Friday, December 13, 2013

NAC Update

Thank you to all who attended the Tuesday meeting hosted by the McKinley Park Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) at SEIU offices at 2229 S. Halsted St.

Here is an update on this community meeting regarding the proposal to open a new school, Be The Change Charter School, in Bridgeport. The charter team wants to locate their new school at the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St. They will recruit students from Bridgeport, McKinley Park, Armour Square, Bronzeville and Pilsen.

The NAC reported the results of their evaluation of the Be The Change charter proposal and found that the proposal:

  • lacked depth and detail in curriculum planning.
  • had little evidence of community involvement and outreach -- 85 surveys out of a possible 114,000 residents in the target area with most from Bridgeport residents, not parents and not representative of the CPS mandated target area.
  • had only two community partners with only one sponsor offering immediate assistance.
  • Community attendees asked questions of both the NAC members and of the charter school team. Many felt that their questions were not answered by the charter school team, plus their answers were not to the point. Since CPS did not release the written charter proposal before the community comment meeting, few attendees could find out the information they requested.

The majority of the attendees felt that opening a school in Bridgeport is wrong and a poor use of our tax dollars. The Bridgeport area schools have hundreds of available seats according to CPS. And with per-pupil budgets, a decline in enrollment could cause one of our neighborhood schools to close. The new CPS per-pupil budgeting system doles money out to individual schools based on their enrollment. A new school could also affect enrollment at our great parochial schools.

When CPS issued their request for proposal to open a new school, the purpose was to relieve overcrowding in "Priority Communities".  McKinley Park was identified as a Priority Community by CPS but most of their overcrowded elementary schools are west of Western Avenue -- schools at 3542 S. Washtenaw, 4747 S. Marshfield, 4747 S. Winchester, 4600 S. Hermitage , and 3625 S. Hoyne are overcrowded. A new school at 35th & Racine would not help these children.

We are asking you to call Alderman Balcer at 773-744-6663 and tell him we do not need or want a charter school in Bridgeport.  Tell him to go to the CPS Community Meeting on Charter School Proposals Monday, December 16, at CPS, 125 S. Clark, and speak against this proposed new school on our community's behalf.

We are asking you to contact the CPS Board of Education at 773-553-1900 or via  to tell them we do not need or want the Be The Change charter school in Bridgeport.

Other ways you can voice your opinion:
A Community Meeting hosted by CPS will be held at CPS headquarters, 125 S. Clark St., on Monday December 16.   If you want to speak, sign up begins at 4 p.m. and will conclude at 6:30 pm.  Bring a valid ID with you.  The meeting will begin at 4:30 pm and end at 9 pm. Nine charter proposals are on the agenda for that night.

On Tuesday, January 7, CPS will host a Hearing on each of the nine charter proposals at CPS headquarters.

Charter school design teams will make brief presentations.  CPS Office of New Schools will share the NAC recommendation as well as its own recommendation on whether the charter should be approved or not.

Then, the public is welcome to comment.  The procedure will probably be similar to the above.
A final decision on all nine proposals will be made by the Chicago Board of Education at their January 22 meeting at CPS headquarters, 125 S. Clark Street, 5th floor at 10:30 am. Registration to speak at this meeting will begin online at on Monday, January 13, at 8:00 am.

Something else to note.... CPS had already approved 10 other new charters to open in the Fall of 2014:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

McKinley Park Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) Community Meeting:

McKinley Park Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) Community Meeting:
Tuesday, December 10
2229 S. Halsted
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

 The McKinley Park NAC has been meeting once or twice a week since October 16 to review a charter school proposal for our area. This proposed charter, Be The Change, may locate in West Bridgeport and will be recruiting students from Bridgeport, McKinley Park, Pilsen and Bronzeville. One of the NAC's responsibilities is to give a recommendation to CPS as to whether CPS should approve this charter or not. Another responsibility of the NAC is to host a community meeting so they can share the process they followed, introduce the charter Design Team, share the NAC's findings on the proposal, and hear from the community. Charter proposals are supposed to be made public on the Office of New Schools (a part of CPS) website on Thursday, December 5. Please plan on attending this meeting on December 10 and please share this information with others in Bridgeport, McKinley Park, Pilsen, and Bronzeville as well as Canaryville and Chinatown. If you are interested, here is a link to the 2013 CPS Request for Proposals for New Schools which will give you an idea of where this NAC came from:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Please Make A Call


Dear Representative Acevedo, My name is _________.

I am a resident of Bridgeport, and a member of Bridgeport Alliance. I am calling to thank you for your support in our efforts to get a 31st Street Bus on the east end of the route. I am also looking forward to our meeting with you, Senator Munoz, Alderman Balcer, and the CTA.

As this bus is very important to our community and our people, it would be quite a gift to have this meeting before Christmas, this year.

As you know, we need a bus! Let's get this done together!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Meeting Reminder and Upcoming Events

Bridgeport Alliance General Meeting
November 21, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
Trinity Lutheran, [31st & Lowe]

Upcoming Events:
November 22 - IL State Board of Education, 11-1, Thompson Center
November 23 - Power Girls Night Out - Fundraiser for Women’s Institute for Leadership supporting female political candidates
November 28 - Thanksgiving (is a word of action) at First Trinity. If you have no other plans for Thanksgiving, we would love if you would join us!
December 1 - CPS to announce 2014 school actions
December 2 - McGuane & Palmisano Park Advisory Board meetings, 6:00 pm, McGuane Field House
December 3 - So You Want to Run for Local Office at CivicLab 

December 5 - LSC kickoff 6:30-8 pm, Velasquez Tech, 2800 S Western
During the Week of December 9 - 13: Community Meeting sponsored by the McKinley Park-Bridgeport NAC on the Be The Change Charter School proposal for our area.
December 9 - CEFTF meeting 9:30 am Bilandic Bldg.
December 10 - CAPS and Bridgeport Citizen’s Group Meeting, 6:30 pm, 9th
District Police Station
December 12 - Beer and Carols (sponsored by First Trinity) at Maria’s 
December 14 - Holidazzle (fundraiser) at First Trinity 
December 18- Community Meeting sponsored by CPS on the Be The Change Charter School proposal for our area.
January 7- Hearing on proposed charters at the CPS Board of Education, 125 S. Clark.
January 22- CPS Board of Education meeting; proposed charter proposals on the agenda.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fight for the 31st STREET BUS + CTA Board Meeting

It's been a year since we won a feasibility study - the first step toward getting a bus to connect our communities, and give us access to food, hospitals, beaches, family, and so on. The recommendations to the CTA board as a result of the study are due at the OCTOBER 9th board meeting. This is big! People are important! Show the CTA we care and we mean it and we won't stop the fight!

