Grantee Partner Receives Honor from Chicago Mayor

Congratulations to our grantee partners at New Life Centers of Chicagoland, recent recipients of the Mayor’s Medal of Honor, an annual award presented by Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot to honorees who have demonstrated a passionate commitment to public service, to uplifting residents of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods, and to bettering the lives of all who reside in the city.

“So thankful for our amazing staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to love on the young people of Chicago. We did this together,” said Matt DeMateo, executive director of New Life Centers.

Since the pandemic began, New Life Centers has expanded its mentoring to 400 additional youth through Choose to Change, sports, after-school and mentoring programs, including their La Semilla program, which received a $100,000 grant from We Raise in 2019. New Life’s Street Outreach and Resiliency Services teams grew and continue to walk, love, and mourn with youth and their families, and the youth-led Pan de Vida food pantry distributed fresh produce to over 2 million people.

“As the City continues to recover from this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and its lingering impacts on residents, it is more important than ever that we highlight those who have supported their neighbors and communities through it all,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Chicago is a city of compassionate, hardworking residents and it is my privilege to honor those who have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others.”

With the help of the grant from We Raise, La Semilla provides after school programming and education to students in the Little Village community. Each day the students are provided a nutritious meal, help with their homework, tutoring, reading instruction, character development lessons, gym time, art, cooking classes, and technology time. The program nurtures a safe environment for all children, recognizing the need of many of our youth to experience a respite from violence in the neighborhood.

“The support La Semilla has received from We Raise has been a huge blessing,” said DeMateo. “Two years ago we were at risk of ceasing La Semilla programming due to lack of funding and shifts in leadership. Through our partnership with We Raise, we have been able to build a more sustainable future for La Semilla.”

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