November 4, 2016
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This Chicago nonprofit is ‘flying the W’ in its South Shore community

Here are three stories about innovation around the U.S. that will inspire you

Chicago’s Lost Boyz Inc. is teaching kids how to win on the field and in their communities. Photo by James Murray

Fly the W, community edition: The city of Chicago is one of the great baseball towns of all time, and Chicagoans are celebrating that legacy after the Cubs were able to “fly the W,” a flag symbolizing a “win,” to clinch a World Series title Wednesday night. For the boys and girls of Chicago’s LostBoyz Inc., baseball is more than just sport and a pastime, it also gives them a sense of community. Little League coach LaVonte Stewart founded the organization in 2008, a few years after his neighborhood little league folded, leaving many kids without access to the sport they loved. Since then LostBoyz, which is also open to girls, has developed into a mentorship program that gets kids involved with their communities, including developing relationships with community leaders like law enforcement. It’s a method Stewart hopes will help these young athletes grow into the leaders of tomorrow. “Everything that LostBoyz does involves mentorship,” Stewart told The DePaulia, the student newspaper of DePaul University. “Whether you’re a coach, whether you’re an academic tutor (or) whether you’re any other program person, whoever comes in contact with the kids becomes a mentor. We don’t use that term loosely.”

Get out the vote: A few weeks ago, we started a list of cities across the country that are offering free rides on their public transit system on Election Day. Businesses are also encouraging civic responsibility and voter participation, with hundreds of companies giving their employees the day off on Nov. 8 so they can vote. While some larger companies like General Motors and Ford Motor Co. have long given workers the day off to vote, more than 300 tech companies are also joining the movement. Silicon Valley investor Hunter Walk even started a Google doc which lists tech companies that are giving employees time off to vote. Companies like Tinder, Spotify, and TaskRabbit have signed the list. Outdoor retailer Patagonia announced last week that it would close all U.S. stores, its distribution center in Nevada, and its corporate headquarters in California on Nov. 8 so employees could vote.

Philly’s High Line: When the first phase of New York City’s High Line opened in 2009, architecture critics and visitors alike hailed the project for revitalizing an abandoned railway. On Monday, Philadelphia came one step closer to claiming its own green space from an abandoned railway bridge when Mayor Jim Kenney, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, and others broke ground on phase one of the Reading Viaduct Rail Park. When it’s complete, the three-mile park will span 10 neighborhoods and 50 city blocks, according to the Friends of The Rail Park, a nonprofit working in collaboration with the Center City District, a private-sector business improvement district. The $10.3 million project just north of downtown will connect cultural institutions like The Philadelphia Museum of Art and neighborhoods like Chinatown. The first phase of the project is expected to open in early 2018.

Margaret Myers

The Renewal Project editor