Planned Nonprofit Would Spread Obama Presidential Library’s Benefits

The Obama Center, planned for Chicago’s South Side, could have a positive impact on the surrounding community—and a coalition aims to create a nonprofit to ensure the neighborhood gets an economic boost from the presidential library.

Former President Barack Obama’s presidential library isn’t just going to be about honoring the nation’s first black president, though that’s part of it.

The organizers of the Obama Center, to be built on Chicago’s South Side, are said to be planning a nonprofit to manage the potential economic impact the center is expected to have on nearby neighborhoods, according to a DNA Info report. The Obama Foundation, which is acquiring the funds to build and manage the library, is expected to partner with a number of local organizations, churches, and community groups, including South Shore Works, Washington Park Consortium, and Network of Woodlawn. The city is also working to help plot out the nonprofit.

“It’s very early in its development and we wanted to make sure we’re getting community input,” explained Charisse Conanan Johnson, a director for consultant Next Street, which was hired by the city’s community trust to research how to best set up such a nonprofit.

The idea was conceived by two local pastors, Rev. Torrey Barrett and Rev. Byron Brazier, who collaborated on potential economic improvement for the South Side as Obama was trying to decide where to build the library. (He chose Jackson Park.)

The idea, says Barrett, is that the Obama Foundation would manage the library grounds, and the still-unnamed nonprofit would represent the economic interests of the surrounding neighborhoods.

“In my mind it wouldn’t replace any organization, but support them because these communities will need all the help they can get,” Barrett told DNA Info.

The presidential library will be the 14th in the National Archives and Records Administration’s presidential library system.

(DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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