 How you can help: 

Get on the bus - We will be gathering at Benton House (3052 S Gratten Ave) at 8:45 AM on the morning of the October 9th to take a bus to the CTA Headquarters. The bus leaves at 9:00. We will pack the CTA board room, and hold a press conference after the meeting. Then the bus will return to Benton House. Facebook Event Page Here 

Come to the meeting - If you don't want to join us on the bus you can still attend the meeting. Arrive at CTA Headquarters, 567 W. Lake Street, by 10 AM on the morning of October 9. Facebook Event Page Here 

Write a letter - Please see our blog post below for a sample to send to friends, family, elected officials and any other contacts you can think of!

Make signs - we will be gathering at First Trinity (31st and Lowe) on Tuesday, October 8, 6:30 - 8:00 ish to make signs and do something cool with the photo petitions. BYOS (Bring Your Own Scissors!)

Distribute Fliers - Fliers are attached. Please, print, post, share!  Contact for a pdf copy.

Social Media - Share the Facebook Event Page, use the Twitter Handle @31stStreetBus and @BridgeportAlly and Hashtag #31stStreetBus. Tell your friends!!!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sample letter to ask for CTA Support

Send it to everyone that you know!

Dear (Friend),

At our last conversation with CTA staff, they said that the results of the study for the full 31st Street bus route would be presented to CTA Board members at the October 9 meeting. We were told that the results were not tabulated as yet and could be not released until that meeting.

On behalf of the residents along 31st Street, from Little Village to Bronzeville, I am asking you to write or email a letter to the CTA Board to tell of your support for reinstating this bus. Address and meeting information is listed at the end of this email.

Please pass along this request to other residents who would need a convenient east west route across the City.

I understand that you have other obligations but if you could attend the meeting, your presence would add weight to this initiative.

To update you, the trial part of the route is doing fine. Local residents however, also need to get to Mercy Hospital, the lake front, IIT and other destinations along 31st Street. When St. Anthony's opens in 2015, this transit need will only increase.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions and if you can attend the October 9 meeting.

Thank you.
(your name goes here!)

CTA Board Meeting, 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, October 9, 2013, 567 W. Lake Street, Boardroom

Letters may be sent to: Gregory Longhini CTA, Office of the Secretary 567 W. Lake Street Chicago, Illinois 60661-1498 Phone: 312-681-5022 Email:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Protect CPS Kids!

Across the city, school budgets have been slashed - taking with them teachers, programs, counselors, even basic supplies. There are many proposed solutions to this problem, but they all start with the same step - letting your legislators know that you believe education is a priority in Chicago.

The short form here does all of the work for you - it quickly locates your legislators based on your address, provides you a prewritten message that you can edit any way you like, and handles all of the addressing and sending.

A few years ago, lawmakers threatened to increase class sizes to 37 students. Parents and community members just like you used this site to send over 150,000 messages to legislators, and turned back the attack on our children's - and our city's - future. So please invest 30 seconds to let your legislators know where you stand - and share this site with your friends, family and community.

Bridgeport Residents - Please call Alderman Balcer and Senator Munoz:

For Alderman Balcer (773) 254-6677
Thank you for supporting our schools. We need you to ask CPS to provide a 10 year plan that improves all of our Bridgeport/Chinatown area schools. A plan that lists the facilities, curriculum, tech, environmental and community support our children deserve. Please join us at the September 11 CPS hearing and insist that CPS create a real plan. Thank you.

For Sen. Munoz (773) 869-9050 or (217) 782-9415
The CPS 10 Year Master Facilities Plan draft needs to be revised to show how CPS intents to improve our Bridgeport/Chinatown schools. We need to know what CPS plans to improve the facilities, curriculum, tech, environmental and community support our children deserve. Please join us at the September 11 CPS hearing and insist that CPS create a real plan. Thank you.

Then, join us on September 11!
It is very important that Bridgeport Alliance and all of its allies have a presence at this meeting and provide testimony as to how they want to see CPS facilities (i.e. what type of school is in them) run over the next 10 years.
Pershing Network:
CPS 10-Year Educational Facilities Master Plan – Public Information Session
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Gage Park High School - 5630 S. Rockwell

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

31st Street Bus Update for August 2013

Hello friends!

As you may know, Bridgeport Alliance, has had significant movement with the 31st Street Bus Campaign. For over a year, Congressman Lipinski refused to meet with us directly on the 31st Street Bus Campaign and the Robin Hood Tax

This past Thursday, we brought 100 people to visit Congressman Dan Lipinski's home to demand a meeting (after a year of dodging us) and we found him gardening!

 After talking to his constituents, he agreed to set a meeting with leaders by this Friday. On very short notice, Congressman Lipinski insisted in meeting as soon at 9:30am Monday morning. Leaders met with him early Monday morning and received commitments from him to schedule a meeting with Forrest Claypool, Alderman Balcer, and Bridgeport Alliance to take actions to make the bus happen. He also committed to call Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to support the bus. Lastly, he committed to look into and make a decision as to whether he wants to publicly support the Robin Hood Tax. He committed to follow up on these items by next Tuesday!

In the meantime, Bridgeport Alliance is scheduling our monthly planning meeting with the CTA in August and September.

