinations, and want to make it even easier to protect Washington’s residents by reaching people where they already are,” Dr. Selinger added. “In addition to getting the flu vaccine at Costco, you can also ask about other important and life-saving vaccinations for your family, such as Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR), Chicken Pox, Pertussis, Shingles, and HPV.”

The Group Health Foundation is a philanthropic organization in Washington state. Catch Every Kid is a Momentum Fund of Group Health Foundation that aspires to protect 100% of Washington state children through vaccination. We’re partnering with Costco Pharmacies across the state of Washington and Cliff Avril, a professional football defensive end, to help spread the word and provide access to immunizations.

For more information, please visit CatchEveryKid.org.


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Corporate Citizenship’s Megan DeYoung to Reveal Research at COMMIT!Forum on Fortune 50 Participation in United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Press Release – WASHINGTON — In the two years since the formation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), organizations have been working to formulate strategies that will contribute to the worldwide goals of eradicating poverty, creating a healthy planet for future generations, and building peaceful and inclusive societies.

Many organizations, however, are struggling with how – and are hungry for meaningful data that will help them plan for the future and allocate resources they’ll need to contribute to this new global development framework.

Megan DeYoung, vice president Americas of the global management consultancy Corporate Citizenship, has answers – and will reveal exclusively for attendees at COMMIT!Forum’s “Brand Taking Stands” event how Fortune 50 companies are mapping their corporate responsibility strategies to the Global Goals.

“Many companies are seeking clarity on the role they should play in the SDGs. Understanding what others do can provide useful insight, which is why Corporate Citizenship has assessed Fortune 50 companies’ actions on the SDGs.” said DeYoung, who is also a member of the Corporate Responsibility Association. “Sharing this research for the first time at COMMIT!Forum can help attendees get a sense of how they compare to peers and become inspired to take more action.”

At COMMIT!Forum, DeYoung will discuss findings extracted from a three-year global survey that shows how a variety of Fortune’s 50 sustainably minded companies are responding to the SDGs, what trends are emerging, and how this new data can serve as a roadmap for organizations that want to take action but need quantifiable ROI. The session will be moderated by John Friedman, sustainability manager at WGL Holdings, Inc., a diversified energy business providing natural gas, electricity, green energy, and carbon reduction and energy services.

A member of Corporate Citizenship’s Executive Team, DeYoung directs the consultancy’s North and Latin American practices, and advises leading companies worldwide on incorporating social, environmental, and economic issues into their strategies and business practices.

COMMIT!Forum, the annual leading event for corporate responsibility and sustainability practitioners, will convene on Oct. 10-12, 2017, at the MGM National Harbor near Washington. Attendees will have the opportunity to network, discuss, and gain professional development by attending pre-conference workshops, roundtable discussions, and sessions that will focus on the event theme, “Brands Taking Stands.”

More than 50 speakers, panelists, and interviewers from a broad range of industries will facilitate and contribute to discussions around sustainable business operations, prioritizing corporate responsibility goals, combining sustainability and profitability, brand and reputation management, sustainable and diverse workforce recruitment and retention, among many more topics.

About COMMIT!Forum

COMMIT!Forum (http://www.commitforum.com) is an annual gathering of corporate responsibility and sustainability practitioners with emphasis on networking, case studies, new research, and compelling presentations from companies committed to making progress against an ambitious environmental, social, and governance (ESG) agenda. The event is produced by the Corporate Responsibility Association and CR Magazine.


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The Birthday Party Project Launches Birthday in a Box

New Birthday Box Will Help Spread Magic and Joy

Press Release – DALLAS – September 27, 2017 – The Birthday Party Project (TBPP) has announced the launch of “Birthday in a Box,” a party in a box that will be given to children that are unable to celebrate with TBPP at their monthly celebrations across the U.S.

