Tag: Bridgette Chatman Lewis

Maywood Now Has a ‘Tech District’ That Offers Weekend Courses in 3-D Printing


A series of Ultimaker 3-D printers inside of a classroom at the University of Illinois College of Business MakerLab. | University of Illinois || Below, Bridgette Chatman-Lewis, Vena Nelson, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Maywood Trustee Isiah Brandon, Tumia Rumero and U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis inside of Nelson’s Global Business Center in Maywood earlier this month.

tech-picWednesday, October 26, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 5:35 p.m.

“A 3-D printer can make a prototype of a Porsche in a matter of days or hours,” said business consultant Bridgette Chatman-Lewis earlier this month while hosting roughly 40 people inside of the Global Business Center, 840 S. 17th Ave., in Maywood.

The Center, which offers temporary office space and wraparound services to burgeoning businesses, is considered the hub of a technology district that Chatman-Lewis envisions for Maywood.

The Center has, for the last few weeks, also been a site for training young people in the magic of 3-D printing, a manufacturing process that creates three-dimensional objects like cars or even houses from digital files (click here for more info on the technology).

Chatman-Lewis, a native of Maywood, heads up the Oak Brook-based Chatman Lewis Consulting, which specializes in bringing economic development to hard-pressed communities.

After years of trying to gain a foothold into Maywood and at the urging Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Chatman-Lewis said her firm is now establishing a presence in the community where she was raised.

Earlier this year, Chatman-Lewis announced that Maywood would be among the communities her firm is seeking to “adopt,” in order to lure economic opportunities to town — a process the strategist said she’ll execute under an arm of her firm called the Economic Growth Initiative.

Chatman-Lewis has said EGI will execute its five-point plan in three phases. Those points include creating jobs, decreasing crime, increasing per capita income, providing youth and senior programming, and improving the community’s aesthetic landscape.

The Global Business Center, which is owned and operated by Maywood entrepreneurs Andre and Vena Nelson, was the site of the Oct. 14 kickoff for the technology aspect of EGI’s mandate to bring more youth programming into the village.

Saturday, Oct. 15 marked the start of the first session of instructional courses in 3-D printing at the Center. The eight-week training program, which takes place on the weekends, will offer young people, ages 16 to 24, the opportunity to earn a certification in 3-D printing technology, which they can then leverage into employment opportunities.

“The starting pay for 3-D printing jobs is between $45,000 and $75,000,” Chatman-Lewis said. “There’s a big demand for it in everything from soup to nuts. It’s huge.”

The course is offered through collaboration among EGI, Microsoft, the University of Illinois MakerLab and the Global Business Center — the latter of which has offered up some of its employees to serve as trained 3-D instructors. Maywood native and technology guru Sy Bounds, a frequent collaborator with the Nelsons, will facilitate the program.

The 15-person maximum enrollment level for the program’s first training cohort has already been reached, Chatman-Lewis said; however, interested young people can still apply for open spots in other 15-student cohorts. The maximum total number of students the program will accept is 100, she noted.

Although the training is free, participants will need to each fund-raise at least $100 to offset the cost it takes to administer the program.

“It’s a circle of accountability we’re going to build,” Chatman-Lewis said.

The first session will take place from October to December, with the next session taking place between February and April 2017. Although the program targets young people, 16 to 24, older applicants won’t necessarily be turned away, Chatman-Lewis said. Their names will be put in a lottery for open slots.

But the technological buzz at the Center won’t be limited to just those training courses, EGI officials said. Chatman-Lewis deemed the Center Maywood’s technology district. Bounds, she said, will serve as its czar.

The concept is to give area young people the expertise to take advantage of 21st Century economic opportunities while also maintaining a sense of place that will commit them to serving their communities even after they’ve seized those opportunities and secured those high-paying jobs.

“My research has shown that we have an incredible amount of brilliant young people,” Bounds said during the Oct. 14 kick-off event. “The problem is that we have to make sure they don’t take that information and head to Corporate America.”

In addition to 3-D printing and technology training, Chatman-Lewis said EGI will also host training courses in areas such as entrepreneurship, web development and product licensing, among others.

She said EGI is also looking for volunteers to man other community events, such as the Walk/Run it held in June and for which planning has already started for next year, a social/emotional learning program, an annual Global Initiative Network Event (GINE) and a Bulls/Sox lock-in for 3-D printing participants who successfully raise $100.