In addition, we are making plans to attend CTA Board meetings and join in the Bike/Roll 31st Street Bus Route event on Saturday, August 24th at 10am - 1pm! 
Will you join us? RSVP by e-mail to let me know if you want to join.  Event T-Shirts are available ($10) so be sure to say if you want one.  Please let me know by 8/16 Friday morning!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Jesus and Justice: First Trinity Summer's Eves Day Camp

Join us for fun, community building, worship, study, guest speakers, discussion and debate around Jesus, Social Justice, Liberation, Community Organizing, and Living out our Faith in the world today.

August 20-24.
Tues-Fri 6pm-9pm.
Saturday 10-Noon.

Presenters (Subject to Change)

Tuesday: Called to be Christian Doormats? Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. - David Hatch(IIRON / The Peoples Lobby / First Trinity Lutheran)

Wed: Holy Haiku: Writing The World As It Is -Jim Peters

Thurs: TBA awesomeness!!! - Kristina Tendilla (Benton House / Bridgeport Alliance)

Fri: God's Stories / Our Stories / New Stories of Justice and Love - Marge Fashing (First Trinity Lutheran Lifer)

Sat: Pastor Tom Gaulke (First Trinity Pastor) Be Not Conformed, Be Transformed: Living Romans 12, Transforming the World As It Is

For Adults and Families.
Community meals to be served each day.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bike/Roll the 31st Street Bus Route

Bike/Roll the 31st Street Bus Route Join the 31st Street Bus Cross-Town Coalition 

Sat Aug 24th 

Bike/Skate Ride 
down the 31st Street Proposed Bus Route 
and help our Communities fight for 
"Our Right to Our Route" for this needed bus route. 

We will be riding from Little Village through McKinley Park, Bridgeport, and Bronzeville to the 31st Street Beach.
Ride begins at 10am in Little Village. Hop on the "Bus" in your neighborhood!

  •  Bus Stop #1: Location TBA (Little Village) 
  • Bus Stop #2: The Video Strip (3307 S Archer Ave, McKinley Park) 
  • Bus Stop#3: Jackalope Coffee & Tea House (755 W 32nd Street, Bridgeport) There will be a 15% off for being a part of the ride. 
  • Bus Stop#4: TBA (Bronzeville) 
  • Final Stop and Press Conference: 31st Street Beach! 
After the ride we'll party and swim at the beach.
More info to come! Please share this event on facebook and twitter. #31stStreetBus

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Small Victory

Your calls, emails and visits to his office worked!

Along with 26 other colleagues in the Chicago City Council, 11th Ald. James Balcer stood with Chicago's children and signed onto the ordinance that return this year's TIF money back to CPS, fully funding our schools for the next school year.

This is a great first step, but there's still much work to be done.

Kudos to Ald. Balcer for standing with parents, neighbors and children in the 11th Ward, and city-wide.  773.254.6677

Your calls and emails helped demonstrate what an important issue this is to Bridgeport.

If you can, please call or email Ald. Balcer to say thanks for the support!

Our work isn't done - getting this ordinance proposed is only the first step to making sure our schools are fully funded.

South Branch of the Chicago River

Check it out, Jerry Mead-Lucero of PERRO, friend of Bridgeport Alliance and partner in the Chicago Clean Power Coalition is featured in this NBC5 story about Bubbly Creek.
View more videos at:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Call Alderman Balcer TODAY

7/23/2013 - Schools Action Alert - Call the Alderman!

Our schools will experience major budget deficits next year. To give you an idea of local loss:
Armour $430K
Graham $300K
Holden $150K
McClellan $150K
Sheridan $516,329
Tilden $800K

Please call Alderman Balcer and ask him to tell the Mayor to declare a TIF surplus.
Alderman Balcer's Office phone number: 773 254 6677.

Possible scripts:

a) If you just want to leave a message OR that's the only option: "Hi! I'd like to leave a message for Alderman Balcer. My name is ____ & I am a (CPS Parent/Parent/Concerned Citizen/Taxpayer/Voter) concerned about the severe budget cuts to our schools. (Pick a school or Pick all 3 above) lost $___ which will result in the loss of teachers, support staff, supplies and textbooks, impacting the education of thousands of kids in our Ward. The mayor needs to declare a TIF surplus & give money back to the schools. Mayor Daley declared a TIF surplus 3 years ago and returned $90 million to CPS. We know this can be done. We expect you to call the Mayor and ask him to declare a TIF surplus. We'll be bringing a letter by to get your support. Thank you."

b.) Maybe you actually get him on the phone: "Hi, this is _________I am a constituent and my school _______just lost _________ ( x dollars or x positions). We need Alderman _______'s help in restoring these positions. As you know, our schools weren't properly funded to begin with and we can't operate with this loss. Possible answer: Well, there's not much the City Council can do when it comes to education. You: "Actually, there was $1.7 billion in TIF accounts at the end of 2011 and $454 million was diverted from Chicago property tax revenue into TIF accounts. 53% of all TIF surplus money would go back to the schools. We would like you to call Mayor Emanuel and ask that he declare a TIF surplus so that we don't have to lose ______ positions." Possible answer: "Well, much of that money is tied up. We don't know for sure how much is in there." You: "Mayor Daley declared a TIF surplus 3 years ago and returned $90 million. We know this can be done. We expect you to call and we'll be bringing a letter by to get your support." Thank you so much!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pedal Power: Make it Safe, Convenient and Accessible

Help shape the future of bike transportation for our state.

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is developing a state-wide bicycle plan, and they're looking for your input.

Whether you live in Chicago or Cairo, ride occasionally or are an avid cyclist, they are looking for feedback on ways to improve public safety, increase accessibility and facilitate convenience.

You can learn more about the cycling plan at one of the IDOT public meetings, or by checking out the website. 

Busy cycling with no time for a meeting? Give your input to IDOT through their online survey.

Blue Cart Recycling coming to Bridgeport

Found this on the 11th ward blog today!

Blue Cart Recycling 2013

Cook County Commissioner John P. Daley and Alderman James A. Balcer, along with Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Patrick D. Thompson are happy to announce that the city’s Blue Cart Recycling Program will be rolling out in the 11th Ward very soon. Service Roll Out will be August 12 or August 19, depending on the zone. For more information, please check out the website:

Support Arts Education at McClellan

Renaissance Blackstone Chicago & Indiewalls invite you to an exclusive RLife Live Art Discovery Event, featuring the artworks of local artists Pamela Staker and CJ Hungerman, on display at the hotel's Art Hall through September 23rd.

