GWTP's mission is to develop model programs and policy initiatives linking the employment and training of the neighborhood workforce with local economic development efforts and the needs of small and mid-sized employers.
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May 30, 2013
West Town Academy Senior Luncheon
June 6, 2013
Woodworking Training Program Graduation
June 20, 2013
West Town Academy Graduation
Recently at GWTP
April 12, 2013
West Town Academy Career Day
March 28, 2013
Shipping and Receiving Training Program Graduates 21 trainees
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Illinois Senator Dick Durbin Visits GWTP,
Pledges Support for Effective Job Training
Chicago – With critical funding for job training threatened by steep Congressional budget cuts, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin visited Greater West Town Community Development Project’s (GWTP) Community Career Training and Economic Development Center, to call for continued public investment for effective programs.
Durbin "talks shop" with GWTP program trainees, who demonstrated their
work products and discussed the need for technical workforce training.
Senator Durbin met and thanked two local employers,
Dave Bochniak of Chicago Booth Manufacturing and James Marks of Bird-X,
Inc. for their support and participation in GWTP's Community-Business
Job Training Partnership. “These programs work. By actively involving
employers, who guide the curriculum to meet the needs of their
marketplace, this is a true ‘job creation engine,’” noted Durbin.
Twenty-seventh ward alderman, Walter
Burnett, echoed the Senator’s sentiments. “I have supported this
organization for many years, going back their old [Fulton Street]
location, because I know these programs are effective. I’ve seen many graduates hired by good local companies, which of course is a win-win for our whole community.”
GWTP’s track record is impressive. Throughout
the deep recession, during which GWTP’s inner-city communities
witnessed a 150% increase in unemployment, the agency kept hope alive,
placing over 87% of vocational training graduates in local, living-wage
earning jobs. “The credit goes to the community-business partnership model,” stresses GWTP Executive Director Bill Leavy. “We succeed by serving as the link between disadvantaged community residents who need jobs and local employers who require a skilled workforce.”
In addition to GWTP’s Woodworking and Solid Surface Manufacturing and Shipping and Receiving training programs, Senator Durbin and Alderman Burnett visited the West Town Academy (WTA), the agency’s alternative high school for Chicago Public School dropouts. “The dropout crisis and the unemployment crisis are interrelated,” noted WTA principal, Keisha Davis-Johnson. “Without earning at least a high school diploma, followed by post-secondary education or certified job training, one cannot hope to compete in today’s global economy.”
U.S. Department of Labor awards Greater West Town Project $1.5 Million for Young Adult Ex-Offender Services
June 25, 2012, Chicago - GWTP has received one of 21 federal grants awarded
to community based organizations across the country to fund the GREAT
(Gaining Re-integration through Education, Advocacy and Training)
Opportunities program, which provides education, training and support
services to youth and young adults returning from the juvenile justice
Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis, noted that the awards will “help
vulnerable youth receive the training and support they need to gain
valuable job skills and improve their long-term employment prospects.”
Program participants will earn high school diplomas and
“We appreciate the Department of Labor’s program support, which will
allow us to expand and strengthen education and employment services for
ex-offender youth of our community”, noted GWTP’s Executive Director,
Community service learning and work experience, integrated with
GWTP’s West Town Academy’s comprehensive alternative high school
curriculum, are integral aspects of the GREAT Opportunities program. Key
community partners Blocks Together, Humboldt Park Social Services (Center for Changing Lives), Growing Power, North Lawndale Employment Network, and Global Network Development Center help
provide service learning and internship opportunities. These agencies,
along with over 40 other supporting community service partners and the
office of Cook County Juvenile Probation and Court Services, will
provide coordinated recruitment and referrals and wrap-around support
services for program participants.
“We are grateful for the broad support of our community agency
partners and local employers for this grant application, and for their
help in our agency’s work to meet the needs of our community’s many
struggling, at-risk and underserved young people,” said Keisha
Davis-Johnson, West Town Academy Principal.