Tumia Rumero, an aide to Congressman Danny K. Davis (7th), who was in attendance at the Oct. 14 event, connected the training young people in Maywood are receiving to the wave of technology companies that are planting roots in the Chicago area.

“We have Google in our congressional district, Amazon has a headquarters here, Pandora just opened up a headquarters, Microsoft is at the Aon Center, Motorola just re-headquartered here,” Rumero said.

“With all those resources,” she said, “how do we begin to match what they’re doing with the people in the communities and so that’s where our technology advisory committee is going?”

Rumero touted a series of technology events the Congressman has been hosting over the last year, including a forum at Google’s Chicago headquarters, as an example of connecting area young people to opportunities in the technology field.

A group of students and administrators from Proviso Township District 209 High Schools attended the Google event, along with Chatman-Lewis and Bounds, who is on Davis’s technology advisory committee.

One challenge some attendees at the Oct. 14 event pointed out was how young people would be persuaded to take advantage of the tech training.

“How do you get them interested?” one attendee asked. “If you know that there are youth out here who have the brainpower and you know they can do it, how do you get them away from sports?”

Shanee Edwards, a 3-D printing course instructor and the marketing and sales specialist for Vena Nelson’s Go Big Accounting — the Business Center’s principal tenant and an associated company — said the trick to grabbing a young person’s attention is to make the learning fun.

“I would probably be inclusive. If it was my son, I’d explore the possibility that you can even design a new form of cleats,” Edwards said.

“Involve the interests they already have versus just trying to take them completely away from something they already love,” she added. “But if you find a way to incorporate [technology training inclusively], they’ll be able to make connections on their own.” VFP

For more info on the courses, email info@chatmanlewisconsulting.com

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Short Maywood Race Marks Start of Long Bet on Village’s Future

Maywood 5K couple running past finish line

Participants in Saturday’s EGI 5K Run/Walk, held at Miller Meadows Forest Preserve in Maywood, cross the finish line. Below, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins and Bridgette Chatman-Lewis, two of the event’s motivating forces, embrace. | Photos courtesy Larice Davis.

Maywood 5K Mayor Perkins and Bridgette Chatman LewisSaturday, June 11, 2016 || By Michael Romain

People young and old, fit and unfit converged on Miller Meadows Forest Preserve in Maywood this Saturday for a 5K Run/Walk hosted by the Economic Growth Initiative and co-sponsored by several local businesses, organizations and elected officials.

The event was, in part, a celebration of the community that Maywood currently is and the one EGI’s founder, business consultant Bridgette Chatman-Lewis, envisions in the future.

The 5K is part of a more comprehensive effort by Chatman-Lewis’s consulting group to ‘adopt’ Maywood, a process that entails enticing numerous developments, such as grocery stores and manufacturers, to the village.

“The end goal is to create a bustling local economy, create jobs, decrease crime, improve the aesthetic landscape and increase per capita incomes,” said Chatman-Lewis, a Maywood native, during an interview with this publication in February. “That can be done through supermarkets, restaurants, other businesses and manufacturing.”

Chatman-Lewis said her firm has created a “sustainable platform for year-round youth programs” and a series of initiatives designed to stimulate job creation, decrease crime and enhance the local landscape.

At Saturday’s race, Stephen Jackson, one of EGI’s programming coordinators, manned a booth designed to inform participants about his array of services. Jackson, a youth mentor whose work has become widely respected throughout the city and suburbs, said his range of programs will be based on what he calls five pillars.

“It’s all about building community through these five pillars, which are entrepreneurship, innovation, health and fitness, social and emotional learning, and careers. We have different people running these programs and volunteering. We’ll have paid youth workers as well. So, it’s an all-around win-win for the community. We’ll also have the older generations as well as the younger generations involved.”

Asia Ousley, a Maywood native and a corporate accountant by profession, will also coordinate programs for EGI. She said she wants to use the platform to launch a nonprofit of her own one day.

“This is my way of giving back and bringing something back to where I was raised,” said Ousley, a graduate of Emerson Elementary School and Proviso East High School.

In keeping with Jackson’s intergenerational observation, the walk/run was a mélange of experiences and ages and physiques — including the svelte, lean strides of Proviso East track stars and band members, some of whom performed as participants were crossing the finish line.

