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CHICAGO (April 1, 2024) – The South East Chicago Commission (SECC) with thanks to our partners at the Elizabeth Louise Smith Fund of the Chicago Community Trust and gifts from private donations are excited to announce the 2024 Shirley J. Newsome Beautification Program Grant.  

Formerly known as the Neighborhood Enhancement Grant, the program focuses on enhancing the physical attractiveness and walkability of Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, Woodlawn, and Washington Park. Since 1999, nearly $1,000,000 has been granted to over 200 projects representing community and faith-based organizations, block clubs, neighborhood schools, and park advisory councils to support neighborhood enhancement projects.

The program pays homage to former SECC Board President and community leader Shirley J. Newsome, who joined the SECC Board of Directors in 2006. For nearly 15 years, Ms. Newsome provided valuable insight, expertise, and guidance on how micro-grants were dispersed. She directly impacted over 120 projects during her involvement with the program. Ms. Newsome served on the SECC Executive Board and on the Advisory Board through her passing in December 2022.

Executive Director Diane Burnham stated, “SECC is thrilled to offer these microgrants for a new season of community investment. We will continue to amplify Ms. Newsome’s vision in changing the landscape of vacant lots and other public spaces and to work on changing the narrative of Chicago’s South Side through placemaking efforts.”

The Grant Application is open through Monday April 29, 2024.  Grant values are based upon the proposed project, with a maximum amount of $5,000 per organization. Proposed projects are required to be:

Each proposal will be reviewed by a committee comprised of representatives from the community areas and the SECC. Application deadline is Monday, April 29, 2024.

Examples of previously funded projects:

For more information, please visit or contact the us via email at to learn more about this exciting opportunity.