CHICAGO – November 22, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn's administration today announced a $25 million Illinois Jobs Now! capital grant to build the United Neighborhood Organization’s (UNO) newest charter school, the Gage Park Campus in Chicago. Billy Ocasio, a Senior Advisor to Governor Quinn, joined Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Warren Ribley and UNO Chief Executive Officer Juan Rangel to break ground on the project, which will create 42 full- and part-time positions and 350 construction jobs.
“UNO is a tremendous community asset, and it is important to continue partnering with groups that are helping our students reach their academic potential,” said Governor Quinn. “This project will ease school overcrowding and give Chicago parents another quality option for their child’s education.”
The Gage Park Campus Charter School will be located at 3434 West 51st Street. The school will serve approximately 630 students in kindergarten through 8th grade and help relieve overcrowding that has plagued schools in many Chicago communities. The new school will be built to LEED Silver Certified Standards and is expected to open in time for the 2011-2012 school year.
“This project represents the great potential possible when state partners with community to address problems in our neighborhoods,” said Rangel. “During these tough economic times we need to find ways to get a bigger bang for the taxpayers buck. This project does just that.”
“Funding through the state’s capital plan will allow UNO to be able to devote more resources to improving classroom education, instead of construction costs, while also allowing them to remain on the cutting edge in terms of efficiency and sustainability,” said Director Ribley.
The state has invested more than $30 million this year for green, capital and digital literacy initiatives at UNO schools, administered through DCEO. In addition to UNO’s new neighborhood school, DCEO has provided support for a number of other UNO projects.
The department provided funding for a new green roof and solar heating system at Veterans Memorial Charter School Campus, as well as capital funds for construction of the facility. The state also provided UNO with $369,000 from the Digital Divide Grant Program to help provide computer training for more than 2,600 low-income individuals in Gage Park, Pilsen, Avondale, Brighton Park and surrounding communities.