For more information on the GREAT Opportunities Program, click here.
West Town Academy: Creating Educational and Economic Opportunity in the Face of the High School Dropout Crisis
|Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norington-Reaves addresses WTA's 2012 Graduating Class.
In June 2012, Greater West Town’s West Town Academy celebrated the success of our 14th Graduating
Class. Ninety-two young people – all former high school dropouts –
received their High School Diplomas, the largest graduating class in the
14-year history of the Academy. 57% of our 2012 graduates are going on
to community colleges, 24% are enrolled in 4-year universities, and 9%
will be pursuing advanced career-related technical training. Others
have already secured employment, or plan to join the U.S. Armed Forces.
Class of 2012 exemplifies the success of our community-based and
community-driven strategy to expand educational and economic opportunity for at-risk youth and the communities in which they live.
For decades, Chicago’s public schools have struggled to retain, educate and graduate young people of color, particularly African American and Latino males. The high school dropout crisis is complex, chronic
and ongoing, and the consequences for individuals, families and
communities are enormous. In GWTP’s focus service areas of the Near West
Side, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park and Austin, less than half of our
young people complete high school in 4 years. Less than half of our
young people have the educational preparation needed to succeed in life. Chicago Public Schools’ high schools in these neighborhoods all suffer from four-year dropout rates of 50%-60%.
AN EFFECTIVE COMMUNITY RESPONSE: THE WEST TOWN ACADEMY
enrolls former Chicago Public Schools drop-outs ages 17-21 and helps
our at-risk young people get a fresh start in life by providing them
with a second chance to earn a high school diploma. Since Greater West
Town moved into its state-of-the-art Community Career Training & Economic Development Center at 500 N. Sacramento Blvd in the Fall of 2010, our capacity
to serve high school dropouts in these disadvantaged communities has
greatly expanded. The West Town Academy Class of 2011 was 67; in 2012,
the graduating class has grown by leaps and bounds to a historic high of
92. WTA will eventually enroll 200 former high school dropouts per
African American Festival "More than just..."
At West Town Academy, students are encouraged to study, acknowledge and
embrace different cultures. Every year in anticipation of African
American History Month, Academy teachers and students collaborate to
plan and hold an African American Festival. Not only is the festival a
celebration of African American culture, it is an exploration of
history, the arts, society, politics, and economics. Through this year’s
home-room study projects, original music and dance performances, and
student-designed interactive activities, students expanded their
knowledge of the local, national and global contributions made by
African Americans. They also discovered and expressed their own special
talents as well. The theme of this year’s Festival was “More Than Just
…” They learned that African American celebrities they studied were
“more than just . . . “ , athletes, performers, and millionaire
entrepreneurs; they were also social change activists, community
leaders, innovators and trend setters in the arts, and philanthropists.
Students and their guests visited each homeroom to see presentations of
what each homeroom team learned about African American history and
culture. The students also planned and held an Academy assembly. This
year’s guest speaker was Dr. Conrad Worrill, Director of Northeastern
Illinois University’s “Jacob Carruthers Center for Inner-City Studies.”
An author, activist, teacher, and scholar, Dr. Worrill explained the
origins of African American studies and the African American History
Month observance – first proposed by renowned African American historian
Dr. Carter G. Woodson in Chicago in 1926! He also shared his own
first-hand experiences in civil rights struggles in the U.S. Dr. Worrill
stressed to students the importance of making wise choices in life,
urging them to become “more than just” one facet of themselves, but
rather to use all their gifts to contribute back to their community and
to humanity as a whole. different cultures. Every year in anticipation
of African American History Month, Academy teachers and students
collaborate to plan and hold an African American Festival. Not only is
the festival a celebration of African American culture, it is an
exploration of history, the arts, society, politics, and economics.
