Innovative Healthcare Collaborative Announces First Community Grant

Grant expands community health workers in Little Village neighborhood

West Side United (WSU), a new healthcare collaborative focusing on revitalizing Chicago’s West Side communities, announced that Enlace Chicago (Enlace) is the recipient of its first community health grant. The award, totaling $125,000 out of a committed $1 million dollars in seed funding, allows Enlace to maximize healthcare opportunities by hiring eight to ten new community health workers to significantly expand access to high quality, coordinated health services in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood.

Launched early last year, WSU is a collaborative effort of people and organizations who work, live and congregate on Chicago’s West Side to make their neighborhoods stronger, healthier and more vibrant places to live. The collaborative is comprised of healthcare institutions, residents, civic leaders, community-based organizations, businesses and faith-based institutions.

Ayesha Jaco, West Side United’s Senior Program Director, summed up the grant award by adding, “The 500,000 people who live in the ten West Side neighborhoods experience disproportionate rates of chronic disease, including diabetes, asthma, hypertension and congestive heart failure compared to surrounding neighborhoods.” Jaco continued, “This alarming trend must come to an end and innovative programs like Enlace’s CHW initiatives will go a long way to correct this injustice. We are excited to partner with them and similar organizations seeking to alleviate healthcare imbalance on the West Side.”

Darlene Hightower, Associate Vice President, Office of Community Engagement and Practice at Rush University Medical Center, highlighted the opportunity that this grant will provide within the community, “We are thrilled to partner with Enlace on this transformational initiative to create additional healthcare opportunities here in Little Village.” Hightower continued, “West Side United and our partners are deeply committed to reversing the health inequities that are prevalent in our west side communities. Today’s grant is a great first step in helping make that a reality.”

Katya Nuques, Enlace’s Executive Director, shared Hightower’s sentiment adding, “Our organization is honored to be selected as a community healthcare partner to help amplify West Side United’s vision of improving healthcare on the West Side.” Nuques added, “With the support of West Side United, Enlace will reinforce our community health worker (CHW) initiatives in Little Village, creating better healthcare outcomes for over 1,500 residents.”

Enlace’s Health and Wellness Promotion Model focuses on maximizing local resources, including strong partners, community hubs, passionate leaders and a culture of wellness. Over the last five years, Enlace has supported the training and employment of trusted community leaders as CHWs who promote wellness, improve access to care, and prevent chronic disease in Little Village through education, patient navigation, advocacy and capacity-building.

Tameeka Christian, Neighborhood Network, LISC, credits a multisector working group for ensuring that the best interests of the community were met. “By working with a professional, knowledgeable and dedicated team, we were able to work through varying opinions and come to a consensus on the final grantee. In the end, we all felt comfortable with the decision and understood that we were doing what’s best for the communities we all love and serve!”

Today’s grant announcement serves as the beginning of WSU’s investment of over $2.8 million in West Side communities and projects.

About Enlace Chicago

Enlace Chicago convenes, organizes and builds the capacity of Little Village stakeholders to confront systemic inequities and barriers to economic and social access. It was founded in 1990 as the Little Village Community Development Corporation (LVCDC), when a group of local leaders created a community-driven process for the development of an abandoned industrial park.

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