Chicago Pastor Corey Brooks sleeping outside for 100 days to raise money for community center

Chicago’s famous "Rooftop Pastor" is back up on the roof again. Pastor Corey Brooks plans to spend 100 days living outdoors on top of some freight containers, in an effort to raise millions of dollars for a community center in Woodlawn.

You may recall it was exactly 10 years ago that Pastor Brooks spent three months on the roof of a troubled motel to raise money to tear it down. Now the goal is to build something special in its place.

"It’s going pretty good," said Brooks, as he warmed his hands over a wood fire on top of the roof Sunday evening. "There’s some things I know I forgot from last time like winterizing the tent. I almost froze one of the CEOs last night but he forgave me."

Ten years ago, Brooks made international headlines when he spent three months on top of a crime-infested motel across the street from his church, raising nearly a half million dollars to tear the motel down.


Now on that empty lot are four stacked metal freight containers symbolizing the thirty million dollar community center he wants to build here . The community center would include classrooms , job training , restaurants , a theater and a gym . "We want to continue to bring awareness to the violence that’s going on in our community," Brooks said. "The poverty in our community. And all of that is centered around raising funds to build a community center to fight those issues."

Brooks climbed on top of the freight containers Saturday afternoon to begin the 100 day fundraising effort. He’s sleeping in a tent with a basic cot and a small heater, and a computer to stay connected with the outside world.

But unlike his experience a decade ago, this time Brooks will have company. As part of his fundraising strategy he’s inviting some of Chicago’s top business CEOs, athletes, actors and other leaders to spend the night with him on the rooftop. "Last night we had a couple CEOs who were surprised because there was some gunfire. They could hear it. It was in the distance. But just being able to hear it, especially when they’re not used to it, is something that catches you off guard."

Brooks has already raised about $10 million for the community center, which need means he needs to raise another $20 million over the next 99 days. He says no matter how windy and cold it gets this winter, he’s warmed by those helping out. "We need people to go to and to give… give as much as they can. And for those who can’t give, listen. Just send a note of encouragement, send up a prayer. We greatly appreciate it."