COVID-19 Update

March 16, 2020

Due to the growing concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Onward House has made the difficult decision to close programs to preserve the health and safety of families and staff members.

Onward House will be closed starting Wednesday, March 18, and plans to open again on Monday, March 30.

  • All in-person meetings and events will be canceled through March 30, 2020.
  • Staff will be working remotely and will be in touch with the families to provide support during the closing. We are fully aware of the difficulties this crisis is or will bring to you and your family.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu with fever, coughing and shortness of breath. It appears to mainly spread through close person- to- person contact. It may be possible for someone to touch a surface or object with the virus on it and then touch their nose or mouth and become infected, but this is not the main way the virus spreads, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health experts.

Onward House diligently follows Universal Precautions for infection control and is increasing the frequency of this to assure that we are doing everything possible to keep everyone who comes to our building safe. There are currently no known cases of COVID-19 at Onward House.

Please help stop the spread of COVID by following these precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer that is at least 60% Alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Avoid close proximity to other people.
  • If possible, stay home.

Your Family Support Worker will be in touch with you on a regular basis during the time we are closed to provide assistance to you and your family.

*Need to reach a staff member, and not sure who to contact? Send us a message via Contact Form and we will connect you*

Stay Healthy!

Mario F. Garcia

Executive Director

Winter Newsletter 2019

“I love this center because they treat my children like family…all of my children have been a part of this program.”

Chicago is a world-class city built by immigrants. Since our founding in 1868, Onward Neighborhood House has been refuge and community center for hundreds of thousands of newcomers who left their home county and arrived in Chicago to work, open businesses, educate their children, and become American citizens. Our work continues to make that vision a

  • As the city of Chicago moves forward with universal pre-K, we will continue to provide early childhood education and expand our home-based program.
  • We recently launched The Bounce in Logan Square – an affordable yet highly-visible space for minority entrepreneurs to grow their businesses in a rapidly changing community. Our entrepreneurship incubator, The Lab, has had nearly 40 students complete business plans with the larger goal of building sustainable wealth and jobs in the community.
  • In today’s political climate we have stepped up to fear by partnering with agencies who can provide more in-depth legal guidance for those residents seeking to become citizens.
  • Next year we will use our resources to ensure that our community participates in the census so that no barrier – time, technology, or anxiety – will stop them from being counted.

Your support of our mission changes the lives of hundreds of families and individuals each year. From our new American citizen Efrain, to Evelyn, who knows when school is closed her child still has safe place to go, to the hundreds of families who use our food pantry to cover their most basic needs…Because of you we can help make the American dream a reality, not
just for immigrants, but anyone who seeks our support to thrive in our community.

Thanks to you, we will be here for them. Thank you for your support,

Mario F. Garcia
Executive Director, Onward House

“My son had a problem with his speech and his progress has become so much better for him and for me. This program has helped him to go to school.”

One Pizza Delivery Inspires a Career in Computers

“My name is James. I am Colombian and I immigrated to the United States with zero knowledge in computer science. I worked at Pizza Hut as a delivery driver and made a delivery to Onward House at 600 N. Leavitt St. where I learned that this wonderful place would change my life forever.

I had my first contact with a computer from Professor Mauricio Blanco. Mauricio taught me how to use the computer mouse, basic internet, and Microsoft Office. The knowledge that I acquired from then on was very important to apply for and enter university.

In 2011 I obtained a degree in AAS-CIS-Computer Hardware Information Systems. As thanks to Onward House, I volunteered in their computer classes, as I have also been a teacher in that area. I now work at the University of San Agustín in the area of Technical Support of Financial Support. My job is to keep the institution up-to-date with federal and state programs. Now I also have my BS-CIS Network Systems Administrator degree. My next project is to start the Master’s degree in Database Security in the spring of 2020. From the first day at Onward House, I set goals and today I can say they have been fulfilled.

I am very grateful to my teacher and friend Mauricio, Mr. Mario Garcia, and all the people there who help so much.

Thank you very much.”


To view photos of James and share this success story, click here.

2019 Program Highlights

Focus on Social-Emotional Wellness: Selected School-Age program
students took part in an 8-week improv-based pilot program with our
partner Poverty Alleviation Charities to help students build confidence
through meditation and improvisational theater games.
2020 Vision: We’re adding We Thinkers! social-emotional curriculum
enhancement to our Early Childhood Education program. This curriculum will give teachers new tools and learning experiences to help children with their behavior.

Support Services & Engagement: Our Food Pantry distributed 66,207 lbs
of food from the Greater Chicago Food Depository, plus additional donations of food from volunteers and partners.

Partnerships: We provided workshops on topics related to immigration,
immigration rights, and citizenship. We are responsive to community
needs through partnerships including Latinos Progresando for immigration workshops, Instituto Del Progresso Latino for Financial Literacy and Credit workshops, CTA for hiring events, City of Chicago for the City Key.
2020 Vision: A partnership with Healthcare Alternative Systems to
provide a part time mental health professional on-site for adult education students and parents so they can get the care in a trusted environment.

Workforce & Technology: Approximately 150 walk-ins were served with
technology access for specific needs, or connected to referrals for other
nonprofit partners. Overall, 1,027 individuals enrolled in our Adult
Education classes. Nearly 60 individuals participated in more than one
class, most commonly enrolling in English as a Second Language and
Computer Training. Data taken during enrollment indicates our students
earn an average income of $9,616, with 39% unemployed.
2020 Vision: Continue to partner with organizations who can provide
individual workshops and training to the community.

Entrepreneurship: Since our launch last year, ninety people have signed
up for The Lab, our entrepreneurship class, and 38 have completed their
business plan and pitched it to a panel of professionals for feedback, funding, and connections. Many have moved forward with their business
plans. In September, we launched the Bounce, a retail accelerator for those
ready for a highly visible, affordable retail space.
2020 Vision: Continue to address barriers to entrepreneurship. We will
place two additional businesses into The Bounce, and utilize the space for pop-up markets and other related events.

“What I like the most is that my kids are taken out on field trips and to the park and that they are also picked up from school.”

Save the Date! Night of Bright Futures Leap Day Gala

What will you do with your extra day? Onward House is
hosting its annual gala on Leap Day 2020! Join us for music,
dancing, food, and refreshments as we celebrate the power of people coming together to open doors to improve lives and uplift communities through our unique bend of services.

Saturday, February 29, 2020
7 PM at Revel Fulton Market
1215 W Fulton Market

Take the stress out of holiday shopping with gala tickets for friends and family while making a lasting impact on Onward House.
Individual tickets – $150
Tables of 8 – $1,200
Tables of 10 – $1,500

Host an Online Giving Tuesday Fundraiser December 3

The holiday season is the time Onward House receives the most donations for our annual fund, which supports our work throughout the year.
Use Facebook or sign-up for a personal fundraising page through our secure fundraising site, where friends and family can donate to Onward House.

Rocio “Fixes Everything” with SEO Skills

When Rocio first started her business selling decorative wreaths, she set up an online shop without knowing much about eCommerce. She had heard it was so easy that everything took care of itself.

While she was able to produce high-quality wreaths, her sales were far below what she expected. After a year of slow sales, a friend gave her a flyer for Onward’s eCommerce classes. To Rocio, it felt like a sign.

Continue reading “Rocio “Fixes Everything” with SEO Skills”

Golf Outing 2018

Thank you to everyone who supported and attended the Annual Onward House Charity Golf Tournament, presented by Inteliquent and Transparent Container on Thursday, September 13 at Ruffled Feathers Golf Club located at 1 Pete Dye Dr, Lemont, IL 60439.

Continue reading “Golf Outing 2018”