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FamilyPlex Wins Chicago Neighborhood Development Award

"The Breakthrough FamilyPlex has helped me reach my full potential," said high school junior Genesis Robinson. "I found way more than an afterschool program. I found my family, best friends, and my community."

At an awards ceremony held Tuesday, February 28, Breakthrough was honored by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago at the 23rd Annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA) for its FamilyPlex, a multi-purpose community facility in East Garfield Park. Read the Breakthrough CNDA23 Press Release. The ceremony honors the top real estate development and architectural design projects in Chicago neighborhoods.

The FamilyPlex opened in January 2015 at the corner of Kedzie and Carroll avenues. It is the home of the Breakthrough Youth Network, and offers the East Garfield Park community a wide variety of amenities like access to technology, a health clinic, a coffee shop and café, meeting spaces, arts and social activities, and health and fitness options. Breakthrough has three other locations in the community: a men’s and a women’s center for homeless adults, as well as a food pantry, the Breakthrough Fresh Market.

“The FamilyPlex was a dream that began more than 15 years ago and was realized through the vision and support of our community, friends, and incredible donors,” said Arloa Sutter, founder and executive director of Breakthrough, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. “We’re just getting started. Breakthrough is going to invest in this community for decades to come. We put our stakes down. We’re here for the long-term.”

Through the FamilyPlex, the Breakthrough Youth Network offers the children, youth and young adults of East Garfield Park a wide variety of programs in sports, arts, academics, and spiritual development. It also surrounds them with a diverse network of caring adults to support their growth and expand their opportunities.

“The mission for this facility started way back in 2001, with about 10 local teenagers here in East Garfield Park,” said Bill Curry, Chief Program Officer of the Breakthrough Youth Network. “We needed another facility for the programs that were starting off at Breakthrough and they dreamt it up.”

Established in 1995, CNDA is the largest and most venerated celebration of the creativity and accomplishments that transform neighborhoods throughout Chicago. During the ceremony CNDA presented six community development awards, three Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Architectural Excellence in Community Design and two awards for personal achievement to individuals. All award submissions were extensively reviewed by teams of judges.

“For more than two decades the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design have celebrated Chicago’s neighborhoods while honoring and recognizing the outstanding achievement in neighborhood real estate development, community engagement, neighborhood planning, and building stronger and healthier communities,” said LISC Chicago Executive Director Meghan Harte. “Community development by definition is neither easy or fast, but the people and organizations who do this work in our neighborhoods have succeeded in making progress. It is our neighborhoods that provide the flavors and texture that make Chicago unique. At CNDA, we stop briefly to recognize and celebrate individual achievements and the communities that together we have created by design.”

For more information about the CNDA and this year’s winners visit