Birthday in a Box will be filled with birthday decorations and TBPP’s signature “My Birthday Rocks” badges in a beautiful box designed by Gifts for the Good Life. Children can decorate their own birthday banner, cupcake and hat and write down their wish and memories from their birthday.

“Our hope is that every child, despite their living conditions, can feel celebrated on their birthday,” says Paige Chenault. “The Birthday in a Box will help us reach more children in more cities across the country!”

The boxes will be delivered to foster care communities, child protective services, after school programs for underserved youth, and other children. A box can be donated through www.thebirthdaypartyproject.org for $50.

Target will sponsor the first 1,000 boxes, that will be filled with Spritz branded products. The first 1,000 boxes will be distributed in two markets.

For further information on The Birthday Party Project, visit www.thebirthdaypartyproject.org.


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SDSU to Offer Black Minds Matter Course

The course will be broadcast online and is expected to reach more than 10,000 educators nationwide.

Press Release – SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Sept. 26, 2017) — Starting in October of this year, San Diego State University professor Luke Wood will offer a nationally broadcast course called Black Minds Matters – A Focus on Black Boys and Men in Education. The course connects themes from the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement to issues Black boys and men face in today’s education system.

The class is organized around the BLM movement’s guiding principles of loving engagement, collective value, and restorative justice.

“It’s time to create a paradigm shift in the way educators view their role,” said Wood. “Educators need to understand their new role in training, preparing, and mobilizing their classrooms as sites that promote racial justice for Black males.”

In order to achieve racial justice, Wood is suggesting an approach of civil resistance against unjust policies and practices.

By civil resistance, Wood is referring to teaching strategies that empower students and communicate care, rather than methods that undervalue and criminalize them.

“I think it is important to emphasize that Luke’s research demonstrates that in our educational systems today, Black students, especially boys and men, are among the least likely to succeed by any measure,” said Joseph Johnson, dean of SDSU’s College of Education. “Our College of Education, and Luke’s course specifically, seeks to influence the improvement of educational systems in ways that will generate better outcomes for all students.”

The course has already enrolled more than 10,000 educators who will be participating in the public portion of the class via the internet. Thirty SDSU graduate students, many of whom were part of a group who asked for the course to be established, will be enrolled in the full course.

Wood and his team have established 130 broadcast sites nationwide., including at elementary schools, community centers, colleges, and universities.

The class will feature numerous guest speakers, among them Patrisse Cullors, -co-founder of Black Lives Matter and Ilyasah Shabazz,an educational advocate and daughter of Malcolm X.

The class was developed in collaboration with several outside organizations, including the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Moms of Black Boys United, Center for Organizational Responsibility and Advancement, Our Scholarship Matters and the Education Trust-West, which released the Black Minds Matter report in 2015.

“Black boys are significantly more likely to be placed into special education or exposed to disciplinary practices such as suspensions or expulsions that remove them from learning environments,” said Wood. “The Black Minds Matter course can help address these concerns by providing educators with strategies and practices that can improve their success with this critical student population.”

About San Diego State University

San Diego State University is a major public research institution that provides transformative experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom, for its more than 36,000 students. The university offers bachelor’s degrees in 95 areas, master’s degrees in 78 areas and doctorates in 22 areas. Students participate in research, international experiences, sustainability and entrepreneurship initiatives, internships and mentoring, and a broad range of student life and leadership opportunities. The university’s rich campus life features opportunities for students to participate in, and engage with, the creative and performing arts, a Division I athletics program and the vibrant cultural life of the San Diego region. For more information, visit www.sdsu.edu.


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Humanitarian And Investor Ibrahim AlHusseini Joins Rainforest Action Network Board Of Directors

Press Release – LOS ANGELES, CA (September 26, 2017) – Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has appointed Ibrahim AlHusseini to its Board of Directors.

