Our Food Pantry needs continue to grow: Please consider volunteering, donating food, or hosting a food drive. Our needs can be found here.

Onward House staff have been working hard to ensure that we support our community:

  • Early Childhood & School Age Programs: On July 7, we reopened our classrooms. In September, our School Age program opened full-day to help students with their remote learning. Our teachers are using e-learning curricula, and are supporting families via phone and video.
  • Computer Classes: When Northwest Housing CDC and First Midwest Bank needed computer training to help businesses prepare to apply for loans/grants assistance, they contacted Onward House. First Midwest Bank provided financial support to help us continue to close the digital divide, by offering tailored computer training through platforms like Zoom and WhatsApp for those who need email addresses and basic computer skills, to navigate an all-virtual world of assistance funds.
  • Food Pantry: In April, we saw the number of people coming to the food pantry surge from 40 to 60 families to over 250 families. Those of us who are not high-risk for Covid-19 have taken shifts to pack and hand out food packages, diapers, and other necessities.
  • Cash Assistance: As of August 2020, we have distributed $48,649.50 in cash assistance to help families struggling to pay rent and utility bills.
  • Restaurant Program: A grant from the Lavin Foundation has allowed us to partner with two restaurants: Las Americas Grill and Latin Patio, to provide free meals to approximately 210 children and parents from Onward House through July and August. This grant provides income for the restaurants, as well as a hot, stress-free meal once a week for families.
  • The Bounce: We worked with a graduate of The Lab, JCK Boutique, to help them get back on their feet by reducing their rental costs by 78%. Additionally, five businesses received approved PPP loan grants through Onward House application assistance.

Direct Relief

While Onward House is financially stable at this moment, we know that the ripple effects of financial hardship will last the longest for our families with few resources. We have made hundreds of phone calls to collect data on basic necessities, childcare arrangements, financial situations, technology needs, and providing referrals where necessary. Our recent survey data show that:

  • Thirty-five percent of the people we have been in contact with have been laid off or lost their jobs – they are cleaners, caregivers, food & restaurant workers, spa/salon workers, and factory workers.
  • Over half of the 227 people we’ve surveyed reported difficulty paying for their expenses, including rent, utilities, and grocery bills.

Our friend, former staff and board member Linda, has started a campaign for direct financial support that will go towards our most vulnerable families, including those who do not qualify for other relief funds. We have also received emergency funds from the Chicago Community Trust’s COVID-19 Relief fund toward this effort. We have distributed approximately $23,000 to 26 families to help pay their rent and utilities. If you’d like to donate to our direct-assistance fund, you can do so here. Of course you can always donate to Onward House, and we will allocate it to programs that support our entire community.

In the coming months we will be working to expand our social services, access PPE, finalize a reopening plan, and continue to serve as a hub for support, services, information, and resources for 5,500 neighbors annually. You can read thank you notes from those who have received services from us during the COVID-19 crisis.

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