Currently at GWTP

We are Recruiting!
Apply now for our next Shipping and Receiving or Woodworkers Training Class. For more information call (312) 563-9028

Shipping and Receiving Orientations are held Wednesdays @ 8:45 A.M.

Woodworking Orientations are held Tuesdays @ 8:45 A.M.

Call to make an appointment

Classes start soon!
Need Employment Assistance?
Call (312) 432-1300 for more information on our Employment Assistance and Job Readiness Training Program
Coming Soon
GWTP Board Meeting:
The next Greater West Town Community Development Project Board of Directors meeting will be held at 5:30 P.M. at 500 N Sacramento Blvd. Link to Calendar

Vocational Training:
Woodworking Cycle 74
Class scheduled to start
February 18, 2019

Shipping & Receiving Cycle 67
Class scheduled to start
May 13, 2019

Employment Unit:
To schedule an intake, please call (312) 432-1300
Recently at GWTP
Congratulations to all the grads!

Click below for a complete list of our partners and funders

April 8, 2019
GWTP Featured on ABC 7's Heart & Soul

Have you wanted to tour Greater West Town's model vocational training programs, but haven't had the time? Now you can! -- click the video above and view the 3-minute tour, produced by ABC for a Heart & Soul segment.
Greater West Town's programs have been recognized as effective models for closing the education and employment gap that many Chicago area residents experience. Every contract to use public money to address these needs in the community has been completed or exceeded since 1992 when the vocational programs got started.

The video above shows just a fraction of the learning, student achievement, technical resources, instructor expertise, and life transformation that happens at Greater West Town. Come out for a visit to see more! Bring a client or a group of clients to tour our site, so that they can catch the hope too!!!

Many individuals you know need help connecting with authentic and effective opportunities to move their careers forward. The time is now to refer interested individuals or to set up a visit for those in career exploration!


April 1, 2019
GWTP Mourns the Loss of Board Member and West Side           Community Leader, Mildred J. Wiley
On Tuesday, March 26, 2019 long-time Greater West Town Board member and a revered community leader, MILDRED J. WILEY passed away. Mildred had served on GWTP’s Board since 2013.  Her leadership role with GWTP was one of many commitments she made throughout her life to the people of Chicago, and the residents of the West Side in particular.

A CELEBRATION of her life will be held:

SATURDAY, APRIL 6th  at 11:30 A.M.

Beth Ann Center – Amberg Hall

1140 N. LAMON, CHICAGO, IL 60651


Mildred Wiley’s life of service was grounded in her love of community, her faith in God and her fellow humans, and the hope and determination to improve the life chances of our children and families. She was involved over the years in nearly every critical area impacting residents’ well-being and opportunity:  Public education, job training and employment opportunities, lifting up the formerly incarcerated, promoting community revitalization and economic development, violence prevention, and most especially creating safe spaces and places and greater educational opportunities for youth.  She was active on the very local level, such as serving on elementary and high school Local School Councils, on citywide and State-wide policy and spending debates, and nationally with networks of education reformers, and social and economic justice advocates across the country.  She was well known and respected by local, state, and federal elected and other government officials, and a force to be reckoned with on all of the issues about which she cared so deeply.


She was a champion of GWTP’s West Town Academy, the agency’s pioneering Alternative High School designed to retrieve, re-enroll, and graduate former CPS high school dropouts. She was equally passionate about supporting our Shipping & Receiving and Woodworking Vocational Skills Training Program.  She often attended graduation ceremonies at the Academy and Skills Training programs, to celebrate participants’ achievements with them, their families, and GWTP staff.


Her leadership at and support to Greater West Town barely captures the enormous contributions towards building and improving community that Mildred made in her all-too-short lifetime. She believed in being hopeful and positive, never gave up on trying to solve even the most challenging and stubborn problems facing the community, and took on each challenge with a quiet dignity, ferocious passion, and dogged determination that either wore down the powers that be, or eventually won them over.


She was a treasure to all of us and will be deeply missed. But Mildred would say, just get up each day and move forward, one step at a time. It’s up to us now, to do just that.


In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the American Cancer Society be made in Mildred’s honor. 