Highlights of the evening will include:

  • Art Showcase 
  •  Live Paintings 
  • Silent Auction Raffle - Dinner for 2 at "Mercat a la Planxa" 
  • RLife Live Musical Entertainment 
  • Complimentary Hors d'Oeuvres  
All proceeds will to benefit the Arts in Education program of McClellan Elementary School. All guests who RSVP will receive a complimentary "ARTini" cocktail. To preview the works on exhibit visit:

Get tickets here

31st Street Bus Photo Petitions

Tell us where the 31st Street Bus can take you

And collect one of these sweet pins!

Stop by 31st and Lowe
Tuesday, July 16 - 5:00 - 7:00 
Friday, July 19 - 10:00 - Noon
Saturday, July 20 - 9:00 - 2:00

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

TRIVIA NIGHT: Fundraiser For Training Bridgeport's Leaders

Help Send Members of Bridgeport Alliance, Benton House, and First Trinity Lutheran for training in leadership and community organizing.

To send all of our candidates, we'll need just under $2,000.

This training has helped several of our leaders so far, and is certain to improve Bridgeport, Benton House, and First Trinity.

Current candidates for training are: 
Mary Cantore (God's Closet at 1st Trinity / St. Mary's / BA)
Claudia Hajdas (God's Closet / First Trinity / BA)
Megan McDonald (Benton House / BA)
Ambria Nicole Taylor (Benton House / BA)
Marcus Hollowell (Benton House / BA)
Jess Saldania (Trinity House / BA)

TRIVIA NIGHT: $20 per person 4 people per team (table).
Build your own team or come stag and join other local singles.

You will have too much fun.

Facebook Event Page

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

This World Is Ours: A Fundraiser for Carissa Hinz

On Sunday, July 14th there will be a fundraiser for Carissa Hinz, a beloved member of the Bridgeport community who was killed in a hit & run accident on the night of June 14th.

All money raised will be put toward a “Reward for Info” fund, in an effort to encourage someone to come forward with information that will lead to an arrest. There is a $10 suggested donation at the door.

The event will take place at the Old Eagle Room next to Polo Cafe & Catering, donated by Dave Samber. Polo will also be providing a delicious buffet selection, and cash bar will be available.

We will be having a variety of live music, an open photo booth, "make your own origami" craft tables, live painting, and much more. A variety of gift baskets & certificates will be up for raffle, donated by local Bridgeport & Chicago businesses. Resident artists of Bridgeport & the Zhou B Art Center are donating artwork that will be on display & up for silent auction.

For more info visit the facebook event page.

All Volunteer Potluck

Sorry folks, due to unforseen circumstance the potluck at Palmisano Park was cancelled. We look forward to joining them on our neighbors for the Aug 17 Family Fun Day (5-8) with kite flying, Fishmobile, nature walks followed by Watch the Stars presented by Adler Planetarium from 8-10. Details to come.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fair Economy Illinois

Members of Bridgeport Alliance participated in an action today with IIRON and Fair Economy Illinois.

From Chicagoist - More than 60 demonstrators began a protest inside the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue, calling the company “one of the nation’s biggest corporate deadbeats.” continue reading

Learn more about Fair Economy Illinois here. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Schools Action Alert - Call the Alderman!

Our schools will experience major budget deficits next year.

To give you an idea of local loss:
Graham: $300k
Haines: -$300k (Loss of 3 positions)
Sheridan: -$516k (Loss of 3 teachers & 3 teacher assistants)

The citywide parent organization, Illinois Raise Your Hand for Public Education, is gathering budget loss information from parent members. So far they have heard from 142 schools and over $82 million has been lost.

Please call Alderman Balcer and ask him to tell the Mayor to declare a TIF surplus. A

lderman Balcer's Office phone number: 773 254 6677.

 Possible scripts:
a) If you just want to leave a message OR that's the only option: "Hi! I'd like to leave a message for Alderman Balcer. My name is ____ & I am a (CPS Parent/Parent/Concerned Citizen/Taxpayer/Voter) concerned about the severe budget cuts to our schools. (Pick a school or Pick all 3 above) lost $___ which will result in the loss of teachers, support staff, supplies and textbooks, impacting the education of thousands of kids in our Ward. The mayor needs to declare a TIF surplus & give money back to the schools. Mayor Daley declared a TIF surplus 3 years ago and returned $90 million to CPS. We know this can be done. We expect you to call the Mayor and ask him to declare a TIF surplus. We'll be bringing a letter by to get your support. Thank you."

b.) Maybe you actually get him on the phone: "Hi, this is _________I am a constituent and my school _______just lost _________ ( x dollars or x positions). We need Alderman _______'s help in restoring these positions. As you know, our schools weren't properly funded to begin with and we can't operate with this loss.
Possible answer: Well, there's not much the City Council can do when it comes to education.
You: "Actually, there was $1.7 billion in TIF accounts at the end of 2011 and $454 million was diverted from Chicago property tax revenue into TIF accounts. 53% of all TIF surplus money would go back to the schools. We would like you to call Mayor Emanuel and ask that he declare a TIF surplus so that we don't have to lose ______ positions."
Possible answer: "Well, much of that money is tied up. We don't know for sure how much is in there."
You: "Mayor Daley declared a TIF surplus 3 years ago and returned $90 million. We know this can be done. We expect you to call and we'll be bringing a letter by to get your support."

Thank you so much!

If you'd like to learn more about TIFs you can listen to & view slides of the 11th & 12th Ward TIF Illumination talk from a couple of weeks ago. It was sponsored by the McKinley Park Civic Association & the Bridgeport Alliance.
Don't have time to listen? Here's some basics on TIFs:

Monday, June 24, 2013

New Charters while Public Schools Close?

