Community Building Initiative

In May 2006, Chicago Mayor Daley gave Sean Harden, then the Mayor's head of Community and Interfaith Affairs, a mandate to build the capacity of community-based and faith-based organizations.  In response, the City of Chicago and Green Street Project co-founded the Community Building Initiative as a public-private sector alliance, with Green Street Project serving as the Initiative's administrator.

In 2007, we invited 1,000 community leaders to tell us how we could best support their work, during six town hall meetings at City Hall and in hundreds of small-group briefings.

What did they want?  They asked for more social capital, which we define as the number, quality and utility of relationships.   Emerging community groups wanted in-kind donations.  Nonprofit wanted more funders.   Businesses wanted access to quality workers and more customers.  Faith-based organizations wanted deeper connections with the broader community.    Specifically, the leaders suggested web-based technologies to help them create new relationships and opportunities for sharing resources.

As its first deliverable, the Initiative helped launch Openhill, as a socially responsible company to provide website and media tools to the community.