On behalf of the Board and Staff,



Keisha Davis-Johnson

Executive Director

Greater West Town Community Development Project






June 22, 2018
Up, Up, and Away!
2018 West Town Academy Graduation  

Greater West Town Community Development Project would like to congratulate all 64 of the 2018 graduating class of West Town Academy. The 2018 Commencement was held on June 22. 

Pictured (left to right): Salutatorian, Amori Shumate, GWTP Executive Director, Keisha Davis-Johnson, and Valedictorian, Destiny Davis

West Town Academy is currently taking applications for the 2018-2019 school year.
Join a proud community of more than 1,300 graduates, apply today!

July 11, 2017:

New Executive Director Hired!

Welcome Keisha Davis-Johnson...

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce the hiring of Ms Keisha Davis-Johnson as our new Executive Director, beginning July 17.

Ms Davis-Johnson brings over 20 years of highly successful community service experience focusing on education and program development to the agency. Ms Davis-Johnson previously worked at GWTP, serving six years as Principal of the West Town Academy.

“Keisha’s knowledge of the agency’s history and mission, her highly effective previous leadership here, and her deep commitment to community service make her an ideal candidate to carry on the vitally important work of Greater West Town,” said Bill Leavy, founder and current Executive Director who is stepping aside after nearly 30 years in the role.

“Now more than ever, the struggle for economic opportunity and social justice in our communities must gather new strength, new energy, and new commitment. With this hope in mind, we are happy and excited to turn over the reins of leadership to Keisha Davis-Johnson,” said Mildred Wiley, Board Member and longtime community activist.


March 20, 2017:

A Message from the Executive Director....

Dear Friend of Greater West Town Project,

I want to let you know that we have launched our long-planned Executive Director leadership transition.

After nearly 30 years as Executive Director, I will be retiring from this role later this year.

Please be assured that with the support of our Board and Senior Staff, the transition to new leadership will be smooth, and that GWTP's programs will continue to serve our communities with the same high standards.

Thank you for supporting us over the years. It has been a great joy and honor to work with you and so many friends, partners, and community leaders in the founding and operation of Greater West Town Project.

If you would like to refer a candidate for the position see
GWTP Careers or contact the Larcgroup at lorena@thelarcgroup.com

Meanwhile... the work goes on,

.. we recently had the opportunity to present Greater West Town's strategies and history of combating poverty through community based job training at a U. S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources hearing.

All in all, I think we represented pretty well..... It gets especially interesting during Q & A.

Best wishes to you and all our colleagues working to bring economic opportunity and social justice to our communities.

Yours truly,


February 15, 2017:

Greater West Town Appears before U.S. House Ways and Means
Subcommittee on Human Resources:
Testimony Advocates for Combating Urban Poverty Through Job Training
The Geography of Poverty

On February 15, 2017, GWTP Executive Director, William Leavy, and Linda Thomas, Director of Client Services, testified before the U.S. House Ways and Means' Subcommittee on Human Resources to deepen public understanding of the extent and impact of poverty in urban communities and to share the agency's experience using community-based job training to combat poverty at the individual and community level.

For full version click HERE     For highlights click HERE


January 15, 2017:

   West Town Academy still has limited seats for the 2nd semester of the 2016-2017 school year!

Join a proud community of more than 1,200 graduates apply today!


The Greater West Town Community Development Project has been
attracting job-seekers for more than 25 years

Reprinted/Posted with permission from original article:

Students enrolled in GWTCDP’s Woodworking Program watch their Instructor [Doug Rappe]
perform a task. | Wendell Hutson/Contributor.

By Wendell Hutson
Contributing Reporter
(Archived from Thursday, September 10th, 2015 1:58 PM)

Throughout its 26-year history, the nonprofit Greater West Town Community Development Project (GWTCDP) has provided free programs to anyone needing help getting ahead in life, according to the organization's officials. But don't just take their word for it.

"Listen to our participants and you be the judge," said the organization's founder and executive director Bill Leavy.

Adonis Cbounes, 20, lives in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on the South Side, but traveled Wednesday to GWTP, 500 N Sacramento Blvd, to apply for its 12-week Shipping and Receiving program.

"The reason why I decided to apply is because I have two friends who went through the program and now they have stable jobs. I have been to Jobs Corps, but it did not help me get a job," said Cbounes. "The jobs I had before were not consistent. At this point I want stable employment after I finish school."