Updates from the May Meeting

The BA is continuing to work with local schools by recruiting volunteers to help with reading, tutoring and office work. Teachers, principals, parents and school members met on June 6 to list their most pressing concerns. Future meetings are planned.

BA member supported Communities Organized for Democratic Education (CODE) which is working to pass a corporate tax accountability bill in the Illinois General Assembly. Closing corporate loopholes would add approximately $440 million to the state budget. Allowing the State Treasurer to post corporate taxes would allow Illinois citizens to see how corporations doing business in Illinois contribute to our economy. BA members hopped a bus to Springfield to lobby our local senators and representatives to support these bills.

The 31st Street bus effort is still going strong. State Representative Esther Golar introduced a Resolution in the House in support of the bus. The BA will be meeting next month with the CTA to learn more about the planned study of the eastern portion of the route.

The Active Transport Alliance (ATA) requested that we consider becmoing the host organization for Bridgeport. A special meeting was held and members agreed. The ATA works closely with the CTA and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) to improve public transportation, biking and pedestrian safety.

The TIF meeting on June 5, in cooperation with the McKinley Park Neighbors Association, was well attended. Members that went to the session plan to meet again.

Check out the BA display at VersionFest 13. This year's theme is “the human operating system” and what could be more human than what neighbors are doing at BA meetings.

We helped close down the coal fired power plant that was harming our children and seniors. We started meetings with the CTA to bring back our bus on31st Street. We helped parents and school members keep our local schools off the CPS closing list. We helped get a new playground for McGuane Park. And BA members are continuing to help where we can.

David Hatch presented a great deal of information at the May meeting. For those who missed this, please see his website

It is time to elect new leaders for the B A. Elections will be held on June 27 at general meeting

Friday, June 21, 2013

Missed the TIF Illumiator Workshop?

It was a packed house at the McKinley Park Library for the 11th and 12th Ward Illumination. The TIF Illumination Project lit up the 16 TIFs inside those two wards. See the presentation and listen to the audio (59 minutes).

Don't have time to listen? Here's some basics on TIFs

Parents, teachers, & community - call your Alderman. Ask your Alderman to tell the Mayor to declare a TIF surplus.

Walk with Benton House

Walk With Us June 29 To Raise Funds For Bridgeport’s Food Pantry 

On Saturday, June 29, thousands of men, women and children will gather on Chicago’s lakefront to raise funds and awareness for the fight to end hunger in Cook County.

The Hunger Walk is a fun opportunity for all types of businesses, organizations and individuals to help ensure their neighbors get the food they need.

The Benton House Food Pantry relies on the generosity of the community to offer over: 1700 families over 100,000 lbs of food each year. It is a wonderful 5k ( 3.1 mile) walk along the lake next to Soldier Field.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository, who makes Bridgeport’s Food Pantry sustainable, will contribute $12.00 in food credits for every walker who registers and attends the walk in Benton House’s name.

Register Here 

Education News

In a partnership with Raise Your Hand, a citywide parent group, we are helping to form a Ward 11 TIF Squad. CPS has drastically cut individual school budgets for next school year. Some known examples in our neighborhood include: Graham -$300k; Haines -$300k; and Sheridan -$516k. We need people to call Alderman Balcer at 773 254 6677. Ask him to call the Mayor to tell him he needs to declare a TIF Surplus to give some funds back to our schools. If you'd like to get updates on the TIF Squad and possible Toilet Paper Drives (yeah, it's that bad) in our neighborhood, please contact Jennie at

10 YEAR DRAFT MASTER FACILITIES PLAN Please read this blog post to find out more about our efforts to bring people together to provide input to CPS: Thank you!!!

Rally at the Board of Education

Please join us!!!

The Board of Education has told the city that their reckless school closings would fix the budget, provide resources and relieve overcrowding at other schools. Instead, Local School Councils have been handed draft budgets that would force layoffs and program cuts in nearly every school in the system.

Rally at the Board of Education Meeting, 125 S Clark St. Wednesday June 26th
Beginning 8:30am

The Board of Ed is tripping over itself to close schools and slash budgets. They are happy to fix their supposed budget problems at the expense of students and educators, but haven’t lifted a finger to raise money from their millionaire friends and the business community. CPS should join parents and CTU members in fighting for hundreds of millions of dollars for schools through: Returning TIF money to schools

Renegotiating predatory interest rate swaps with major banks A progressive income tax that makes the rich pay a fair share Join parents, students and educators from across the city to demand that Chicago puts our schools first! Fight the budget cuts and help win for our students.

Please invite LSC members, parents and students from your school!

Help the Police

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

BA in the News!

CPS protesters claim budget cuts could leave students without toilet paper

"So we got socked," says CPS parent Jennie Biggs. "Losing money and now we also, my principal also has to pick up supplies, so there's a real chance he's going to have to pick between teachers and toilet paper."

Friday, June 7, 2013

Schools Update

The Bridgeport Alliance hosted a School Task Force meeting Thursday, June 6, from 6:30 - 7:30 at Benton House. Our goal for this initial meeting was to start building a school and
community network of people who want to get involved in strengthening our schools and our community. We need all of our school communities to come together, learn from one another, and help each other out when needed.

Also, as a community, we should give input into the "Bridgeport-Chinatown" (CPS title of our neighborhood) section of the CPS Draft 10 Year Educational Facilities Master Plan. This, by law, was due May 1, 2013. The final 10 Year Facilities Plan is due October 1, 2013. If you would like to get involved in collecting information, checking data, and responding to this Plan on behalf of our community, please get in touch with the BA at

Please get in touch, too, if you'd like to get involved in our schools.

Here's a link to the Draft 10 Year Educational Facilities Master Plan:

Things to pay special attention to:
  • Pages 78 & 79.... It's officially due October 1, 2013 so there's a list of how CPS will engage communities this summer. You can also find the "Conclusion" here.
  • Pages 124 - 129... "Bridgeport-Chinatown" section. If anyone would like to help come up with input on this section OR if you want to check CPS data for accuracy OR if you see a glaring error, please see the email above and get in touch.
  • You can also find an individual school's "Educational Facilities Master Plan" on
    • Click on the "Schools" Tab (on the far left of the CPS homepage)
    • Go to "Find a School."
    • Type in your school's name and click Find.
    • Once on your school's page, scroll all the way down to the very last report under
    • "Report Name". Click on "Education Facilities Master Plan."