The top runners received medals and $100 Macy’s gift certificates. Jon Sylvester and Dominique Wallace posted the fastest times of all youth participants at 19:58.4 and 27:44.5, respectively. Ryan Gilmore and Megan Mcclintock posted the fastest times for adult participants, at 19:11.7 and 37:31.2, respectively.

An hour after finishing, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, one of the Saturday event’s most vocal proponents and a co-sponsor, seemed excited enough to pace the course one more time. Perkins, along with Maywood resident Lucille Redmond, received special recognition for their parts planning the race.

Perkins was an early supporter of EGI after Chatman-Lewis first approached her with the proposal to adopt Maywood more than a year ago. The mayor said the event is the first of its kind in the village — at least as far she’s aware.

“Bridgette is a Maywoodian, born and raised,” Perkins said. “For a person to come back to her town and give back; there’s nothing I can do but support her. The Lord is going to bless everyone who showed up this morning.” VFP

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Maywood Preps for Two 5K Run/Walks & A ‘Billion Steps’ | Earth Day Cleanup Channels Spirit of Lennel Grace

Maywood Earth Day Cleanup.jpg

Some of the participants in last Saturday’s Illinois Prairie Path Earth Day Cleanup gather inside a village-owned building on 11th Avenue and the Prairie Path. The event channeled the spirit of its late organizer, Lennel Grace, who passed eight weeks before it was to have taken place. | Photos courtesy Alise Buchmeier 

Earth day cleanup photoWednesday, May 4, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

Pastor John Yi, the former president of the Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization and an active presence in Maywood’s parks, said when he embarked on this year’s Illinois Prairie Path Earth Day Cleanup last Saturday, he was taken by surprise.

“There was a lot less garbage this year than there normally is,” Yi said. “It was at least half what it usually is.”

Many of the roughly 40 participants in this year’s walk agreed with Grace’s sister, Diane Brown, who noted that the trail appeared as if her brother, the event’s longtime organizer Lennel Grace, took to the path before everyone arrived and cleaned up.

Grace, the beloved community activist and Maywood native who passed suddenly in March at the age of 67, was a frequent user of the path.

His early morning routine involved leaving the nearby apartment building where he lived and walking the trail alone or with friends, often bending over to pick up trash. Sometimes, he’d phone or text the village manager or a department head about the path’s condition.

When Grace passed, eight weeks before the cleanup was to have taken place, his friend JoAnn Murphy stepped in and took over the organizing.

“I really didn’t want the ball to be dropped,” said Murphy, the village’s deputy clerk and an active, longtime member of NOMCO, which Grace helmed at the time of his death.

“I knew it was important to him and plus I love I the environment,” Murphy said, adding that all it took was a call to the Illinois Prairie Path Association notifying the organization of Grace’s passing. Grace was a member of the organization’s board.

“We were glad to be out here doing the work, but your heart was saddened, because Lennel wasn’t here,” said Grace’s cousin, Twyanna Rand. “So you miss that aspect, but you know his heart was here. We just want to keep the positive momentum going.”

While this year’s event was somewhat embittered by Grace’s voluminous absence — and by a constant, gray overcast and rain that dampened clothes — it was also sweetened by the presence of residents who were partaking in the cleanup for the first time.

“I feel like I have to be here, because I wasn’t here before,” said Alise Buchmeier, a close friend who noted that Grace helped maintain her garden. “He’s there with me in my garden, too.”

Buchmeier and resident Rolando Villegas, who moved to Maywood, in part, because of Grace’s insistence, called themselves “spoiled,” by their friend, Maywood’s omnipresent senior citizen — who many said had the energy of someone half his age.

“He’s the reason my garden isn’t being done right now,” Villegas admitted, before laughing. “What he did by himself, we’re doing right now. We kind of took him for granted in a way. If something needed to be done, we’d always say, ‘Oh, Lennel will do it.’ But it’s nice to continue what was so important to him. It’s important to me, because it was so important to him. The way he cared about things was infectious that way.”

“I came two years ago toward the end,” said Grace’s close friend Tony Favela, who recalled the activist’s stubborn insistence. “He kept asking, ‘Are you coming? Are you coming?”

“Last year, I overslept. But this year, I had to come because of Lennel,” Favela said. “I had to. This is our responsibility now.”

Two 5K walk/runs to premier in Maywood this summer

5K Walk and Run.png

Two separate 5K races are scheduled to be held in Maywood this summer: one in June and another in September.

