An initiative that pairs recent high school graduates in East Chicago with local service organizations is set to launch in June. Participants in the year-long Greenhouse Fellowship will develop a six-month service project focusing on community revitalization. April 22, 2014

News Release

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. – In the interests of revitalizing struggling communities, an innovative initiative has been created to challenge young people to design, implement and execute programs that help municipalities move toward fixing their problems and bring about true social change.

Called The Greenhouse Fellowship, the initiative is a 12-month program specifically designed to leverage the natural gift that young people have for imaginative thinking, resiliency and sociability, and putting it all to work in addressing the problems affecting their community.

The premise is simple: select 10 newly minted high school graduates based on their affinity for ideas that take them outside the “norm.” Pair them with the appropriate local agencies or non-profit organizations within the community. Then give them the opportunity to create their own social, community development or community service project over the last six months of their program involvement.

The first fellowship will focus on East Chicago, Ind., when it launches in June 2014.

Applications will be available to graduating seniors in East Chicago in the spring of 2014 on the organization's website, (For the inaugural program, East Chicago teachers also are being polled for recommendations among current seniors.)

The program's organizers – the Foundations of East Chicago (FEC) and Insight Labs – have spent more than 18 months researching the infrastructure needed to spark revitalization.

“The Greenhouse Fellowship is designed to tap into a resource that many communities overlook when it comes to redevelopment and promoting social change – the young people who will become the next generation of leaders within this community,” explained Russell G. Taylor, executive director of the FEC.

“Working with these talented young people, East Chicago will reap the benefits of their innovations and ideas when it comes to programs that really make a difference in their hometown.”

East Chicago is expected to be just the first U.S. community where the Greenhouse Fellowship plans to provide opportunities to young people. Nearly two dozen experienced advisors from academia, business, community organizing, education, government, philanthropy and science are supporting the effort by participating in an advisory board covering East Chicago and the rest of North America. Many have voiced an interest in applying the lessons they hope to glean from East Chicago back to their own communities.

The Foundations of East Chicago is dedicated to leading social change as it seeks to strengthen and improve the quality of life in East Chicago through strategic grant and scholarship programs. Since 1997, it has granted over $34 million and issued nearly 700 scholarships. It has invested in more than 250 agencies that serve and support the community. The Insight Labs is a private foundation that develops and disseminates new models for solving social challenges.

Source: Foundations of East Chicago

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