We recommend you look this over within your school community: at a LSC or PAC meeting, with teachers or with your principal, etc. We know there are some errors for some schools & we should try to get them corrected.

Thanks for your continued commitment to our schools and our community!

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Bridgeport Alliance is excited to be part of Version13: An Urban Operating System

Version Festival 13 will present projects by cultural workers, community developers, social entrepreneurs, artists, designers, boutique manufacturers, food interventionists, public space hackers, service mediaticians, urban planners, cultural geographers and adventure capitalists, to share their ideas to develop a collective hack of the current urban operating system.​ ​​

June 14 through June 22, 2013

To learn more visit

BA In the News

Read what people are saying about last night's TIF Illuminator Workshop!

Progress Illinois - TIF Program Angers Bridgeport, McKinley Park Residents

DNA Info - TIF Workshop Illuminates Complicated Tax Projects

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Playgorund at McGuane

Great news for our friends at McGuane Park.  Contact Maureen Sullivan for info.

Friends of the Parks and the Chicago Park District have received and reviewed your community’s nomination for McGuane Playground for the Chicago Plays! Playground Renovation Program.  We are pleased to announce that McGuane Playground has been selected as the one of the first playgrounds to be built in the first year of the Chicago Plays! program.

The Chicago Plays! Program has created much excitement and has gotten Chicagoans thinking about community and its importance to their parks.  There were numerous outstanding nominations from community organizations across the city of Chicago so the decision making process was a difficult one.  The commitment and enthusiasm that your community has displayed in your application was evident and both the Chicago Park District and Friends of the Parks are excited to work with your community to make this new playground a reality.

Over the next few months we will work with you regarding the anticipated construction date and playground designs. Your community will have the opportunity to select playground equipment based on the provided designs.

Congratulations on your new playground!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Let's Get Registered!

We all know that the most important thing that we can do to affect positive change is vote.  No, really, it's true.

In order to vote, of course, one must be registered.  So ask yourself:

  • Am I registered to vote?
  • Am I registered to vote at my current address?
  • Are all of my friends/colleagues/relatives/clients/neighbors/etc.  registered to vote?
  • Do I have a voter registration booth for my next event?
If you have answered "no" to any of these questions, please contact  We have deputy registrars in our midst who would love to get you and everyone you know registered.  

In the immortal words of Frank Zappa, "Don' t Forget To Register To Vote."

Monday, May 13, 2013

TIF Illuminator Workshop for 11th & 12th Wards

Let's Talk TIFS

McKinley Park Civic Association and the Bridgeport Alliance presents

  • What is a Tax Increment Finance District?
  • How many of them are there in our community?
  • How do they impact us?
  • Who gets money from a TIF and why?
McKinley Park Library (1915 W 35th Street) The presenter will be Tom Tresser, co-founder of the CivicLab, a space for civic innovation and lead organizer for the TIF Illumination Project (TIP). TIP is investigating and exposing what TIFs are doing to us on a ward-by-ward basis.

Learn More

Help Build Strong Schools in Our Community

Community Meeting
June 6, 2013, 6:30 p.m.
Benton House, 3052 South Gratten

Three of our local schools were on the CPS closing list. Community support saved them. Now we need to make them the best in Chicago. Join us on June 6 and help build strong schools in our community.

This will be a working meeting. Please bring your lists of ideas, resources, needs and problems. We hope that you will attend and we encourage you to discuss this effort with your friends and neighbors.

Sponsored by The Bridgeport Alliance School Task Force

Saturday, April 13, 2013

April News

Our Next General Meeting will be held Thursday, April 25th, 7:00 pm. At First Lutheran Church of the Trinity (31st and Lowe)

Next Saturday!  

Come out and do some dirty deeds!

Let's Talk TIFS

McKinley Park Civic Association and the Bridgeport Alliance presents

  • What is a Tax Increment Finance District?
  • How many of them are there in our community?
  • How do they impact us?
  • Who gets money from a TIF and why?
McKinley Park Library (1915 W 35th Street) The presenter will be Tom Tresser, co-founder of the CivicLab, a space for civic innovation and lead organizer for the TIF Illumination Project (TIP). TIP is investigating and exposing what TIFs are doing to us on a ward-by-ward basis. 

National People's Action

While many of us are working to beautify our neighborhood next weekend, a few folks from Bridgeport Alliance will be representing us at the NPA Annual Conference in Washington DC.  We look forward to hearing what they accomplish and learn!

Other notes from Bridgeport Alliance members, friends and neighbors:
  • Help get Nate to Netroots Nation 2013 - Vote here!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Annual Earth Day Clean Up

Save the Date!
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Chicago's City Wide Clean and Green 
Volunteer Clean Up!

We will meet at the McGuane Park Field House (29th and Poplar) at 9:00 am for refreshments, including Jackalope Coffee.

Then we will hit the park and the streets to pick up trash and have fun!

We will have some tools and supplies, but everyone is encouraged to bring gloves, sunscreen, water and any tools that they might find useful.

Supervised children and teens are encouraged to participate.

Flier attached

Businesses and Organizations wishing to participate please contact us no later than April 15.

This event would not be possible without the participation of the Palmisano Advisory Council and McGuane Park Advisory Council along with Bridgeport Alliance, Jackalope Coffee & Tea, Benton House, First Trinity Lutheran Church, Senior Suites, Bridgeport Citizen's Group, The City of Chicago, The Department of Streets and Sanitation and Friends of South Halsted!  We had a blast last year and hope you can join in the fun!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bridgeport Bus to Fight School Closings!

This Wednesday, join the Bridgeport Alliance as we march against school closings with GEM, CTU and neighborhood organizations across the entire city!

