The Firehouse Community Arts Center is Selected as Part of Inaugural Cohort of Grantees in New Chicago Blackhawks Foundation and A Better Chicago Partnership

One West Side is a three-year initiative to invest at least $2 million in leaders from Chicago’s West Side as part of efforts to create greater opportunity for youth in their own communities

CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks Foundation and A Better Chicago announced the inaugural cohort of grantees, including The Firehouse Community Arts Center, today to launch a new partnership focused on equipping local leaders and fueling programs and services that enable Chicago’s youth to thrive at all stages of life.

The partnership, One West Side, is a three-year initiative that will invest at least $2 million over three years in Chicago’s West Side, which includes some of the city’s underserved and under-resourced neighborhoods.page1image255552page1image249600

“We plan to use the funds to expand our youth (15-21) in-depth violence prevention programs – six months in length, with the focus on developing one’s own Purpose, Authority & Character our pedagogy regarding violence prevention, as well as workforce development and training”
Pastor Phil Jackson


One West Side is focused on strengthening organizations deeply embedded in their communities with exceptional leaders poised to expand their impact. Collectively, the selected grantees reach Chicagoans at every stage of life – from birth to young adulthood – supporting education, social-emotional learning, mentorship opportunities, skills training and leadership development.

“We are so excited to launch this partnership with the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation and support this inaugural cohort of grantees,” said A Better Chicago CEO Beth Swanson. “One West Side is an example of how we will focus on investing in community-based, high-impact initiatives. These organizations were developed in the same communities they serve – communities most impacted by systemic racism and the current pandemic, communities that have dealt with systemic inequities for far too long. This inaugural group of leaders is already doing powerful work to empower youth in their neighborhoods, and this investment will allow them to deepen and expand their effort”

In addition to The Firehouse Community Arts Center, the inaugural cohort of One West Side grantees includes:

  • Austin Childcare Providers Network: Under the leadership of Ruth Kimble, Austin Childcare Providers Network is developing a collaborative pilot to ensure that children leave early childcare providers ready for kindergarten by creating continuity of learning and practice among childcare (pre-K) providers and elementary schools.
  • The Bloc: Founded by Jamyle Cannon, The Bloc provides a meaningful physical outlet for youth through boxing as well as academic coaching and mentoring.
  • Cluster of Care Community Hub (West Side United): An initiative of West Side United under the leadership of Ayesha Jaco and Tenisha Jones, the Hub will provide students and their families with wraparound services and resources conveniently located within the school building.
  • VIP Program (Firehouse Community Arts Center): Through the VIP Program, Phil Jackson and the Firehouse Community Art Center is focused on the prevention and interruption of violence by providing young adult men who are often perpetrators of violence with mentorship, leadership development and access to skills training and job opportunities.
  • MAAFA Redemption Project: Under the leadership of Marshall Hatch, the MAAFA Redemption Project is an initiative in West Garfield Park that provides at-risk emerging adult men with leadership development, employment, housing and a host of customized wraparound supports to meet the unique needs of each participant.

“One West Side is about coming together to invest in those who know their communities best: leaders from the West Side, creating opportunity for the West Side,” said Sara Guderyahn, Executive Director of the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation and Vice President of Community for the Chicago Blackhawks. “This initiative pairs the incredible platform of professional sports with A Better Chicago’s philanthropic expertise and management resources to support our neighbors who share in the Blackhawks’ deep commitment to the communities around the United Center.”

A Better Chicago and the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation will officially launch the One West Side partnership at noon on Monday, September 28, in a virtual panel discussion featuring each of the leaders and moderated by Chicago Blackhawks Community Liaison and former player Jamal Mayers.

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About A Better Chicago

A Better Chicago is fighting poverty by leveraging the collective power of Chicagoans who want to make our city more equitable for everyone. We raise funds through public donations and direct those resources to support low-income, underserved communities. We find high-potential, high-impact programs and leaders that serve young people from cradle to career. Then, we invest both dollars and strategic support to empower organizations to grow and make an even greater impact. We know that giving our young people the support and tools they need to thrive—a great education, a wage that can sustain a family, the ability to buy a home and live in a safe community—can lead to breaking the cycle of poverty for this generation and generations to come.

Since 2010, we have raised more than $40 million, invested in dozens of nonprofit organizations and supported over 100 capacity-building projects—ranging from strategic planning to leadership development—to strengthen the organizational capacity of our grantees. In total, our portfolio serves over 32,000 youth annually in the Chicago area. Learn more at

About the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation

As the Chicago Blackhawks’ official charitable arm, the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation works to create a healthier, smarter, more secure world for children and families across Chicagoland. By providing access to programming and resources that make a positive impact, the organization strives to invest in Chicago’s youth, support local families in need and honor the sacrifices of others in addition to growing the great game of hockey. For more information, please visit