As part of our Neighborhood Network Initiative, United Way is working with ten neighborhoods to establish bold community goals that can be addressed by area stakeholders. Work in our first two Neighborhood Network communities of Brighton Park and West Chicago continues to show strong results. The eight other communities—Auburn Gresham, Austin, Bronzeville, Cicero, Evanston, Little Village, Robbins/Blue Island and South Chicago—are in the planning stages and have been meeting consistently, mapping needs and services and working toward goals for their communities. We are excited about the progress in each of the neighborhoods, which includes bringing new partners and resources to the table, as we work together to address critical needs.
Highlights of recent work in Neighborhood Network communities include:
Wells Fargo announced a commitment to invest in the United Way Neighborhood Network Initiative in Austin, contributing $300,000, significant volunteer hours and strategic insight to help advance the community transformation strategy. Wells Fargo will be working with United Way and Austin Coming Together, the lead coalition in the Neighborhood Network, on improving 3rd-grade success, a key milestone for further educational attainment. “As a company, we believe that Wells Fargo cannot succeed unless our communities succeed,” said Lisa Johnson, Wells Fargo’s Midwest division manager for Commercial Banking and chair of the bank’s Chicago Leadership Council. “We are deeply committed to supporting organizations like United Way that positively influence the quality of life for neighborhoods throughout Chicago.”
Wells Fargo announced their investment in the Neighborhood Network with a volunteer day on Wednesday, September 30. Volunteers completed a number of projects in the neighborhood, including facilitating programs with kindergarten and first grade students at Moving Everest Charter School, assisting with programs at New Moms, Inc. and leading a community clean-up effort in Austin’s 37th Ward, which has a high concentration of foreclosures and abandonments.
On October 16, the Marshall Square Resource Network, a partner of the United Way Neighborhood Network in Little Village, led a march of residents and community leaders through Marshall Square to bring awareness to domestic violence issues in the neighborhood.
In the 10th District where Marshall Square is located, an average of 20-29 domestic abuse related calls were made each day in 2014. The neighborhood has the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the city of Chicago (approximately 20,000) and the challenges that undocumented victims of abuse face are multi-layered. They often do not seek help because of language issues, the lack of connections outside the home, the fear of what will happen to children and other family members, the threat of deportation and the shame of the abuse.
In a rally following the march, representatives from the Marshall Square Resource Network and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago discussed the challenges in the neighborhood and announced a community-wide goal to reduce instances of domestic violence. Efforts include providing immigration legal services for undocumented victims of violence, offering counseling and education for both victims and perpetrators of violence, making connections to meet food, shelter, healthcare and other needs and engaging youth in safe activities that build skills like conflict resolution, confidence and an understanding of healthy relationships.
To learn more about United Way’s Neighborhood Network Initiative, visit www.LIVEUNITEDChicago.org/neighborhoodnetwork or contact Keith Lewis at Keith.Lewis@uw-mc.org or call 312-906-2490.