Maywood native Bridgette Chatman-Lewis, who owns a business consulting firm in Oak Brook, is spearheading the organization of a 5K Run/Walk for youth programs and economic growth, to be held on June 11.

The event is part of a more comprehensive effort by Chatman’s consulting group to adopt Maywood, a process that entails enticing numerous developments, such as grocery stores and manufacturers, to the village.

“The end goal is to create a bustling local economy, create jobs, decrease crime, improve the aesthetic landscape and increase per capita incomes,” said Lewis during an interview with this publication in February. “That can be done through supermarkets, restaurants, other businesses and manufacturing.”

Lewis said her firm has created a “sustainable platform for year-round youth programs” and a series of initiatives designed stimulate job creation, decrease crime and enhance the local landscape.

To register for the event, click here; to donate, click here; to become a sponsor of this event click here; or call (630) 613-7210. To volunteer, click here.

The walk/run will take place on June 11, 8 a.m., at Miller Meadow Forest Preserve Trail, 2199 S. 1st Ave., Maywood. Registration costs: $35.00 adults/ $25.00 children and seniors.

You can also register in person at the following locations: 

LA Fitness, 200 Broadview Village Square, May 12, May 16 and May 31

The Maywood Public Library, 121 S. 5th Ave., every Saturday in May and June 4 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St., every Saturday in May from 1 to 3 p.m. and on June 4, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The Second Baptist Church in Maywood, 436 S. 13th Ave.,  every Sunday after the church’s 11 a.m. service.

PLCCA, 411 W. Madison Ave., Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., throughout May

You can pickup your race packets at: Fleet Feet Sports, 102 Marion Street, Oak Park, from June 4 through June 10

‘Maywood in Motion 5K Walk/Run’

MPD newsletter.pngOn September 24, the Maywood Park District, in partnership with Proviso Partners 4 Health, plan on hosting the first-ever Maywood in Motion 5K Walk/Run, which is designed to foster healthier lifestyles among residents.

For more information, visit the park district’s website here or its Facebook page here. You can also call (708) 344-4740.

You can also access the park district’s brand new newsletter by clicking here, or on the adjacent image.

Take the ‘1 Billion Step Challenge’ today 


The American Public Health Association is looking to see if communities throughout the country can take ‘1 Billion Steps’ by May 31. Proviso Partners 4 Health, an APHA team, is urging community members to register for a fitness tracker, designed to monitor their movement, and to tell their friends, family and co-workers about the app as well.

To learn more about the simple three step registration process and setup your own fitness tracker, click here.

Upcoming Maywood Public Library Events 

Maywood Library II

ELA/ESL Classes will take place at the Quinn Community Center

The Maywood Public Library District will continue to sign people up for an English Language Acquisition course, but this class will now take place at the Quinn Community Center. For more information, click here or call the Quinn Center at 708-343-6120.

How to Get a Summer Job

Getting a summer job is always challenging. Find out the best ways to look for work through this interactive session for the entire family.  Learn about new online resources, discover new opportunities, and have access to summer jobs (and more) that are available now. This free presentation will take place at the Maywood Public Library District on Saturday, May 7th, in room 201 at 11:30 am, and will be presented by a representative from Triton College. Students and parents are invited to come.

Vet Center

The Vet Center will be in the rotunda of the Maywood Public Library District onTuesday, May 10, from 3:30-5:00 pm.  The Vet Center offers outreach, counseling, and referral services to veterans who are eligible for their services, so that they may adjust to living in a post-war environment. For information on the Vet Center, please call 708-457-8805, or click here.

SAT and ACT Changes: Q&A

The Huntington Learning Center will visit the Maywood Public Library District on Wednesday, May 11th, from 4:00-6:00 pm in room 201. They will be explaining some of the changes that have been made to the SAT and the ACT exams, and answering questions concerning them. The first hour will focus on questions that students may have, and the second hour will focus on questions that parents and adults may have. This presentation is free to the public.

Buck-a-Bag Book Sale

The Buck-A-Bag Book Sale will continue through May at the Maywood Public LibraryDistrict. Each bag filled with hardcover or softcover books will only cost you $1.00. Bags for this sale will be supplied by the Library. For more information, please call 708-343-1847 x 10. VFP

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MFA Summer program.jpg