Our Story


Enlace Chicago convenes, organizes, and builds the capacity of Little Village stakeholders to confront systemic inequities and barriers to economic and social access.


Enlace Chicago is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of Little Village residents by fostering a safe and healthy environment and by championing opportunities for educational advancement and economic development.



Enlace is committed to accountability and transparency to ensure integrity, believes in building community power through collaboration and grassroots leadership, promotes livable communities with access and opportunity for all, and values social justice and systems change.

How We Work

Over the years, Enlace has adapted its work to meet the priorities, needs and interests of the community. Currently, its four areas of focus include education, health, immigration and violence prevention. Within and across each of these areas, Enlace engages four key strategies that include:

1) organizing and advocacy, 2) program implementation and service delivery, 3) convening and community planning and 4) individual and community capacity building.

Enlace believes in local leadership development as the basis for building community power. For more information about the Enlace Leadership Academy, click here.

Click here to download Enlace's brochure 


In 1990, a group of civic and community leaders in Little Village founded what was then called the Little Village Community Development Corporation (LVCDC). Their focus was to create a community-driven process for the development of the abandoned industrial park at 26th Street and Kostner Avenue. During the process of engaging residents, it became clear that there was a need for an organization committed to comprehensive community development across Little Village.


In 1998, LVCDC opened its first office and hired Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, former Little Village Alderman and Illinois State Senator, as its first Executive Director. LVCDC staff organized residents into block clubs, convened a collaborative of local organizations focused on violence prevention, and became involved with the struggle to support the development of a new high school in the community. This struggle ended in success after a 19-day hunger strike held on the site where the state-of-the-art Little Village Lawndale High School would finally open in 2005. LVCDC leaders understood the need to continue the organization’s work in education and began partnering with local public schools to transform them into Community Schools.


LVCDC quickly grew in size and scope after being selected as the lead partner agency for the New Communities Program through the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago and as the community partner for CeaseFire Chicago. The organization was renamed Enlace Chicago in 2008. Through Enlace’s four interconnected focus areas – education, health, immigration and violence prevention – dedicated staff work directly with more than 8,000 youth and adults in Little Village and surrounding communities.

In recognition of its accomplishments, Enlace has received the following awards:

  • 2020 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Healthy Community Award for its Community Health Workers Health Equity Initiative at the LISC Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards

  • 2018 Chicago Excellence in Gardening Award presented to the Enlace-supported community garden El Jardin de la Calabaza / Mr. Keeler's Pumpkin Eaters by the The Mike Nowak Show, University of Illinois Extension: Cook County, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Community Gardeners Association, Natural Awakenings Chicago Magazine, Advocates for Urban Agriculture, Chicago Park District, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Chicago Flower and Garden Show, GreenMark Public Relations and Chicagoland Gardening Magazine

  • 2017 Chicago Excellence in Gardening Award presented to the Enlace-supported community garden 6062Trees: Sembrando Bajo el Sol by The Mike Nowak Show, University of Illinois Extension: Cook County, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Community Gardeners Association, and Natural Awakenings Chicago Magazine

  • 2017 Community Schools Award for Excellence for its Neighborhood Community School Initiative from the Institute for Educational Leadership and the Coalition for Community Schools

  • 2017 Paletero Award for Partnership from the New Life Centers Little Village Urban Life Skills Program

  • 2015 Outstanding Community Plan Award for the 2013 Little Village Quality of Life Plan from The Chicago Community Trust at the LISC Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards

  • 2014 Midwest Affiliate of the Year Award from National Council of La Raza

  • 2014 Community Schools Initiative Award from Chicago Public Schools

  • 2014 Unsung Hero Award for the Safe Passage Program from Chicago Public Schools

  • 2014 Community-Police Partnership Award from MetLife Foundation

  • 2012 Community Strategy of the Year Award for Comprehensive Violence Prevention at the LISC Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards

  • 2011 CeaseFire Site of the Year Award from Cure Violence

  • 2011 Hani-Lozano Social Justice Award from People’s Weekly World

  • 2009 Dimon Award from the Federation for Community Schools

  • 2006 Non-Profit Community Building Award at the LISC Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards

  • 2004 National Neighborhood Excellence Award from Bank of America

  • 2003 Community Organizing Award from Woods Fund of Chicago, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, New Prospect Foundation, and Wieboldt Foundation

  • 2001 Neighborhood Award from Chicago Council on Urban Affairs