On Thursday, July 7 more than 150 UCAN staff, supporters, community members and elected officials celebrated the opening of the John D. and Alexandra C. Nichols Center on our Drost Harding campus in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood. The event, which also marked the end of major construction on the new campus, represented the second phase of the multimillion project that includes the Diermeier Therapeutic Youth Home that opened in the early fall 2015.
The Nichols Center is the headquarters for UCAN’s administrative offices and several community-based programs, including Violence Prevention, Teen Parenting Services Network, Foster Parents, Transitional Living Program, Alumni Services, Diermeier Future Leaders Now, Phenomenal Woman, Project Visible Man, Transitional Teen Services, Independent Living Arrangement, Partners in Parenting and Counseling and Youth Development Services.
Several years ago, UCAN’s emerging plans to move to North Lawndale were initially received with hesitation by some residents of North Lawndale. After many meetings and listening closely to residents, UCAN crafted a strategic community relations and engagement plan that over the years built long-lasting community partnerships and provided a level of transparency concerning the project, which made it a model of community engagement and a success at contracting with minority suppliers.
During the ribbon cutting, there was a sense of pride and gratitude for the support and collaboration that fueled the extensive project. The move to the Nichols Center will enable UCAN to become more accessible and better able to serve the needs of the North Lawndale community.
“This is an incredibly exciting time in the history of UCAN. Our new campus will enable us to complement and ramp up the youth programs that we’ve managed in the community before construction even began,” said UCAN President and CEO Zack Schrantz.
Although construction for the two buildings has been completed, there is still a small gap to be filled to meet the financial goal of the capital campaign. Additional funds will cover the costs of a healing garden, soccer field, softball field and low ropes course for youth residing in the therapeutic youth home.
To make a donation or learn more about the capital campaign, please click here.