Community development

Community development

What does it take to breathe new life into once vibrant communities?
A skilled workforce, yes, but also big-picture thinking, new partnerships, and new ideas. We’re developing all three.

To learn more about OAI’s community development initiatives, call
Don Brozek at (708) 283-5020, ext. 212. or email him at dbrozek@oaiinc.org

Our focus is metropolitan Chicago’s South Side, where we collaborate with a variety of manufacturers, agencies, and local government partners to increase skills and opportunities in a region whose economy offers few options.

SouthWorks MakerLab

Using technologies such as 3D printing and scanning, laser cutting, desktop CNC mills, and Arduino programming, OAI is creating opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in the making of things.

People come together at the MakerLab to learn something new, prototype product ideas, work on a passion project, or start a business around a product they’ve designed. MakerLab also offers low-cost, hands-on courses in the use of new technologies and lean start-up product development training for entrepreneurs.

Who participates
Open to the public

Course work and credentials
MakerLab courses include STEM, product prototyping, and business start-up offerings to encourage community members to explore the intersection of making and manufacturing. Courses are regularly offered in all technologies, with new offerings focusing on Etsy site optimization, design thinking, and virtual reality.

Post-training services
Mentoring and consulting services available

Where
OAI Chicago Southland, 214 Forest Blvd., Park Forest, IL 60466

How to enroll
For more information or to enroll, contact Don Brozek at (708) 283-5020, ext. 212, or dbrozek@oaiinc.org.

Funding partners
US Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund
Village of Park Forest

Young Manufacturers Association

Work provides more than a paycheck. It provides a social identity and a structure on which to build a life of meaning. OAI, together with Manufacturing Renaissance and Austin Coming Together (ACT), is building a pathway to connect young adults living in high-risk, high-violence communities on Chicago’s West Side and in south suburban Cook County to professional and personal success. Our goal is to increase participants’ awareness of economic opportunity, increase their leadership role in their community, improve their access to training and employment, and reduce involvement in violence.


Who participates

Youth and young adults ages 18–29

Post-training services
Job placement assistance, post-training follow-up tracking, career coaching, support services, and mentoring.

Where
South Suburban Cook County and the West Side of Chicago

How to enroll
For more information or to enroll, contact Don Brozek at (708) 283-5020, ext. 212, or dbrozek@oaiinc.org.

Funding partners
Cook County Justice Advisory Council

Regional STEM Learning Exchange in Manufacturing

OAI and the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation lead this initiative to connect Chicago Southland high schools with area manufacturing companies to promote career pathways. Core activities include coordinating an annual Manufacturing Day assembly and company tours. The initiative also includes working through career and technical education coordinators and a partner, Manufacturing Connect, to encourage school-based certificate training in machining and dual credit programs with regional community colleges.


Who participates

High school students in STEM programs and local manufacturing companies

Where
Calumet region of metropolitan Chicago

How to enroll
For more information or to enroll, contact Don Brozek at (708) 283-5020, ext. 212, or dbrozek@oaiinc.org.

Funding partners
Illinois Manufacturers Association Education Foundation

Robotics Challenge

The SouthWorks Robotics and Engineering Olympics, coordinated in partnership with Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation, introduces area high school students to the field of manufacturing and links each student team to mentors and sponsors at a local manufacturing firm. Each spring, teams in metropolitan Chicago’s Calumet region compete.


Who participates

High school students in STEM programs and local manufacturing companies

Where
Calumet region of metropolitan Chicago

How to enroll
For more information or to enroll, contact Don Brozek at (708) 283-5020, ext. 212, or dbrozek@oaiinc.org.

Funding partners
Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation and local employers
Illinois Manufacturers Association Education Foundation