School of the Art Institute of Chicago Awarded $25,000 from Bloomberg Philanthropies to Improve Walkability in
North Lawndale

October 12, 2021

CHICAGO—The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), a global leader in art and design education, has been selected as a recipient of one of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative grants. This $25,000 grant will help fund WA|K-H: Gateway to North Lawndale, an initiative in partnership with the Transportation Committee of the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council, Foundation for Homan Square, and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) seeking to make the area more pedestrian friendly and improve the neighborhood’s overall economic health. Bloomberg awarded grants to 26 cities, with SAIC selected as the representative for Chicago. Bloomberg is partnering with the Joyce Foundation to support this project. 

The Asphalt Art Initiative was created to fund projects that use art and design to improve street safety, revitalize public spaces, and engage residents of their communities. SAIC’s project, WA|K-H: Gateway to North Lawndale, will create design interventions to improve the area around the neighborhood’s central train and bus stop: the Kedzie-Homan Blue Line Station.

North Lawndale is a historic West Side neighborhood, but it's suffered from decades of underfunding and neglect. WA|K-H was created on the premise that walkability is critical to an area’s economic vitality. As part of the project, a team of SAIC faculty, cultural leaders, and North Lawndale high school students will work with local residents and CDOT to develop artwork, landscaping, and programming. These interventions will make the neighborhood more walkable, in the hopes that this will not only improve street and pedestrian safety, but also economic growth. 

“The WA|K-H initiative came from a continued effort to co-design projects with and for North Lawndale residents,” shared Paul Coffey, vice provost and dean of community engagement. “We're excited to have the opportunity to extend this transformational work led by SAIC faculty, with our community stakeholders and neighborhood youth.

SAIC at Homan Square launched WA|K-H in fall of 2019. Since its inception, SAIC staff and students have worked alongside North Lawndale residents to research ways to revitalize the Kedzie-Homan Blue Line Station. This latest phase of the project will be completed in the fall of 2022.

SAIC at Homan Square
SAIC at Homan Square is a community of dedicated North Lawndale residents and artists in the historic Chicago neighborhood of Homan Square. Along with artists and scholars from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, SAIC at Homan Square engages audiences and communities in collaborative processes through public programs, classes, and an artist-in-residence program. SAIC's work at Homan Square aspires to engage artists from a variety of disciplines to combine their skills and work with the community to organize projects that integrate studio art practices with civic engagement.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago
For more than 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers​, and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program consistently ranking among the top programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries​, and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate​, and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alumni and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, Jeff Koons, and LeRoy Neiman.

Press Contact
Rowan Beaird