Garfield Park Rite to Wellness Collaborative

The Sankofa Wellness Village
Looking Back to Move West Garfield Park Forward

“When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘We”, even illness becomes wellness.”
—El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz

Why a wellness village?

We’re just miles from downtown Chicago, but West Garfield Park residents have lifespans that are typically 13 years shorter than people who live in the Loop. We know that this life expectancy gap is driven by disinvestment, institutional racism and historical inequities that result in chronic stress and shortens—our lives.

The Garfield Park Rite to Wellness Collaborative (GPRWC) asked itself and members of the community to imagine, “What would we do if we were granted 13 more years of life?” After years of planning and community engagement, this vision now has a name: the Sankofa Wellness Village (SWV).


What is the Sankofa Wellness Village?

The Sankofa Wellness Village consists of interconnected capital and social investments along the Madison Pulaski commercial corridor that will create opportunities for West Garfield Park residents of all ages to have access to health, wellness and recreation services, along with finance, entrepreneur support, business development, and access to healthy food and the arts. This walkable “village” will connect the Madison-Pulaski corridor with other new public and private investments - such as Garfield Park Community Plaza and Outdoor Roller Rink, and the New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church Campus.


The Wellness Village will start with four anchor projects:

The Sankofa Wellness Center

The Sankofa Wellness Center is the literal center of the Sankofa Wellness Village, where individuals and families will access:

  • Culturally competent, affordable, comprehensive health care for all ages, including primary care, dentistry, and mental and behavioral health services centered around the concept of Black Culture Wellness.
  • A community health center, operated by Erie Family Health Centers, providing culturally competent, affordable, comprehensive health care for 6000 patients of all ages, including primary care, dentistry, and mental and behavioral health services centered around the concept of Black Culture Wellness.
  • Wellness and other programs in community spaces, fitness facilities and a gymnasium for all ages.
  • Financial education classes and programs, affordable, community-based banking, via the establishment of a new credit union, and access to jobs and career pathways via direct employment with the health institutions will be offered.

The MAAFA Center for Arts & Activism (the ‘MAC’)

The MAAFA Center for Arts & Activism (the ‘MAC’) is the heart and headquarters of the MAAFA Redemption Project, nurturing and amplifying the artistic expressions and talents of West Garfield Park residents. The MAC will offer:

  • An inspiring, intergenerational space to organize, curate, educate, and liberate while being a center for activism through study, discourse and action to create positive change.
  • A flexible artistic venue for exhibitions and performances that provides spaces for classes and workshops where residents can authentically document and represent their lives and aspirations.
  • Expanding support for the MAAFA Redemption Project participants through spiritual-life coaching, identity work, career readiness and workforce development training for program participants.

The K Social Innovation Hub

The K is a social innovation hub that supports the economic revitalization and financial well-being of Garfield Park. The K achieves this by supporting resident-owned businesses in their pursuit to develop, own, and occupy real estate along the Madison & Pulaski Commercial Corridors, and providing coworking, private, short-term and shared working space and event space to rent. The K will offer:

  • Memberships to individuals, micro-entrepreneurs, small businesses, and community anchor institutions
  • Connect community members with like-minded entrepreneurs
  • Facilitate networking and skill-sharing
  • Much needed human resource, legal, technology, and marketing support, in a community tailored, professional environment
  • High-speed internet access and a cafe featuring healthy food options that highlight local vendors.

The Community Grocery Initiative (CGI)

The Community Grocery Initiative (CGI) is a community-led effort to bring new grocers and healthy food and nutrition options to West Garfield Park as a central component of Black Culture Wellness. The CGI is led by the GPRWC and West Side United and is tasked to bring new grocery and food options to the residents of West Garfield Park through ongoing community planning, engagement and shared accountability. The CGI ensures that community voice, self-determination and needs around food options in West Garfield Park will drive the decision making process with the city and the grocery providers.


Serving the residents of West Garfield Park

The Village will serve the more than 17,000 residents of West Garfield Park and the surrounding communities. A quick look at the social determinants of health for residents of West Garfield Park demonstrate the need for the village.


The time is now–
building on momentum

The time to create the Wellness Village is now. In addition to addressing the health and wellness needs of the community, the Wellness Village will build on the recent interest and investment in the West Garfield Park community, and the creation of an anchor organization to lead community development - the GPRWC.

Planning efforts underway include

  • West Garfield Park Quality of Life Plan - expected completion April, 2023
  • Madison - Pulaski Corridor Plan - completed October 2022
  • Neighborhood Activation Initiative - on-going

Recent investment includes:

  • Legler Regional Library rehabilitation
  • Melody School playground
  • Garfield Park Community Plaza and Outdoor Roller Rink
  • New Mount PIlgrim Campus

Impact will be

Together the four projects have complementary approaches and independent activities that result in intertwined, overarching outcomes and the initiative’s collective impact in West Garfield Park. Some specific examples include:

Planning efforts underway include

  • Increased life expectancy
  • Stability of West Side ecosystem
  • Development a sustainable model of Sankofa Black Culture Wellness
  • Counteract the impact of institutional racism Graphic:

The team who can build the village is at the table


The vision for the Village comes from the residents of West Garfield Park. More than 20 organizations have a role in developing the Wellness Village.

Village leadership: Garfield Park Rite to Wellness Collaborative.

The Sankofa Wellness Center: RUSH University System for Health, Erie Family Health Centers, YMCA of Metro Chicago, West Side United, The Leaders Network Credit Union (Leaders Network), the Community Builders, GPRWC.

The MAAFA Center for Arts & Activism (the ‘MAC’): New Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church, MAAFA Redemption Project.

The K: TRUDelta Real Estate Company, Project Forward, Fathers Who Care.

The Community Grocer Initiative: GPRWC, West Side United, Yellow Banana

Get Involved!

It takes a village to build the Village.

For more info, please contact:

Brionna Poole
(989) 482-2786

Morgan McDonough
(224) 545-3514