Chicago’s 'rooftop pastor' raises $20M to build South Side community center

Chicago’s "rooftop pastor" is coming down from his perch. 

Pastor Corey Brooks has reached his goal of raising $20 million to build a community center on the South Side in Woodlawn.

Pastor Brooks’ 11-month fundraising vigil started in November 2021 when he started raising money by camping out on a makeshift roof across the street from New Beginnings Church at 66th and King Drive. 

Founder of Project H.O.O.D., Brooks committed to camping on the top of a building across from his church after he said it had become a center of drugs, prostitution and violence. Project H.O.O.D. is community initiative started by Brooks and his wife to revitalize the neighborhood. 

He intended to spend 100 days sleeping in a tent, enduring Chicago’s cold, heat and storms, but he extended his stay to raise more money. 

Some comforts were added to the accommodations, including heating and cooling for the camping tents that housed him. 

Now, Brooks will be able to sleep in his own bed. Where his ten used to be, there will be a party to celebrate breaking ground on the new building, which will serve all ages.

He says the most frightening times were when he could hear gunfire, and he made sacrifices to stay committed to the cause. 

"While I was up here on the roof, my daughter had a baby, so I’m missing my grandson. Also, my mom died of cancer while I was up on this roof. But, you know, that’s life. You take the ups and the downs, you keep going, you stay motivated and endure it. Overall we've been blessed, and I’m really thankful."

Friday is the last night he will spend camping on the roof. Will he miss it?

He says, definitely not. He has a construction project ahead of him now.


Brooks says he still needs to raise another $15 million to complete the building without debt. 

He will appeal to generous donors all over the country, through social media and travel.