New Chicago Program Holds First Vaccination Event In Largely Latino Belmont Cragin, Focusing On Child Care Workers (CBS)

Our own home-based Teacher Melissa was interviewed by CBS as she received a vaccine shot.

Watch the CBS Video Here

It’s no accident that the program’s first vaccination event was held in Belmont Cragin – the neighborhood with city’s largest Latino population and also among those hardest hit by the virus. Thousands of residents there have already been exposed.

“I did have COVID recently. It was a little scary,” said Melissa Mendez of Onward House in Belmont Cragin, a not-for-profit daycare. “Luckily, I was OK, but after that kind of scare, I was like, OK there is a vaccine, so I would love the opportunity to get one.”

Mendez got that chance on Saturday, along with over 200 others. Like everyone else who was out for their vaccines with her, Mendez works in childcare…

“I would go into homes,” she said. “We would do education with the children once a week.”

She said getting children to wear a mask has proven impossible. But doing her work remotely has, in some ways, been worse.

“It’s so hard to do it with the screen, but the little ones are telling me, ‘Come over, and I’m like, ‘I can’t, I’m so sorry,’” Mendez said. “It’s hard watching them suffer through this pandemic too.”

She wears her love for the kids she cares for on her sleeve.

Thus, rolling up her literal sleeve to get the vaccine was an emotional moment — one step closer to the way things were, and one step closer to safety from the virus for those she loves.


“I feel really good,” Mendez said. “I’m the first in my family. They were excited for me to get vaccinated. They wanted to know how I felt. They were nervous as well. It’s a really nice feeling to know your community is getting better.”

In addition to focusing on a primarily Latino community, the initiative Saturday with Protect Chicago Plus focused on child care providers in particular – with the hope that while parents are working, providers can safely watch after their children in person.

In total, the city will hone in on 15 of Chicago’s hardest-hit minority neighborhoods, such as Englewood and Humboldt Park.

– Reported by CBS’s Marissa Parra February 6, 2021 at 10:47 pm

COVID Update: JCK Boutique Moves to The Bounce

Many businesses and industries that have been impacted by COVID-19 like shops catering to Quinceañeras, a cultural staple.  Estella, an Onward House student, opened JCK Boutique 5 years ago, and has taken Onward House digital literacy classes, including e-commerce and one-one on one technical assistance. Most recently, she graduated from The Lab, Onward House’s entrepreneurship program. COVID-19 and the shelter in place order severely impacted her business. She reached out to Onward House, and as a graduate of The Lab, was able to move in to The Bounce, our affordable retail accelerator, and reduce her rent 78% until her business recovers.

Watch the full story here (Telemundo – Spanish): https://www.telemundochicago.com/videos/videos-noticias/se-viene-abajo-el-negocio-de-las-quinceaneras-en-chicago/2109907/

Invest in our children at birth to build racial equity

Now is the time for radical change to ensure our children have a better world than the one they are witnessing today.

As we rebuild from this pandemic and global recession amid a reignited civil rights movement, we recognize that physical safety is only part of what’s needed to open early childhood programs safely. It will take a significant public and private investment to erase the zip code disadvantage baked into our early childhood education system, when the burden of COVID-19 continues to weigh most heavily on communities already suffering from educational inequity.

We speak as the leaders of 14 mostly minority-led and -staffed community nonprofits serving tens of thousands of children and families across the City. As we resume in-person programming, continue distance learning, family support check-ins, and distribution of food and essential supplies, our high-quality early childhood programs will ensure Chicago’s working families can return to their jobs and communities can thrive.

The children we support, their families, and our staff are the individuals now deemed “essential” to help keep the economy functioning during the pandemic. We insist that their well-being and potential also be declared essential.

Today, 83% of Chicago Public Schools students come from low-income households and only one in every four kids is ready for kindergarten across Illinois. While we work to bridge the opportunity gap, our efforts to promote equity are swamped by critical responses to COVID-19. We are adding remote engagement and family support, including mental health interventions, while facing decreasing enrollment and more absences.

COVID-19 is destabilizing our classrooms. Without stable funding, we can’t fulfill our promise.

Our mission includes a commitment to family engagement and advocacy, which is linked to a child’s future education and life success. That’s why we’re calling on our funding partners to draw on our experience as community representatives to inform allocation of the resources that can lead our children to a more equitable future.

Governor Pritzker and the Illinois legislature: thank you for appropriations to support early childhood education providers. You and other state leaders must continue to advocate at the state and federal levels for more resources, including relaxing the Childcare Assistance Program monthly attendance requirement from 79.5% to 50% due to COVID-19-related absences through June, 2021.

Mayor Lightfoot and DFSS: we’re grateful for your continued funding. With increases through an allocation of the CARES ACT resources or other funds for early childhood education, we can more aggressively address inequities. Private sector supporters: please increase support for general operating needs to help us address the unexpected and unknown.

In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll see more ways in which responding to systemic racism requires us to learn and unlearn how we live and work together as Chicagoans. We remain committed to that effort in partnership with public and private funders, and with an undying commitment to our families who trust us to advocate–now and as long as inequities exist.

Early Childhood Education CEO Roundtable Current Members
Asian Human Services ∙ Carole Robertson Center for Learning ∙ Centers for New Horizons ∙ Chicago Child Care Society ∙ Chicago Commons ∙ Chinese American Service League ∙ Christopher House ∙ Concordia Place ∙ El Valor ∙ Erie Neighborhood House ∙ Gads Hill Center Metropolitan Family Services ∙ Onward Neighborhood House ∙ YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago

Invierta en nuestros niños al nacer para desarrollar equidad racial


Ha llegado el momento para un cambio radical para poder procurar que nuestros niños tengan un mundo mejor que el que están presenciando hoy.

