CHICAGO (CBS) — A non-profit believes neighborhood transit is the catalyst for future economic growth in depressed areas of Chicago.

Elevated Chicago is made up of seventeen organizations – non-profits, community-centered and community-based.

Director Roberto Requejo said their goal is to strengthen racial equity, prosperity and resiliency in Chicago communities by using equitable transit-oriented development or eTOD.

He said eTOD is a great tool.

Elevated Chicago is a new initiative to strengthen racial equity, prosperity and resiliency in Chicago communities by using equitable transit-oriented development, or eTOD, as the catalyst for progress and change. (Photo courtesy of Elevated Chicago)

“We believe transit hubs and CTA stations are great, untapped resources to build a community around them,” Requejo said. “For a very long time, we built our cities around cars in auto-oriented development. It’s time to do something completely different.

“When you build around transit, it’s not only greener and sustainable, it’s also more accessible, it’s more affordable”.

Requejo knows achieving racial equity will take time.

The group of people leading Elevated Chicago, the initiative that is using equitable transit oriented-development to transform the neighborhoods around seven CTA train stations. (Photo courtesy of Elevated Chicago)

“It is hard, but we need to start at a place where we can even talk about it and we have the right tools and the right vocabulary.

“We’re trying to create a space where we can talk about race and differences and talk about how we all together can find the solutions to tackle the differences that exist socioeconomically in our neighborhoods,” he said.

Elevated Chicago, formed in February of this year, said it has awarded $700,000 in grants in its first six months to organizations such as “Black Girls Break Bread,” “Beyond This Point Performing Arts Association” and “The Metropolitan Planning Council.”

The organization is hosting a public symposium on Dec. 12 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. There will be featured speakers and panel discussions covering a range of topics including health, arts, and culture.