July 4, 2024

30th Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards CIBC Emerging Leaders Award Winner Joel Rodriguez

The Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA) event was created in 1994 by LISC Chicago to celebrate Chicago’s neighborhoods, outstanding new community development projects, and to honor the community developers and for-profit organizations behind them. After 30 years, CNDA is the largest and most venerated celebration of the creativity and accomplishments that transform neighborhoods across the city of Chicago.

On June 25th, 2024, LISC Chicago hosted CNDA for its 30th year anniversary,. This year's event was particularly special as it acknowledged the remarkable contributions of the Southwest Organizing Project's (SWOP) Community Organizer, Joel Rodriguez. Joel was presented with the CIBC Emerging Leaders award, an accolade that underscores his significant impact on the community through various initiatives and collaborative efforts and his growing role as a leader in Chicago.

Joel has been a driving force in youth development at SWOP, creating opportunities and programs that empower young people in the community. His work with youth led to the passing of a bill aimed at getting rid of the school to prison pipeline which not only provided vital resources and support to the youth but has also fostered a sense of hope and possibility. Through these initiatives, Joel has helped many young individuals gain the skills and confidence needed to pursue their goals and aspirations, contributing to the overall betterment of the community.

In addition to his work with youth, Joel has been instrumental in workforce initiatives, addressing one of the community's most pressing issues – employment. By developing programs that provide resume building, job training and placement services, he has helped hundreds of individuals secure stable and meaningful employment. These initiatives have had a ripple effect, improving the economic stability of families and contributing to the local economy.

Joel's collaborative efforts extend to working with the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) and other community partners to establish the Empowered Communities for Public Safety Ordinance. Most recently, Joel has been involved in developing and implementing a local pilot of the national Community Learning Partnership (CLP). This project aims to create a sustainable framework for community learning and

engagement, further strengthening the community's capacity to address its challenges. By 2025, Joel and the other partners associated with CLP will have established CLP community change career pathways that offer certificates and degrees in community leadership, development and organizing along with community work experience. Joel Rodriguez's work exemplifies the power of collaboration and dedication, making him a deserving recipient of the CIBC Emerging Leaders award.

SWOP is proud to be a sponsor of the CNDAs and extends congratulations to all other winners of awards at this year’s ceremony.

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