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About the Near North Unity Program (NNUP)

The Near North Unity Program (NNUP) was formed in November 2010. NNUP seeks to promote and strengthen community cohesion in Chicago’s Near North community and to connect existing sub-communities into a resilient neighborhood by building upon local strengths through planning, organizing and human development. 

Near North is defined by the following boundaries: North Avenue to Chicago Avenue, Wells Avenue to Halsted. 

Community Vision

The Near North area is a vibrant, thriving, diverse community, built upon respect and trust. We are overcoming years of division and striving for positive change. We have the resources and talent to open new opportunities for all of our residents and stakeholders. Our history, diversity and creativity make us a model for building relationships across races, classes and generations. We strive to understand each other and reach out to the unique perspective of each person and organization in Near North. By working together we create richer relationships and expand opportunities for everyone. 

Our Principals: We Believe Statements

  • We believe our community is rich with resources - people, institutions and businesses - that can be connected. Our goal is to break down barriers and create a more cohesive community.
  • We believe our diversity and our ability to work together are our strengths. We believe there is a common good in all people and we can be good neighbors for each other.
  • We believe in the opportunity for good and change for better. We believe in the principles of “each one teach one” and “respect your neighbor as yourself.” We believe that communication is the avenue to change.
  • We believe in a positive future, taking advantage of our diversity to build connections, opportunities, and avenues for everyone in our neighborhood. 

Our Priority Areas

  • Youth and Families
  • Safety
  • Land Use and Development
  • Employment
  • Communication
  • NNUP Development and Sustainability
  • Health and Wellness
For more information or to become involved, contact Sharon Wheeler, Program Manager, 312-573-8890 or



Our History

NNUP is a partnership among Chicago’s 27th Ward, neighborhood leaders, community residents, local schools, businesses, faith leaders, community organizations, Chicago Park District, Chicago Housing Authority and others with support from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago (LISC), a nonprofit financial intermediary that channels corporate and philanthropic resources into local initiatives. 

The first six months of the Near North Unity Program were spent talking to as many people as possible in one-on-one, large group and small conversations for two reasons:

  1. To understand first hand what was important; what they liked/disliked about their neighborhood;      what did they want to see change; and what they wanted to see change
  2. To listen for emerging issues

Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. (27th Ward), saw a similar model in other communities and believed it could be helpful in Near North to build bridges between people in a very fractured community, ultimately working toward a more cohesive NN.

 A reflection of Near North’s diverse and vibrant community, members of this group meet monthly (usually the last Monday of the month), to identify and discuss community issues and goals and determine ways in which each part of the community can work together to implement strategies to address neighborhood objectives.

In 2012, a Core Team was formed from members of NNUP to act as a lead agency to establish a lasting neighborhood leadership structure and develop a process for creating community cohesion. The role of Core Team is to:

  • Engage and participate in the community process to develop the community agenda and establish lasting neighborhood leadership structure
  • Communicate with a larger community to ensure there is buy-in and support for strategies and projects
  • Ensure the implementation of projects that are in alignment with the community vision

In the first 15 months that the Near North Unity Project has been in place, NNUP has worked on a number of projects, including:

  • Identified key issue areas: youth, safety, communication, employment, beautification and leadership development
  • Coordinated “clean and green” projects
  • Supported the Bridging the Gap basketball tournament
  • Created a jazz concert series
  • Built a NNUP Facebook group
  • Formation of an Advisory Board, a diverse group of community leaders to lead the NNUP initiative going forward
  • coNNect: interactive community website for Near North    

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