Your Gift Will Open Windows of Opportunity for Immigrants at PODER HQ
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Current update on Pavilion & Skylight. We are getting closer to the final envisioned design (see video to the right)!
In the City of Chicago, new residents arrive from Spanish-speaking countries in search of a better life. Successful integration however, for those unable to speak English or unfamiliar with the job market or U.S. history, culture, and customs, is elusive. The result is often underemployment despite marketable work experience or significant country of origin education. The economic implications, beyond the mental health strain and human-capital loss felt by the individual and their family, extend to local employers and our city as a whole when available positions remain open.
As an immigrant integration center, PODER prepares Spanish-speaking adults to seize opportunities through comprehensive and tuition-free English (ESL), civic education and industry-specific, job training and placement programs. Since 1997, we’ve empowered over 14,500 adult immigrants to establish successful and fulfilling new lives in the United States by placing 83% of graduates with job placement partners including eleven banks (First American, Bank of America, Chase, Centier of Indiana, Marquette, US Bank, TCF, Citibank, BMO Harris, PNC, Byline, Wintrust) and three insurance providers (Allstate, State Farm, Farmers) represented by fifteen independently owned agencies where PODER trainees benefit from a 34% increase in wages upon placement.
These numbers not only have an immediate economic impact on individuals and families but on communities and future generations as they accelerate upward mobility.
Building on a Solid Foundation
In 2015, after eighteen years in Pilsen, PODER closed our original location due to gentrification and moved administrative offices to West Lawn on Chicago’s southwest side. Six years later, after opening five direct service, satellite sites (from Brighton Park to Ashburn) and a pivot to remote instruction during the pandemic resulting in a 194% increase in enrollment, we identified a Gage Park building to serve as our regional headquarters: PODER HQ.
PODER’s vision for HQ is where economic equity, upward mobility and societal inclusion are attainable for all. The city’s first immigrant integration + job center, to be located on the corner of 55th and Homan Ave, is where windows of opportunity will open as an abandoned building for over twenty-five years will be reinvented for a reimagined PODER.
More than bricks and mortar, PODER views construction as a unique, catalytic opportunity to engage neighbors and local businesses to build long-term relationships. Our community engagement strategy has successfully garnered input on programming priorities that have informed site design. For example, limited, onsite parking will encourage public transportation usage to maximize open, free WiFi public spaces for farmers’ markets, health fairs and community celebrations.
Indoor, natural light-filled spaces, in addition to job training, will provide support services from mental health to immigration to opportunities for local entrepreneurial popups. All leading to the successful societal and workforce integration of our participants and their families with a ripple effect to be felt by neighbors, employers, and our city.
PODER HQ will be a beacon of light, inspiration, and possibility, a catalyst to widen and deepen our collective community impact. The site, as part of the area Quality of Life Plan, will revitalize 55th St while providing connective tissue between two city investment corridors of Invest South/West. But the greatest economic impact, of greater societal and workforce integration, will be felt by our clients and their families for generations to come.
PODER HQ Naming Opportunities
PODER HQ: $1,500,000
A dynamic, inspirational and state-of-the-art 7,000 square foot immigrant integration, job center & public outdoor event space will welcome our newest Americans as a gateway to Chicago and the United States. Indoor, natural light-infused spaces, in addition to workforce development will provide resources and supports based upon community input ranging from mental health to immigration legal services and beyond. All leading to the successful societal and workforce integration of participants and families with a ripple effect to be felt by neighbors, employers, and our city.
El Zócalo: The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation ($500,000)
An outdoor community plaza or zócalo, with hand-crafted benches ($7,500) and shaded by ornamental in memoriam trees ($5,000), offers free Wi-Fi and accessible power outlets to welcome visitors for events and celebrations; permeable pavers guide to HQ’s main entrance
The Atrium & Skylight: $250,000
HQ’s most unique and recognizable feature is a skylight that extends 20 feet above the roofline and 60 feet above the atrium floor. Natural light infuses all corners resulting in greater educational gains and team productivity. After-hours, the skylight is a fully illuminated beacon that transforms the atrium space below into a unique special event space for community celebrations and business events generating additional revenue for PODER programming.
Elevator & Central Staircase: $150,000
Recognized on stair risers and an elevator plaque as empowering our aspiring job candidates to reach new heights as they ascend to Phase III of our program (industry specific training + job placement services) on the second floor.
Training Rooms (Bank of America & Marquette Bank) & Assembly Hall: $150,000
Walls of glass welcome visitors to our main HQ entrance pavilion ($150,000), flanked by two job training rooms facing the zocalo. Additional training spaces on first and second floors are fully equipped with the technology needed to facilitate learning, increase digital literacy, and foster job seeker collaboration ($50,000). HQ’s largest space is Assembly Hall equipped with a moveable partition to flex from independent spaces into large gatherings for community partners, orientations and alumni celebrations ($100,000).
Community Room: $125,000
An innovative, adaptable and multi-purpose space where partner organizations, popup businesses, and residents can host meetings, workshops, private events, or offer additional resources to students and the larger community.
Conference Rooms (2): $100,000
A large meeting space, with a moveable partition to create two independent conference rooms, where PODER leadership will meet with external stakeholders and convene with staff to strategize to maximize impact.
Administrative Wing: $75,000
Walls of glass, along a second floor hallway, will outline co-working space and dedicated private offices. Natural light, cast 45 feet downward from skylight to the first floor atrium, will inspire leadership to cooperate and innovate.
Team Lounge: Mr. and Mrs. Paul J. Loftus ($30,000)
Adjacent to the administrative offices and workstations, the Team Lounge will include a kitchenette as well as informal spaces for staff to convene and build stronger community.
Green Roof: SPACECO ($30,000)
The integration of a natural element using the latest technology (including wild flowers) offer shade, conserve energy and mitigate storm water runoff at the main entrance.
Staff Workstations: $25,000
An open, adaptable space with access to file and print services, where instructors, trainers and volunteers will prep for class, grade assignments, and collaborate.
Phone & Privacy Room: $20,000
In a quiet corner of the second floor, this soundproof space offers staff including expecting mothers a private and secure area.
Zócalo Bench (7): $7,500
Situated in and around the heart of PODER HQ, each Zócalo Bench will invite and welcome those who seek respite or simply a breath of fresh air.
In Memoriam Tree Naming (7/10): $5,000
PODER HQ trees will be a living tribute, planted in honor of a loved one, and add much-needed greenery to our southwest side neighborhood.
Donor Wall: $1,000+
Prominently located in the Atrium, the PODER HQ Donor Wall will be a hand-crafted, personalized tribute recognizing each individual contributor.