Mientras nos recuperamos de esta pandemia y recesión global en medio de un movimiento de derechos civiles reiniciado, nosotros reconocemos que la seguridad física solamente es parte de lo que se necesita para poder abrir los programas de primera infancia de manera segura y confiable. Tomará una inversión significante pública y privada para eliminar la desventaja del código postal integrada en nuestro sistema de educación de primera infancia, cuando la carga de COVID-19 sigue pesando más en las comunidades que ya están sufriendo de la inequidad educativa.

Hablamos como líderes de 14 organizaciones comunitarias sin fines de lucro, la mayoría dirigidas y atendidas por minorías, que sirven a decenas de miles de niños y familias por toda la Ciudad. En cuanto resumamos los programas en persona, continuaremos el aprendizaje a distancia, los chequeos de apoyo familiar y la distribución de alimentos y suministros esenciales, nuestros programas de primera infancia de alta calidad asegurarán que las familias trabajadoras de Chicago puedan regresar a sus trabajos y que las comunidades puedan prosperar.

Los niños que apoyamos, sus familias y nuestro personal son las personas ahora consideradas “esenciales” para ayudar a mantener la economía funcionando durante la pandemia. Insistimos que su bienestar y potencial también sean considerados esenciales.

Varias fuentes críticas de financiamiento del gobierno continúan brindando financiamiento flexible a medida que se vuelven a abrir los centros de cuidado infantil. Sin embargo, el “CEO Roundtable” está pidiendo ajustes y flexibilidad adicional a los criterios de calificación para reflejar las realidades actuales sobre el terreno relacionadas a las fluctuaciones en la asistencia y la inscripción.
Hoy, el 83% de los estudiantes de las Escuelas Públicas de Chicago vienen de hogares de bajos ingresos y solamente uno de cada cuatro niños está listo para kindergarten en todo Illinois. Mientras trabajamos en cerrar la brecha de oportunidades, nuestros esfuerzos de promover la equidad son inundados por respuestas críticas a COVID-19. Estamos agregando participación remota y apoyo familiar, incluyendo intervenciones de salud mental, mientras enfrentamos inscripciones decrecientes y mayores ausencias.
COVID-19 está desestabilizando nuestros salones de clase. Sin una financiación estable, no podemos cumplir nuestras promesas.

Nuestra misión incluye un compromiso a la participación y promoción familiar, la cual está enlazada con el futuro éxito educativo y en la vida del niño. Por eso estamos pidiendo que nuestros socios de financiación aprovechen de nuestra experiencia como representantes comunitarios para informar la asignación de los recursos que pueden llevar a nuestros niños a un futuro más equitativo.

Gobernador Pritzker y legislatura de Illinois: gracias por las consignaciones para apoyar a los proveedores de educación de primera infancia. Ustedes y los otros líderes estatales tienen que seguir abogando a los niveles estatales y federales para mayores recursos, esto incluye moderar el requisito de asistencia mensual del Programa de Asistencia de Cuidado de Niños de 79.5% a 50% debido a las ausencias relacionadas con COVID-19 hasta junio 2021.

Alcaldesa Lightfoot y DFSS: estamos agradecidos por su continuo financiamiento. Con aumentos por medio de una asignación de recursos de la Acta CARES u otros fondos para la educación de primera infancia, podemos abordar las inequidades de manera más agresiva. Apoyadores del sector privado: por favor aumenten su ayuda para las necesidades generales de funcionamiento para así nosotros poder abordar lo inesperado y desconocido.

Durante los próximos días y semanas, veremos más maneras en que podemos responder al racismo sistémico que requiere que aprendamos y desaprendamos cómo vivir y trabajar juntos como Chicaguenses. Seguimos comprometidos a ese esfuerzo en asociación con los financiadores públicos y privados y con un compromiso imperecedero a nuestras familias que confían en nosotros para abogar – ahora y siempre que las inequidades existan.


Miembros Actuales de la Mesa Redonda de Directores Generales de la Educación de Primera Infancia
Asian Human Services ∙ Carole Robertson Center for Learning ∙ Centers for New Horizons ∙ Chicago Child Care Society ∙ Chicago Commons ∙ Chinese American Service League ∙ Christopher House ∙ Concordia Place ∙ El Valor ∙ Erie Neighborhood House ∙ Gads Hill Center Metropolitan Family Services ∙ Onward Neighborhood House ∙ YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago

This Logan Square Storefront Is Now Home To Emerging Minority- And Women-Owned Businesses Thanks To A Local Nonprofit

“This is a great opportunity for the community at large to support these businesses so they can grow,” said Mario García, executive director for Onward House. “They will not only be impacting a business, they will be impacting families that are trying to make a better economic life for themselves.”

EXCERPT: A Belmont Cragin-based nonprofit is lifting up minority and women entrepreneurs who would’ve otherwise had a difficult time launching their small businesses by giving them affordable retail space in Logan Square.

Onward Neighborhood House is opening its first-ever “retail accelerator” in a long-vacant storefront at 3633-37 W. Fullerton Ave. Saturday is the grand opening. A short program is scheduled for 3 p.m.

The entrepreneurs are recent graduates of the nonprofit’s business incubator program, now in its third year.

Casa Brow, a semi-permanent makeup and microblading business from Hermosa resident Vanessa Puente, and Namaslay Yoga from Pilsen resident Hayde Canales, are the first two businesses to move into the storefront.

Read the full Block Club Article here!