Addressing our communities’ most immediate needs has always been—and always will be—foundational to the Trust’s work. In 2021, one of our most urgent priorities was making sure Chicago’s Black and Latinx communities were not left behind in the COVID vaccine rollout.
In 2021, the Trust was a lead supporter and participant in the Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership—a coalition of 160+ organizations dedicated to helping communities work together to get more COVID vaccine shots into the arms of Black and Latinx residents.
A hub of the Health First Collaborative, incubated by Michael Reese and facilitated by global health justice experts Partners In Health, the vaccine partnership boosted vaccination rates in COVID-vulnerable neighborhoods by turning to the people who best know how to reach them—trusted community members, organizers, and leaders.
“A solution should always be driven by the people who are most proximal to the issue. The Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership created the conditions for impacted communities to design and inform the strategy for vaccine outreach.“
RACHEL REICHLIN, MPH MSN RN SENIOR PROGRAM OFFICER MICHAEL REESE HEALTH TRUST
A Nationally Recognized Approach
Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership’s community-based strategy helped Chicago become one of five U.S. cities selected for the Rockefeller Foundation’s historic $20 million Equity-First Vaccine Initiative. Rockefeller’s support allowed the Trust to grant an additional $1.6 million to 24 partner organizations.
Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership’s Year One Impacts
$2.5m+ granted to more than 100 community-based partners
3k+ vaccine ambassadors trained
6k+ people vaccinated and 41k+ reached at community events
10k+ vaccine appointments scheduled via mobile tool
600+ community members shared their voices to inform the partnership’s efforts
Spotlight on Belmont Cragin
Belmont Cragin, a predominantly Latinx community on Chicago’s Northwest Side, had the state’s highest COVID-19 rates at the beginning of the pandemic. Spearheading the neighborhood’s vaccine outreach campaign was Northwest Center. Like most Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership organizations, Northwest Center had never been a public health organization. But learning how to meet community members’ needs for things like masks, COVID-19 tests, and cash assistance during the first year of the pandemic prepared the organization to spring into action once the vaccine became available.
With financial resources and training from the Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership, Northwest Center was able to help launch and support one of the city’s first weekly pop-up vaccine clinics. Thanks to the organization’s efforts, by the end of 2021 Belmont Cragin’s vaccination rate had risen from under 10 percent to 84.5 percent—the highest of all Chicago neighborhoods of color.
“The Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership showed a different way of operating that works because it’s centered on community. We threw away all our preconceived notions about what public health is, and now we have a model that can be replicated for other challenges, be it violence, education, community development, or housing.”