Ibrahim AlHusseini is a humanitarian and investor dedicated to financing companies that implement market ready solutions to our greatest social and environment challenges. He is Managing Partner of FullCycle Energy LP and The Husseini Fund. As founder and Managing Partner of FullCycle Energy, he is dedicated to addressing our growing global waste crisis and financing projects that convert our costly environmental problem into clean, valuable fuel to power communities around the world. In addition, The Husseini Group has over a decade of funding ventures that embrace social enhancement and ecological sustainability with numerous notable holdings.

“I am pleased to join the Board of Directors at Rainforest Action Network. I will be joining a group of individuals who are equally dedicated to making this world a cleaner and better place, which is incredibly important to me,” said AlHusseini. “Our climate crisis is serious and Rainforest Action Network is an effective and innovative activist organization whose members understand this, in addition to the fact that clean energy is the next technological and economic frontier.”

Equally passionate about gender equality and the arts, AlHusseini supports several NGOs advancing social and cultural change in societies that adversely impact women and girls. In addition to RAN, Alhusseini serves on the boards of Synova Power, Cornerstone Capital, The Culture Project, The Global Partnership for Women and Girls and The Biomimicry Institute.

Established in 1985, Rainforest Action Network fights for people and the planet by working at the intersection of three core issues: preserving rainforests, protecting the climate, and upholding human rights. And, unlike other organizations, RAN achieves this by focusing on corporate accountability. RAN’s work challenges corporate power and systemic injustice by targeting the companies and industries that act as the greatest drivers of deforestation and climate change. RAN also has a long history of partnering with and directly supporting frontline communities who feel the greatest impact of climate change and deforestation — and who frequently hold the best strategies to protect our planet and our climate.


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Poetry Foundation Appoints Two New Members to Board of Trustees

Press Release – CHICAGO – The Poetry Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of two new board members, Eugene Y. Lowe, Jr., Assistant to the President of Northwestern University, and Angel Ysaguirre, Executive Director of Illinois Humanities, to the Poetry Foundation Board of Trustees.

“Angel and Gene bring to the Poetry Foundation Board knowledge and experience that is critical to carrying out our mission – a strong history in the cultural life of Chicago and a deep understanding and appreciation for education and social policy,” said Henry Bienen, President of the Poetry Foundation. “We are thrilled to have them join us as we continue to work to raise poetry to an ever more influential place in American culture.”

Eugene Y. Lowe, Jr. joined the senior administration of Northwestern University in 1995 and has served as assistant to the president since 1999. He also holds faculty appointments in the Religious Studies Department in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and in the School of Education and Social Policy, where he teaches in the master’s program in higher education administration and policy. From 1983-1993, Lowe was dean of students at Princeton University. He received an A.B. magna cum laude in Religion from Princeton University in 1971, and a Master of Divinity (1978) and Ph.D. (1987) from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

A historian of American religion of the social gospel, Lowe’s writings about religion, race and American culture have appeared in a number of publications. His book, Promise and Dilemma: Perspectives on Racial Diversity and Higher Education (1999) is based on his work sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

A trustee of Berea College, Lowe chairs its committee on educational policies. He is also a trustee of ITHAKA, a non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable applications of digital technology in higher education, and has served as president of the Board of Episcopal Charities and Community Services of Chicago. Lowe has also sat on the external advisory board of the Stanford University Center of the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity and was a consultant-evaluator for the United States Department of Education and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Angel Ysaguirre has been the executive director of Illinois Humanities since 2014. From 1999 to 2005, he was also the director of programs, creating programs that included The Odyssey Project, Einstein’s Revolutions, and Brown v Board 50 Years Later: Conversations on Race, Integration, and the Law. He was deputy commissioner at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events from 2012 to 2014, where he managed the City’s public art program, creative industries offices, and arts programming. From 2005 to 2012, he served as director of Global Community Investing at the Boeing Company, overseeing the company’s grant making program in 60 offices throughout the globe. He began his career in Chicago as a program officer at the McCormick Tribune Foundation.

