The zip code that contains most of Little Village—a predominantly Latinx neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side—has, as of early 2021, seen more COVID-19 deaths than any other zip code in the city.
Untold numbers of residents have lost jobs and struggled to keep their families fed and sheltered. But through Enlace Chicago, many in the neighborhood have found hope, resources, relief, and support.
Enlace is a 30-year-old community organizing agency that combines direct service with policy and advocacy work to advance progress on key issues impacting Little Village, from immigration to health, violence, and education. With its deep community roots and trusted relationships with residents, Enlace was ideally suited to lead a dynamic local response to COVID-19.
Enlace created the Little Village Emergency Assistance Fund, which helped nearly 800 families access emergency cash for necessities such as food, rent, and utilities. The agency also redeployed its resources in creative ways—for example, sending its violence prevention team and youth transport van to assist with meal distribution. Enlace’s response had a particular focus on undocumented community members, who are ineligible for federal stimulus money and other sources of government aid.
Although Enlace’s work has made a tangible difference for many, more sustainable solutions are needed. “There is still so much need, and we are still functioning in emergency mode,” says Katya Nuques, executive director. “That is why we continue to advocate and organize for policies and practices that will ultimately deliver more justice for our community.”
In 2020, Enlace received a $60,000 grant from the Trust to increase access to health care services and $100,000 in grants from the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund. The Trust is proud to support the critical role played by organizations like Enlace in creating the conditions needed to provide stability to individuals, families, and communities throughout the region.
“ Throughout all of this year’s challenges, organizations like Enlace have shown up for their communities. As funders, we need to show up for them.”
-Anna Lee, Director of Community Impact, The Chicago Community Trust