When we’re at our best, people understand that our programs aren't just about individuals, they're about the community," says Greater West Town Community Development Project (GWTP) Executive Director and Founder Bill Leavy. "They're about empowering people to be community resources, community leaders, and community assets."
Since 1988, GWTP has earned a reputation as one of the top performing community based education, employment, and training providers in Chicago. But its mission goes much deeper than excellent programs and consistent performance.
At its core, GWTP's strength can be found in four essential principles around which its programs have been designed and executed:
GWTP responds to these needs by offering a broad range of model programs that address the interrelated problems of the community, such as low educational achievement, limited job skills and employment opportunities, and poverty related family stresses. These programs combine "old-fashioned" approaches with necessary innovations, supported by aggressive but thoughtful advocacy that often challenges the status quo.
Uniquely, the agency’s strongest advocates and strongest assets have always been its participants. GWTP encourages participants to seek not only the improvement of their own lives, but to become instruments of positive change in their families, at their workplace, and in the broader community by identifying with the agency, its programs, and its mission of community development.
"Its not about us ‘fixing’ individuals," says Mr. Leavy. "It’s about us building institutions that work for the community and the community can participate in and support. If the participants don't experience the value and believe in what we're doing, then surely we have missed the mark."