Ysaguirre currently serves as a volunteer on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Cultural Advisory Committee and Arts Transition Team, and in the past, has served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Theater Communications Group. He was co-chair of their 2010 conference. Ysaguirre has also served as the chair of the Board of Directors for Blair Thomas & Co, and the International Contemporary Ensemble.


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Cook County Land Bank Authority Putting Affordable Homeownership within Reach of Residents with New Homebuyer Direct Program

CCLBA makes available dozens of properties through program, launches free home giveaway

Press Release – CHICAGO, IL – This fall, the Cook County Land Bank Authority (CCLBA) launched the Homebuyer Direct Program to break down barriers to homeownership and help transform communities by offering fixer-upper homes at below-market prices in neighborhoods across Cook County. As part of launching this program, the Land Bank will give away a fully rehabbed single-family home in Auburn Gresham.

The new initiative helps prospective homebuyers buy, rehab and ultimately move in to the home of their dreams. The program serves two important functions for buyers: it helps them build equity during the purchase process and lets them incorporate their own ideas into the design of their new home. Homeownership is one of the primary ways Americans accumulate wealth – buyers build equity as the home’s property value increases.

“In launching this new program, the Land Bank Authority will play a transformative role in building strong and sustainable communities,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Providing our residents with an affordable path to the American Dream – which for most is home ownership – can only serve a positive purpose for our County and City. I congratulate the Land Bank Authority’s staff and Board for their vision in seeking to better the lives of many.”

Traditionally, CCLBA has sold delinquent, vacant or abandoned properties to developers. This new initiative lets CCLBA reach out directly to the homebuyers, who then can guide the development process (including the schedule, choice of contractors and aesthetic choices about the rehab) in accordance with their preferences.

“One of the best ways to impact a neighborhood for the long term is to expand home ownership. Home ownership – especially when the mortgage is ethical – builds generational wealth. Families in neighborhoods across Chicago missed out on this opportunity over the last 40 years, and that has to change,” said CCLBA Chairwoman and Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer. “This initiative builds upon the Land Bank’s mission to reduce the number vacant buildings by filling them with not just residents, but homeowners, especially in communities hit hardest by the mortgage crisis.”

Homeownership is one of the primary ways Americans accumulate wealth, and a recent Harvard study shows black homeownership rates in Chicago have dropped to levels not seen since the 1960s. With this in mind, the CCLBA is offering properties throughout Cook County to prospective owner-occupants at below-market prices.

Through this new initiative, about 30 to 40 CCLBA properties are available to prospective owner-occupants at below-market prices. The homes, which primarily run between $50,000 and $170,000, are located in neighborhoods such as Avalon Park, Roseland and South Shore. Suburban properties are also available.

“The Homebuyer Direct Program lets us help folks who have thought about purchasing a fixer-upper before but may have been intimidated by logistical, financial or other obstacles,” said Rob Rose, Executive Director of the CCLBA. “This program helps those prospective homebuyers and targets neighborhoods where the mortgage crisis stifled a lot of community potential.”

All properties eligible for the Homebuyer Direct Program are available on the Land Bank’s website and will be updated on a daily basis. Answers to homebuyers’ frequently asked questions, recommendations for lenders and down payment assistance and an application for the program are all listed on the CCLBA website.

Potential homebuyers can work with a broker, and homes may be purchased via cash or financing. The Land Bank does not impose any income restrictions on buyers.

The Land Bank will start accepting entries for the home giveaway on October 2, 2017. Cook County residents can enter either online at the CCLBA website or in person at the Land Bank offices at 69 W Washington Street on the 29th floor.

The CCLBA is working to empower local developers, community groups and potential homeowners by giving them tools to transform their own communities from within. The Land Bank obtains tax delinquent properties for rehab and sells them at below-market rates to qualified, community-based developers to lead the rehab work. This not only helps keep revenue and jobs in the community, but it also helps these local developers grow their businesses. Then, these homes are sold to pre-qualified homebuyers, getting the once-vacant properties back onto the tax rolls.


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