Cbounes attends Kennedy-King College in the Englewood neighborhood and ultimately hopes to become a professional singer or music manager.

"If I don't make it as a rapper I want to at least be in the music industry doing something," added Cbounes, whose stage name is "Rocky."

Dionne Hubbard's area of focus is management.

"I work as a bus boy at a restaurant for the time being but that's not where I plan on staying forever," said the 28-year-old Austin resident. "I would be disappointed if I am not accepted into the program here, because I have heard good things about it and I know it could help me get to where I want to go."

In August, Nancy Coleman and Edward Chatman both graduated from the program and now volunteer as program recruiters for the organization.

After going unemployed for two years, Coleman, a 51-year-old West Garfield Park resident, said she decided to enroll in the program to get some added job skills.

"Thanks to the [shipping and receiving] program, I am a certified forklift driver and I received the same training UPS and FedEx employees got when they were hired," said Coleman.

Chatman said he moved to Chicago from Wisconsin to assist his mother, who was ill and is also a graduate of the Woodwork program at GWTP.

"My mom (Vicky Chatman) graduated from the program in 2004 and she suggested I apply for the program, after seeing me struggle to find a job," recalled Chatman, a 28-year-old North Lawndale resident. "I owe a lot to this program, because it provided me with valuable job skills that I know will carry me far in life."

But besides the woodwork and shipping and receiving programs, GWTP also runs West Town Academy, an alternative high school for young adults between 17 and 21 years old. I n the last two years 190 students graduated and received their high school diplomas, according to Kent Nolen, the school's director.

One student, Desmond Ewing, 19, said he dropped out of high school when he was 17 and did so because he was on the verge of getting kicked out for poor attendance. The North Lawndale resident said he will be graduating from West Town in 2016 and plans to go to barber college.

"I didn't feel I was learning anything anyway at my old high school. I was going to school every day to hang with my friends," said Ewing. "A year later I realized I made a mistake. That's when I decided to get back into school."
Another student, Justin Harris, said he dropped out of Team Englewood High School on the South Side after missing too many days from school. The 19-year-old, who lives in the West Englewood neighborhood, said he missed a lot of days because he had to stay home and help his mother take care of his little brother.

"My mother had a baby and needed help getting around the house and no one was available but me," explained Harris. "My dad had to go to work and my other siblings had to go to school. I sacrificed my education to help my mother and I would do it again if she needed me."

Unlike other alternative high schools, where armed security guards walk the hallways, West Town does not use security guards or metal detectors.

"That's not our philosophy here. We don't want to react to conflict we try to resolve any conflicts before it escalates into something worse," said Nolen, a former Chicago Public Schools principal.

One thing that concerns Nolen, Leavy and other administrators at GWTP is the pending state budget, which has not yet been finalized by the governor and General Assembly. Collectively, Linda Thomas, director of client services; Juliann Salinas, assistant director; and Robert Fittin, training program director, said elected officials are out of touch with reality and their internal differences with each other is hurting families who are already in crisis.

"I think [Gov. Bruce] Rauner does not have a clue how his cuts are affecting having social service agencies and low-income households," said Salinas.

Fittin suggested that without a state budget in place soon, the organization could be forced to make some hard choices.

"I don't know exactly what those decisions would be, but I'm sure it would include laying off staff or reducing services we offer," Fittin said. "Either way you look at it, there's no upside to it."

Thomas, who has worked at the organization for over 20 years, said she is praying for a miracle.

"Only God can fix this mess caused by a group of people who have no idea what it is like to go hungry," she said.

Still, Leavy said he is optimistic that the organization could survive any further cuts from Springfield.

"You heard all the stories from our participants. And there are many more success stories West Town has created; but without funding, it will be hard to continue our mission to build a community-based response to expanding [free] educational and economic opportunities for disadvantaged residents," he said.

Email: wreporter@yahoo.com

From the Archives:



West Town Academy: 312-563-9044 | Woodworkers Training: 312-563-9570 
Shipping and Receiving Training: 312-563-9028 | Adult Job Placement Unit: 312-432-1300

Main Office Address: 500 N. Sacramento Blvd | Chicago, Illinois 60612 | Phone: (312) 432.9595 | Fax: (312) 432.1051

© Greater West Town Community Development Project. All rights reserved.

Greater West Town Community Development Project is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education
Accredited School, ACCSC