The Campaign

The Problem

The Near West Side is one of the most under-resourced areas in Chicago. Chicago’s Near West Side accounts for 25% of all shootings in Chicago and 43% of households in North Lawndale and East Garfield Park live under the poverty line.

Funding cuts for after-school and sports programs result in a decrease in physical activity levels and an increase in the risk of recruitment to gang activity, crime and violence.

The consensus amongst local teachers, ministers, community advocates and neighborhood police is that the biggest risk to children is between 3pm and 6pm, making the case for increased after-school programming.

The Solution

Athletics and sports are a proactive solution to the problems youth face in the Near West Side of Chicago. The Chicago Lions will use sport to:

  • Creatively challenge the minds and the bodies of young people;
  • Provide social and emotional learning experiences;
  • Break down barriers to positive participation and engagement;
  • Empower youth with life skills and values; and
  • Provide alternatives to violence and crime.

This will be achieved through a social and emotional learning-based curriculum that teaches the core values of success, including determination and drive. Making this solution a reality requires (1) a safe place to learn and play and (2) quality, regular programs.

There are 25+ high schools and 50+ middle schools within 2 miles of the Lions for Hope Complex, making 20,000+ deserving students candidates for the Chicago Lions’ rugby programs.

The Progress


Lions for Hope Sports Complex Statement of Need: $8.3MM

Chicago Lions and Hope Academy raised $4 million and have completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Lions for Hope Sports Complex buildout.

Phase 1: Land Purchase: funded and completed.

Phase 2: Field Construction: funded and completed.

  • West artificial turf field including lights
  • Infrastructure including utility work, including complex stormwater management, parking lot

Phase 3: Construction of The Field: $2.7MM

  • Additional site amenities to be finished
  • Construct East artificial turf field
  • Install foundation for dome
  • Construct bleachers on east railway embankment

Phase 4: $1.1MM

  • Installation of seasonal dome for East field

Phase 5: $4.5MM

  • Construction of The Fieldhouse between East and West fields providing space for community and educational programming and events

Ways to Support

This is a great opportunity to give back to the Chicago community!

  1. Spread the word about the campaign through your social channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)
  2. Connect us with individuals, corporations, or foundations that may be interested in this project
  3. Donate to the campaign at

Let's Work Together

If you’re interested in helping the CLCA and want to learn more, please get in touch. If you do not wish to donate online, you can mail a donation to:

Chicago Lions Charitable Association
PO Box 532

Northbrook, IL 60065

The Lions for Hope Sports Complex is located at 2637 West Polk Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612.

Jeff Simon
President, Chicago Lions Rugby

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