Deals that Matter
Home for the arts
Open the Circle (OTC) was created to ensure that grassroots creative projects in underserved communities receive financial resources to sustain their works, with an initial focus on African American dance and youth engagement on the South Side of Chicago. OTC started as a collaboration among three colleagues from Chicago: business consultant/musician Drew Alt; dancer/dance activist Jamal “Litebulb” Oliver; and scholar/documentarian Wills Glasspiegel. OTC reflects the goals and backgrounds of its three founders and their efforts to challenge inequality through the arts and community organizing. OTC's initial focus is on “footwork,” which began as a dance style performed to house music in the mid-80s and later became its own style of music. Its focus is grounded in the radical potential of black social dance and electronic music to build new communities across generations, genders and geography. This focus provides OTC with an opportunity to support leaders and leadership models developed by Chicagoans living in immediate proximity to some of the greatest problems facing American society. Partner Gail Morse is seeking tax exemption for OTC. “The work we’ve been able to accomplish with Gail and Jenner & Block has been incredibly special,” said Oliver. “We're using ‘footwork,’ a local Chicago dance, to drive and organize our nonprofit. OTC uses dance and dance history to tackle issues regarding race and equality, while providing an outlet for youth in underserved communities. It’s a great feeling when we put our minds together with Gail, Sarah Weiss and the Jenner & Block team. Their support is priceless and extremely powerful for the work we're doing on the South Side.”
Firm Helps Launch Not-For-Profit Organization Blessons
Jenner & Block provided legal counsel and support to found and launch Blessons, a not-for-profit organization that provides mentorship and educational workshops for women in need. With the goal of empowering women through education, Blessons offers scholarships to disadvantaged, low-income women who are 25 years or older and have had their higher education interrupted due to significant life challenges such as cancer, mental illness, physical or emotional abuse, or who are first-generation immigrants. The Jenner & Block team included Partner Olga Loy and Associate Rafi Mottahedeh.
Making a House a Home
Our real estate lawyers provide ongoing lease support to our pro bono clients, such as Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago; Housing Forward; the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities, Inc.; the Family Institute of Northwestern; the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing; and others. Here are a few examples of our real estate work in 2017:
- Solidifying the city of Chicago’s status as a cultural hub, the Lyric Opera negotiated a long-term agreement with the Joffrey Ballet for the Joffrey to become the resident dance company at the famed opera house on Wacker Drive. A team led by Partner Michelle McAtee represented the Lyric in the effort. “With the Joffrey’s arrival at the start of the 2020/21 season, the Lyric Opera House will take its rightful place among the great opera houses of the world, which frequently are home to magnificent ballets, as well as thrilling opera productions,” Lyric General Director Anthony Freud said in a press release.
- A large Chicago artistic and cultural institution is searching for a location for new building construction. Partner Donald Resnick and Associate Andrew Carlins are leading the effort in handling all real estate-related legal matters, while also assisting in corporate strategic discussions and interactions with other participating entities in the Chicago community. The Jenner & Block team also includes Partner Penelope Campbell. The project is still underway.
- Winnetka Community House, a non-profit in Chicago’s North Shore community, provides educational, cultural, social and recreational opportunities to people of all ages. Partner Michelle McAtee helps the agency with leasing and construction needs.
fostering economic growth
Chicago Regional Growth Corporation (CRGC) comprises prominent business leaders and chief economic development professionals from Cook, DuPage, Will, McHenry, Lake, Kendall and Kane counties, as well as the city of Chicago. The leaders are united by a common purpose: to foster collaboration and cultivate a regional approach to economic development in order to generate inclusive growth and prosperity across northeastern Illinois. CRGC develops and implements strategies to cultivate and expand economic growth in the metropolitan Chicago area. The organization gathers and coordinates resources via marketing on a national and international level to promote the area’s collective assets, such as its infrastructure and workforce, to brand the region as a business-friendly environment in order to influence businesses located outside northeastern Illinois to choose the Chicago metropolitan region over competing areas. The organization assists local governments in the Chicago metropolitan region by studying, recommending, developing and implementing regional policies and programs directed at removing barriers to economic growth. Partner Gail Morse and Discovery Attorney Matthew Par are seeking tax exempt status for GRGC.