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This year South East Chicago Commission (SECC) awarded eight community beautification micro-grants to projects in Hyde Park, Kenwood, Woodlawn and Washington Park. Previously known as the Neighborhood Enhancement Grants, the awards were renamed the Shirley J. Newsome Beautification Grant Programs this year in honor of the longtime SECC Board Chair and Kenwood community leader.

In Kenwood, the Muddy Waters MOJO Museum, 4339 S. Lake Park Avenue was awarded a grant to sod and plant annual flowers in the front yard, repair and beautify the pavers from the sidewalk to the stoop and add two trees.

Muddy Waters MOJO Museum presents “Shake Your Back-to-School Blues Event” on Saturday, September 23, 2023 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm hosted by Toronzo Cannon. This free community and family event will be held at the MOJO Museum featuring live music, food trucks, front porch photos, and backpacks, supplies and crafts for the kids.

Since the museum’s city landmarking in October of 2021, it has received numerous grants for its interior and exterior renovations, including more than $1 million from the Mellon Foundation in March. In December, the museum was added to the National Register of Historic places.

The Muddy Waters Original Jam Out Museum (MOJO) will restore the former home of the famed musician and the vacant lot adjacent to it. The project is being led by Muddy’s great granddaughter Chandra Cooper with local firm BauerLatoza working on its design.

The adjacent lot will eventually also be converted into a new outdoor garden with multiple seating areas, a stage, mural, and monumental sign for the overall museum.

Since the beautification grants debuted in 1999, the SECC has awarded more than $1 million to local nonprofits, individuals, schools and garden or block clubs. In recent years the beautification grants have been fundraised via sponsors and donors, with matching grants from the Elizabeth Louise Smith Fund.

Cover photo credit:  Marc Monaghan