Where: Benton House (3052 S. Gratten)
When: Wednesday, March 27th. Meet at 3:00pm. BUS LEAVES PROMPTLY AT 3:15.

We are all very pleased that our neighborhood schools did not end up on the school closings list. Even though our schools have been spared (this time), CPS still plans to shut down more than 50 schools across the city.

At the February 6th Fuller Park meeting, the Bridgeport Alliance proudly declared we would be stand to fight ALL school closings.

Space is limited! To get a seat on the bus, please RSVP to Ben:



Contact: Maureen Sullivan
Tel: (773) 719-6655

March 21, 2013



Bridgeport Alliance has learned that the Chicago Public Schools have decided to reverse their earlier decision and to keep Libby, Hendricks, Dewey, McClellan, Armour and Graham schools open.

While there are other schools in the affected neighborhoods that deserve to stay open, and all the information is not in yet, Bridgeport Alliance celebrates today's decision by CPS as a victory of community activism in the face of bureaucratic indifference to economically hard-hit South
Side neighborhoods.

Earlier in the year, Bridgeport Alliance reached out to neighboring Bronzeville, Back Of The Yards, Fuller Park, Chinatown and Canaryville and found lots of concern among parents about announced closures of schools but little to no organization against efforts to close neighborhood schools.

Bridgeport Alliance hosted its Public Education Forum on February 6th 2013, bringing over 80 activists by bus to the CPS public forum in Fuller Park to add to the chorus against singling out the schools in the city's most economically vulnerable areas.  Later Bridgeport Alliance school forums and meetings with Fuller Park concentrated nearly 300 activists in opposition to the CPS closure plan.

Targeted schools remain open.  Community activism works.  But the fight is not over.

Public education as a whole is in serious danger from misguided attempts to address the effects of poverty without addressing its causes.  School performance is driven by a neighborhood's economic health, not the other way around.  Neighborhoods across the South Side have served notice that
we will not let CPS,  The Board Of Education and City Hall get this wrong

If you'd like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Maureen Sullivan, please call Mary Welter at (312) 339-4369 or email Bridgeport Alliance at

Friday, March 8, 2013

Our Fight To Save Our Schools, by Jenny Biggs

Jenny Biggs at BA forum at First Trinity,
February 6, 2013
This article is written by Jenny Biggs, Loving Mother, Community Leader, and a Leader with Bridgeport Alliance and Raise Your Hand!

In December, I attended my first Bridgeport Alliance meeting. As a CPS Mom, public education advocate, and member of Raise Your Hand (a citywide organization of parents & community members advocating for quality public education for all children), I suspected that some of our schools in Bridgeport, Canaryville, and Chinatown would be on CPS's potential school closing list. 

CPS has also talked about other “school actions” such as consolidating schools, co-locating a charter school into an existing school and school turnarounds- the school stays open and every adult in the building is fired and a new staff is hired. I knew I needed to find some local people to rally around this issue to fight for our schools and work to make our schools and community stronger. 

A friend said, “You should go to the Bridgeport Alliance.” 

I'm glad I did. 

This may be a long blog post because we have done so much in this short time.

Before I talk about the work of BA in educating our neighbors and in fighting against the possible school actions, let me share some of the details of what has been happening this
school year leading up to the coming school closure list. The official CPS school closure list has to be released on or before March 31, 2013. 

In the past, CPS has used a school's performance to determine school closures. This year, CPS is using a school's “Utilization Rate” to determine a school closure list.

  • In December, CPS released a spreadsheet that contained each school's utilization rate. This is a calculation done at Central Office using a formula.

  • On this December spreadsheet, the schools in our community that CPS labeled
“underutilized” are Air Force High School, Tilden High School, Armour, Graham,
McClellan, and Ward.

  • CPS has a new CEO, Barbara Byrd-Bennett and she set up a Space Utilization Commission that held public meetings in November and December around the city to get public input. It is very confusing what the role of this Commission is in the decision making process. In January, the Space Utilization Commission released their “first list of recommendations” to Byrd-Bennett. She took two of their recommendations: Level1 Schools will not close (this is a label CPS gives to it's highest performing schools & it's based, mainly, on test scores) and High Schools will not close. (Although, later, Byrd-Bennett backtracked & said 1 or 2 high schools could be on the list.) And just this week, they released their “final” report which says that CPS has the capacity for 80 school actions.

  • After the first report, this meant Air Force High School & Tilden should be off the list as
should Ward (Level 1). But, this also meant that Armour, Graham, and McClellan were
still at risk. When the “first list” was released on February 13, Armour was not on it.
Right now, Graham and McClellan remain in danger of being placed on the “official list”
due on 3/31/13.

  • Let me get back to the formula that CPS is using to calculate a school's Utilization rate.
Raise Your Hand analyzed the data & deconstructed the formula. What we found was
that the formula is flawed- it allows for 36 kids in a homeroom which really skews the
numbers. We found that overcrowded schools are UNDER reported and underutilized
schools are OVER reported. A school can be labeled as “efficient” with 36 students in
every homeroom. On the flip side, a school can be labeled as “underutilized” with 23
students in every homeroom.

  • The formula also allows for only 23% of a school's total classrooms to be used for
ancillary classes- meaning Special Education, art, technology, etc. The flawed formula
forces principals to make trade-offs on having rooms for art, music, Special Education,
science labs, etc. It can be hard to maintain enough space to offer a well-rounded

  • Raise Your Hand did bring the data & flawed formula information to the Space
Utilization Commission (and Frank Clark, the Commission's Chair said he did not refute
the data and agreed with it), the Chicago Education Facilities Task Force, and the CPS

  • Raise Your Hand has also found, via walk throughs of various schools, that the reality
within our schools is quite different from what shows up on the CPS spreadsheet. Let's look at Armour as an example: CPS reports they have 29 classrooms. In reality, they have only 22 due to an ADA project and a Target Library Grant. 

When I read aloud the list of Bridgeport, Canaryville and Chinatown “underutilized” schools at December's BA meeting, there were audible gasps and a lot of shaking heads.
After the meeting I spoke individually to almost everyone. BA members were very concerned and wanted to get involved in this issue. 