Through this year’s home-room study projects, original music and dance
performances, and student-designed interactive activities, students
expanded their knowledge of the local, national and global contributions
made by African Americans. They also discovered and expressed their own
special talents as well. The theme of this year’s Festival was “More
Than Just …” They learned that African American celebrities they studied
were “more than just . . . “ , athletes, performers, and millionaire
entrepreneurs; they were also social change activists, community
leaders, innovators and trend setters in the arts, and philanthropists.
Some West Town Academy students unveiled the debut of a music video they
created, while others read original poetry, and another team performed
dances. The Academy also welcomed a special guest performer -- 7-year
old singer Trinity Bonafé – who demonstrated that she is “more than
just” a seven year old. All of the home-room projects, performances and
activities emphasized the importance of understanding our heritage and
background, while growing to become “more than just” a member of one
group into a contributing member of a broader community. Academy
Principal Keisha Davis-Johnson ended the program with a salute to the
students for their hard work and self expression in creating the
Festival, and their success in demonstrating the positive power that
young people can have. Every year in October, the Academy students and
staff also plan and hold another major cultural celebration, the Latin
American Heritage Festival.
Community Dedication & Open House Draws Over 400
to Greater West Town's "COMMUNITY CAREER TRAINING & ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT CENTER" -
The Dream Becomes a Reality!
December 9th, 2010 Greater West Town’s staff, Board members, and the
community dedicated Greater West Town’s new Center at 500 N. Sacramento
to the service and revitalization of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Student “ambassadors” from West Town Academy welcomed and signed in
guests, while the SON DEL VIENTO Folkloric Ensemble greeted them with
dazzling vocal and dance performances in the Academy’s new Multi-Purpose
Room. Quickly the crowd swelled to more than 400 people! Among those
guests: Local employers with longstanding Community-Business
partnerships with GWTP’s Adult Placement and Industrial Skills Training
programs; local and state officials; community residents; colleagues
from other community service agencies; current GWTP Program
Participants; and alumni from all the programs, eager to see GWTP’s new
GWTP Board Member Rev. Gerald Hicks gave the Dedication of the new
Center at a handsome podium designed and built by Woodworking program
participants, and spoke of the mission, purpose, and future of the
agency – to serve and empower local residents by providing expanding
educational and economic opportunities to all who take part in Greater
West Town’s programs.
READ MORE warehouse help
A Vision realized . . . New Community Training Center Completed! . . . Expanded Operations Begun!
In October 2010, Greater West Town Project completed construction and
moved expanded operations into its new home in the community at 500 N.
Sacramento Blvd. GWTP transformed an unused, outmoded 55,000 sq.ft.
factory into a modern, state-of-the-art, energy efficient facility. The
Center has been recognized nationally as a model community development
initiative linking the education and training of disadvantaged area
residents with economic development efforts and workforce needs of local
The Center houses the West Town Academy Alternative High School where
out-of-school youth return to earn their diplomas and prepare for
careers, the Woodworking and Shipping and Receiving job training
programs in partnership with local industry, and the Business Incubator
that will provide affordable “green” space for start-up companies
committed to local hiring.
The new Center will enable Greater West Town Project o significantly
expand educational and economic opportunity to Chicago residents from
struggling disadvantaged communities, nearly doubling the number of
community residents GWTP can serve.
Get the details about the educational and economic benefits that the new
Center will generate for the community: Link to Community Career
Training and Economic Development Center.
How is the New Community Center funded? READ MORE
October 30, 2009
US Treasury Secretary Geithner Visits GWTP
Hails Programs and Development Plans as National Model.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recognized GWTP’s training programs
and development plans as national models for community economic
development while announcing a major increase in Federal funds for
investment and low income communities across the country. Secretary
Geithner visited GWTP’s training center along with state, federal and
local officials on Friday, October 30th to promote the Obama
administration’s expansion of the New Market’s Tax Credit Program that
Greater West Town has used to help finance its Community Career
Education & Economic Development Center, which is currently under
construction at 500 N. Sacramento. READ MORE
Ortiz got a job for a math teacher