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The Impact of LISC Chicago's Work

Many reports, scholarly publications and journals have documented the impact of LISC's work. Take a look below:

LISC Chicago Annual Impact Report is an infographic presentation about LISC's 2014 fundraising, engagement, capacity building and program reach. During 2014, LISC Chicago invested more than $16 million in 70 community organizations across the city, sponsored 54 workshops and meetings, and connected 485 leaders to ideas and resources. More than 42,000 people were reached by LISC-supported programming in the neighborhoods. Published June 2015.


Employment and Financial Services Help Low-income People Make Progress

LISC researchers recently analyzed outcomes from 40,000 people who visited Financial Opportunity Centers all across the country as a way to improve their economic circumstances. The data show that those who took advantage of bundled services that focused on employment, income supports and financial management skills made significant, lasting progress—with incomes expanding by an encouraging 76 percent. Read the report.


What Counts for America

LISC Chicago recently contributed a chapter to a publication by the Urban Institute and the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank called What Counts for America. LISC's chapter, written by Susana Vasquez and Patrick Barry, shares lessons from LISC Chicago’s work using data to inform community development activities. A summary of the chapter is below:

The proliferation of data and new tools for data collection and analysis bring new relevance to an old question: Can community organizations prove they are making a difference? After 15 years climbing the data learning curve, LISC Chicago has concluded that effective use of data requires the same fundamentals as good community development work, such as paying attention to local context, local knowledge, and local capacity needs.


Vasquez Addresses City Club

On October 16, 2014, LISC Chicago Executive Director Susana Vasquez addressed the City Club of Chicago. Laying out a new vision for Chicago and its neighborhoods, she described the “civic infrastructure” necessary to build a stronger city.

“The Chicago we seek – the Chicago we will be proud to call home – requires a new commitment to strengthening neighborhoods by investing in civic infrastructure,” Vasquez said. “Once established, it provides a platform of relationships, knowledge and trust that enables investment, innovation and greater impact.”

Read about Vasquez's presentation. 


The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance

In the 21st century city, open data, digital access and data-informed decision making aren’t just business buzzwords. They can have a direct effect on building sustainable communities, from education to economic development to foreclosure relief.

In The Responsive City, Harvard professors Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford cover how municipal governments are using tech tools to listen to residents, improve services and forge stronger cities.

The authors hold up LISC Chicago’s Smart Communities demonstration project as an effective neighborhood-based model for “civic tech.” LISC led the program on behalf of the City of Chicago in five low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, opening new computer centers with dedicated tech training, helping local businesses to become more tech-savvy, launching community portals that provide hyper-local news, and offering after-school and summer tech programs for local youth.

“If you start with a neighborhood strategy—How do we reduce violence, make it safer to wait for a bus, or improve our schools?—you spark the imagination and motivation of the community leadership and partners,” said LISC Chicago Executive Director Susana Vasquez. Published August 2014.


The Smart Communities Evaluation Report by the Center for Policy Informatics at Arizona State Universityprovides a unique view of neighborhood-level change surrounding the $7 million digital inclusion initiative implemented by LISC Chicago and partner organizations for the City of Chicago. With data drawn from citywide surveys in 2008, 2011 and 2013 (and estimates based on multilevel models) the study compared the nine Smart Communities to other Chicago neighborhoods over this period. The Smart Communities neighborhoods experienced during the five-year period a greater rate of growth in several areas: Internet use (in any location); home broadband adoption; use of the Internet for job search, mass transit and health information. "These differences are relatively large, and it is not likely that they have occurred by chance," the authors said in the report overview, "Smart Communities had increases in Internet use anywhere and broadband access at home that were 9 percentage points higher than in other, similar Chicago community areas. The differences for activities online (job search, health, and mass transit) were even somewhat larger – between 10 and 12 percentage points." Published June 2014.


Planning Chicagoby D. Bradford Hunt and Jon B. DeVries, suggests that Chicago's proud planning tradition has been neglected in recent decades, but the authors single out LISC Chicago's approach as a bright spot. "Expanding and refining LISC's New Communities Program offers the best chance to bring coherent and comprehensive planning to Chicago's struggling neighborhoods," the authors write. "As a model of structured yet inclusive planning, the NCP builds capacity, empowers local actors, and balances vision with readily attainable goals." Chicago community development veteran Ted Wysocki reviewed the book in Shelterforce“'Planning matters, as it has in the past,' Hunt and DeVries conclude. But it needs to be more strategic than what former Mayor Richard J. Daley reportedly told a member of the Chicago Plan Commission in 1968: 'Get to the point to where the developers make money but don’t screw the city.'” Published 2013.


"Measuring Change in Internet Use and Broadband Adoption: Comparing BTOP Smart Communities and Other Chicago Neighborhoods" documents a 15 percent higher increase in Internet use in the five Smart Communities where LISC managed a City of Chicago program to connect residents to digital skills training and local computer centers. The program used trusted local partners and "tech organizers" to recruit participants and bring them to storefront computer centers, called FamilyNet Centers, that were part of LISC's network of Centers for Working Families. The study was conducted by Caroline Tolbert at the University of Iowa, Karen Mossberger at the University of Illinois Chicago, and Chris Anderson at the University of Iowa. Read the executive summary. And here's a story from the Chicago Sun-Times. Published 2013. 


Mapping Online Streams of Local News, by longtime LISC Chicago scribe Patrick Barry, traces the decline and partial rebirth of neighborhood news streams in I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society. The article references the development of community-based websites, such as gagdc.org serving Auburn Gresham,  and the subsequent development of neighborhood portals such as the Pilsen Portal. Published Winter 2013.


Research shows that Humboldt Park and other Chicago minority neighborhoods have large disparities in health indicators compared to other areas with higher-income white populations. Of 15 "health status indicators" that Dr. Steve Whitman and his colleagues at the Sinai Urban Health Institute examined between 1990 and 2005 (including lung cancer, diabetes and female breast cancer), the disparity between black and white Chicagoans worsened for 11 of 15 indicators. Nationwide, disparities between blacks and whites improved slightly over the same period. Read more. Whitman's book, Urban Health: Combating Disparities with Local Data, traces efforts in Humboldt Park and elsewhere to lesson disparities through education, outreach and lifestyle changes. Published November 2010.

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Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.

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