While now serving as a nationwide model for gang intervention and citywide model for after-school programs, New Life Centers of Chicagoland, NFP was originally created in 2005 to address the needs of the neighbors surrounding locations of New Life Community Church. As neighbors approached the church with pressing issues–youth violence, gang violence, teen pregnancy, justice system involvement, unemployment–New Life responded with custom-made Centers programs that fit the community. Initial sites grew in the Little Village and Midway neighborhoods (2005). Subsequent programs sprang up at Humboldt Park (2008), Cicero, Jefferson Park, and Oak Forest. To this day, New Life Centers continues in its culture of creating programs that address expressed neighborhood need and empower neighborhood involvement, rather than the normal social service pattern of initiating programs based on funding availability.
New Life Centers was founded by the New Life Community Church, a multi-site church operating at 20 sites throughout Chicagoland and internationally. Founded in 1986 as an 18-member church in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood, New Life (Nueva Vida) still exists under its founding pastor, Pastor Mark Jobe, and now hosts over 34 services weekly. Together these sites pursue an aggressive growth movement known as the 20-20 vision. Within this vision are planned 40 new church locations in Chicagoland and 10 new locations internationally. As an auxiliary partner organization, New Life Centers seeks to equip leaders within each of these New Life communities to serve their neighbors through health, education, and employment services for all ages.
Humboldt Park joined the New Life family with a history all its own. The Humboldt Park site, 1410 N. Springfield Ave., was founded in 1898 as Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church and School. Serving the community for over 100 years, Bethel made neighborhood gym outreach and children’s programs a priority. “Bethel Family Programs” expanded exponentially, joining the New Life family when Bethel’s generous members gifted their facility to New Life Community Church in 2008.