Community Male Empowerment Project (CMEP) is a not-for-profit organization in Chicago, Illinois, founded in 2002 with the mission of reducing crime, changing lives, rebuilding communities, and restoring hope. In addition to its initiatives focused on job readiness and life skills, CMEP achieves this mission by acquiring foreclosed or abandoned residential properties and employing formerly incarcerated and other community members to rehabilitate them. Rehabbed properties are then donated, rented, or sold to low- to moderate-income families. Through these efforts, CMEP revitalizes Chicago communities by providing housing, employment, and on-the-job training.
Other integral parts of its mission are CMEP's counseling services and on-the-job training. These
efforts guarantee that community members employed as construction workers and rehabilitators
on CMEP projects have the support they need to make the most out of this employment
opportunity. These workers are often formerly incarcerated, undereducated, or otherwise underserved individuals who are at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of gang violence. As such, their ability to contribute to the rehabilitation work, and to leverage the opportunity to improve their long-term earning potential, depends on the services CMEP provides. These services include construction training, mentoring, social services, life skills, and conflict resolution training. CMEP partners with investors and construction contractors to provide these services in a way that benefits the workers, the investor, and the broader community.
CMEP's success is driven by strong relationships with banks, the City of Chicago, and the National Community Stabilization Trust (NCST). These authorities often hold title to, and facilitate CMEP's acquisition of, distressed properties. For example, in partnership with investors and construction contractors, CMEP has acquired hundreds of bank-owned properties. It has similarly renovated over thousands of properties through its partnerships specifically though the NCST, a national nonprofit that facilitates purchases of distressed properties. CMEP also serves as a court-appointed receiver for abandoned properties. In short, CMEP's good reputation with these authorities is essential to its community revitalization mission. To maintain the integrity of its reputation, CMEP ensures that it executes its contractual obligations to buy and rehabilitate properties in a timely fashion, according to the highest standards of professionalism.