From that meeting, a small Education Committee was formed within BA. We've met almost weekly since mid-January to plan events and outreach activities. We've worked hard to include every school community in our area, underutilized or not, as we see the value and power of everyone joining this fight for all our schools and for our community.

Our first event was on February 6, when we hosted a Community Forum and Direct
Action for Our Neighborhood Schools sponsored by the Bridgeport Alliance, Chicago Teacher's Union, Parents 4 Teachers, Raise Your Hand and Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation. 

140 people came out to the Community Forum to hear what was happening with the potential school closings in our own neighborhood. When we planned the Feb. 6th Forum, we had no idea that the Pershing Network (our Network within CPS) would be hosting it's first “Community Engagement” meeting on the same night at 7:00 at Fuller Park. In planning our event, we realized the enormous importance of getting people to Fuller Park to be present and, possibly, speak to our Network. We adjusted our original plan and cut the Forum down to 30 minutes and added a Direct Action into this night. We provided a bus to Fuller Park and encouraged everyone to get over there to fight for our schools. With a full bus and many cars, at least 80 of us arrived at Fuller Park ready to rally! 

Reverend Tom Gaulke brought down the house and brought lots of attention to our schools in a very passionate speech he delivered as the second speaker of the night. After the speech and after a few chants, those that arrived on the bus, walked out of the meeting. 


These “Community Engagement” Network meetings are not a civil, engaging process. 

Schools are begging to remain open. Not everyone gets a chance to speak. CPS asks questions that pit schools against other schools. The format CPS wants to follow- schools take turns speaking, then schools attend breakout sessions run by independent facilitators- feels like a show to make it look like they are engaging community. 

Catalyst Magazine and the Tribune found that the Walton Family Foundation- Walmart- is funding these independent facilitators that run the breakout sessions. 

Walmart has a clear agenda of privatization. 

That night at Fuller Park, we needed to send a strong message to CPS that they will not be able to close our schools without a fight and that CPS can not engage us in this manner. Instead of staying at this Network meeting and being a part of the farce, we said our piece, made noise as a unified front, and walked out.

The next day, the Network team came out to Armour to have a meeting with the staff.

The Network felt that, due to the structure of the meeting the night before, Armour did not get a fair chance at being heard. Word about the Network coming to Armour spread among parents and community like wildfire. When the meeting started, about 60 people- teachers, parents, community members and some press- were in the classroom sharing the wonderful things that Armour offered the community. It was a very emotional, from-the-heart meeting that BA was proud to be a part of.

On February 13, CPS released a list of 129 schools that “remain under consideration for closure to be discussed in round 2 of community meetings.” 

As was mentioned earlier, Armour is not on this list of 129 but Graham and McClellan still are. BA has attended parent meetings at Graham and McClellan and we are actively working with these two school communities as we all make plans for next steps. We have met wonderful people at each of these schools and we have learned so much about each school:

  • Did you know that Graham has 2 buildings? This definitely has an impact on their
Utilization Rate. With 2 buildings the school needs more classrooms for ancillary
classes- art, music, Science lab, etc.- because you can't have kids crossing a campus
throughout the day to get from one building to another to attend various classes.

  • Did you know that Graham has a beautiful auditorium that allows for a school
Orchestra and school Choir? They performed before the 2nd Pershing Network
meeting and they are quite good!

  • Did you know that McClellan houses an Autism Cluster program? They have 3
classrooms solely dedicated to students with Autism. By IL state law, these
classrooms can have no more than 8 students without an Aide, but can go up to 12
students with an Aide. CPS, in it's flawed formula, allows each of these classrooms to
hold 30 students each. CPS did (just last week) visit the school and make adjustments
to the Utilization Rate- McClellan went from 64% to 69%- still labeled “underutilized”.
However, no correction was made to reflect these very important self-contained Autism

  • Did you know that McClellan has 19 Community Partnerships? The parents, teachers,
principals, and surrounding community have creatively solved many issues and
received necessary resources that CPS will not provide via these partnerships.

To continue the discussion that our community started and to continue to fight for our
schools and our community, we hosted a School Closings Meet-Up Workshop on February 19 at Benton House, two days before the Pershing Network's next “Community Engagement” meeting. Our goal was to keep everyone connected, to give an update on what was now happening, to allow schools time to work together to plan for the upcoming Network meeting, and to reiterate that we need to fight together. About 60 people attended and we accomplished quite a bit that night. 

There is still time to fight and get more schools off this list AND we need to fight as a community and say, “No school closures! No co-locations! No turnarounds! No school consolidations!”

On February 21, the Pershing Network hosted their 2nd round of meetings. There are 7
schools in our Network on this “first” list of potential school closures. At this meeting, our
Network split up the schools into three different areas of Fuller Park. 

McClellan, Parkman and Sherman were in the Main Auditorium. Graham and Hendricks were in the East Gym. Dewey and Libby were in the West Gym. It was an exhausting night trying to get from area to area to hear what the schools had to say and to show support to each of these schools in our community. Each school had 15 minutes to present information on their school. After the schools were done, there was time for community members to speak if they had signed up to do so. 

Many of these schools came out in force, wearing school T-shirts, and waving signs. They all had great things to share about their school and how it fits in their community.

Where are we at now? 

Well, we are all waiting for that final list due to come out on March 31. From there, there will be more “Community Engagement” meetings as we get closer to the late May CPS Board of Education meeting when the CPS BOE will make the final judgment on our schools. 

As for the BA, we continue to stay in touch with the schools in our community. We continue to meet with parents and educators and talk strategies. We continue to meet as an Education Committee on this issue and to discuss the bigger picture- How do we strengthen all of our schools? How do we get our entire community together to support these schools? Can we, as a community, come together and write a community plan
for education? 

We are planning to host more Education Forums over the coming months to educate our neighbors on issues that schools face and to encourage everyone to get involved
in our schools. 

We have really accomplished a lot in less than 2 months but there is still so
much more to do. 

If you'd like to get more involved, please contact Bridgeport Alliance at We look forward to working with you!