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About Us

The Blue-Island/Robbins Neighborhood Network

The Blue Island–Robbins Neighborhood Network (BIRNN) is about YOU. We bring together community members, leaders, and organizations to drive the change YOU want to see in Blue Island/Robbins.

To solve tough problems in the community, it’s not enough to do your part – we must work together to have a collective impact. Through the Neighborhood Network Initiative, The United Way of Metropolitan Chicago and Metropolitan Family Services are working to bring together the right partners and resources to provide neighborhood–specific solutions and enhanced community services.

A Strong Network + United Agendas = Progress

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Areas of Focus

Social-Emotional Wellness

We want to decrease the number of health disparities by promoting comprehensive health services through a collaboration of healthcare providers/partners who serve the Blue-Island/Robbins communities by increasing access to and utilization of health services.

Healthy Eating & Active Living

We want to reduce the incidences of food insecurity by bringing a grocery store to the area and promoting healthy lifestyles to increase the overall health and livability of the communities.

Financial Health and Education

We want to increase access to economic opportunities to improve the
household income of members of the Blue-Island/Robbins communities. This includes ensuring access to mainstream benefits, vocational and educational resources to improve access to living-wage jobs with the intended outcome of increasing the number of self- sustaining households.

Resident Advisory Council

Residents have an opportunity to work with the Network to address barriers to progress and to implement a strategic plan that enables them to live a life of fulfillment

United Way of Metropolitan Chicago Neighborhood Network

Operating as a newand innovative approach to community solutions, Neighborhood Networks (NN) are United Way of MetropolitanChicago (UWMC) led coalitions of community partners providing neighborhood-specific solutions to unique community challenges. UWMC works with a lead p artner and nonprofits to deliver enhanced services in education, income, and health care through a central location, usually a middle school or community center.

UWMC acts as a co-coordinator among network partners to establish shared goals, deliverables,timelines and measurements to ensure accountability toward outcomes which include more high school graduates, more financially stable households and more families with access to quality preventative health care.

Our Bold Goals

THE BOLD GOALS created by each NN community can be through collective impact.Collective impact is the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific problem. There are five conditions necessary to bring about collective impact:

• Common agenda – Common agenda is a shared vision for change including a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions.

• Shared measurement – Shared measurement is the a ct of collecting data and measuring results consistently across all participants ensuring efforts remain aligned and participants hold each other accountable.

• Mutually reinforcing activities – Participant activities must be differentiated while still being coordinated through a mutually reinforcing plan of action

• Continuous communication – Consistent and open communication is needed across the many players to build trust, assure mutual objectives, and appreciate common motivation.

• Backbone organization – Creating and managing collective impact requires a separate organization(s) with staff and a specific set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative and coordinate participating organizations and agencies.

The United Way of Metropolitan Chicago and Metropolitan Family Services hopes that by spreading the word of Collective Impact, they will encourage collaboration between a variety of groups including government, non-profit, institutions, funders, and other organizations and be a catalyst for moving the community forward. We are working to put together a group to communicate the idea of Collective Impact throughout the Blue-Island/Robbins community
with hopes that it will inspire others to join a collective cause and be a useful model for addressing social issues that affect our communities.

Strategic Goals

Sustainability
Our overall financial goal is to raise$900K over the course of three years. The purpose of this goal is to support the various community initiatives as well as grow the BIRNN organization through hiring staff.
Infrastructure
• Develop/Growth organization to support the increased needs of the community by adding employees, an Executive Director, and opening a new office space. The purpose of this goal is to establish an organization equipped to become an independent network.

• Increase the capabilities of other organizations associated with the network by offering training and funding opportunities. The purpose of this goal is to build stronger community networks through collaboration.

Programming

• Enhance the experience and effectiveness of the services and programming within the networks so that the community members are equipped to change their lives. The purpose of this goal is to provide high-quality services that the community wants and needs.

Community Engagement

• Improve community engagement to develop leaders and civic partnership and influence to be included in community’s decisions. The purpose of this goal is to incorporate the community leaders in the activities of the network and to also be a thought partner to the civic decisions that are made.

Community Initiatives

• Obtain business investment within the community to support area needs (access to healthy lifestyle opportunities, job opportunities, etc.) including a grocery store and business influx. The purpose of this goal is to grow the financial stability of the communities that are being served

Strategic Goals

Sustainability

Our overall financial goal is to raise$900K over the course of three years. The purpose of this goal is to support the various community initiatives as well as grow the BIRNN organization through hiring staff

Infrastructure

Strategic Goal: Develop/Growth organization to support the increased needs of the community by adding employees, an Executive Director, and opening a new office space. The purpose of this goal is to establish an organization equipped to become an independent network. Strategic Goal: Increase the capabilities of other organizations associated with the network by offering training and funding opportunities. The purpose of this goal is to build stronger community networks through collaboration.

Programming

Strategic Goal: Enhance the experience and effectiveness of the services and programming within the networks so that the community members are equipped to change their lives. The purpose of this goal is to provide high-quality services that the community wants and needs.

Community Engagement

Strategic Goal: Improve community engagement to develop leaders and civic partnership and influence to be included in community’s decisions. The purpose of this goal is to incorporate the community leaders in the activities of the network and to also be a thought partner to the civic decisions that are made.

Community Initiatives

Strategic Goal: Obtain business investment within the community to support area needs (access to healthy lifestyle opportunities, job opportunities, etc.) including a grocery store and business influx. The purpose of this goal is to grow the financial stability of the communities that are being served.

Committees

Socio-Emotional Wellness Committee</h5

“An active group of community partners working together to develop strategies, connect community members to resources, and engage members of the communities of Robbins and Blue Island to reduce the gap in socio-emotional wellness services.”

Healthy Eating Active Living Committee

An active group of organizations working together to bring healthy eating and active living resources to establish healthy communities in Blue Island and Robbins.

Meet the BIRNN Team

Kentric

Program Coordinator

Kentric D. Benson

Kentric has been with the Blue Island-Robbins Neighborhood Network (BIRNN) since 2015. He brings over 30 years of experience working in the community, many of those years in the Southland. As an employee of Metropolitan Family Services, he is a liaison between the BIRNN leadership, the United Way, and the community. He is tasked with ensuring the foundation of “Collective Impact” is the foundation of all our work.
Ashley-brown

Ashley Brown Hullon

Ashley has served as the Office Assistant for the Blue Island and Robbins Neighborhood Network since 2021. Prior to her work at the BIRNN she worked as the Assistant to the Director of the Board of Trustees at Chicago State University and she studied Biology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

FOUNDER & CEO

Brad Smart

Capitalize on low hanging fruit to identify a ballpark value added activity to beta test. Override the digital divide with additional clickthroughs from DevOps.

FOUNDER & CEO

Brad Smart

Capitalize on low hanging fruit to identify a ballpark value added activity to beta test. Override the digital divide with additional clickthroughs from DevOps.

FOUNDER & CEO

Brad Smart

Capitalize on low hanging fruit to identify a ballpark value added activity to beta test. Override the digital divide with additional clickthroughs from DevOps.

FOUNDER & CEO

Brad Smart

Capitalize on low hanging fruit to identify a ballpark value added activity to beta test. Override the digital divide with additional clickthroughs from DevOps.

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