The following is an excerpt from a post posted online on The BlockClubChicago.org in November 2020:
“ENGLEWOOD — A shuttered Englewood school will get a second life providing second chances to people leaving the prison system.
Granville T. Woods Elementary, 6206 S. Racine Ave., is the future home of the Reentry Holistic Life Center, a facility that will house job training and others programs designed to help Englewood’s most vulnerable residents and boost the local economy.
Woods was one of 50 schools closed by Chicago Public Schools in 2013, rapidly falling into disrepair shortly thereafter.
Nicknamed the “Regenerator,” the venture is part of the Go Green on Racine initiative launched by the Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN), Teamwork Englewood, Residents Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.), and E.G. Woode. It was one of several finalists for the Chicago Prize, coming in second to Auburn Gresham’s proposed urban farming campus.
The Regenerator would offer dormitory-style housing for participants in an on-site job training program. It would also be home to a neighborhood pharmacy and a legal clinic.
The facility would also serve as an innovation hub where residents can take cooking classes, tend to a “food forest” garden and an upcycling and creativity lab.
It is one piece of the Go Green on Racine plan, which includes a Fresh Market, a entrepreneurial incubator, and affordable housing.
While getting control of the site has been an adventure for the team — the Board of Education only recently approved the transfer of the property to the city’s Department of Planning and Development, which will turn it over to them in a few months — organizers told Block Club that, in the end, it will have all been worth it to salvage a building that had been “criminally neglected.”
“When we walked through the building, it was very emotional. Why was this acceptable? How can you just allow a 60,000 square-foot facility to stay vacant, vandalized, and neglected? It just speaks to everything we’re trying to address in this moment,” said Rami Nashashibi, IMAN’s executive director.
Current participants in IMAN’s Green Reentry program are receiving training to help rehab the building, which will take months, said the team.
The $12 million project is being partially funded by the Crown Family Foundation and Islamic Relief USA, a humanitarian agency dedicated to ending poverty. The Regenerator also caught the attention of Marcus Lemonis, host of CNBC’s “The Profit,” who has committed an undisclosed amount of support, and the group is in talks with other private entities in hopes of closing the gap on remaining funded needed within the next year.
Stakeholders would not disclose how much additional funding is needed.
With the community in mind, the project will be Black-led from start to finish, with Bowa Group serving as general contractor and architecture firm Wheeler Kearns in charge of design.
“We’re unapologetic about that. It has to be Black with everything, quite frankly, and we’re being very explicit about that,” Nashashibi said.
The Reentry Holistic Life Center is set to open in 2022.”
Watch the full post on The BlockClubChicago.org