In 1990, a group of local leaders 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 an abandoned industrial park. While engaging residents, the need for an organization committed to comprehensive community development was identified. In 1998, LVCDC opened its first office and hired its first staff. Staff organized block clubs, convened the Violence Prevention Collaborative (VPC), and became involved with the struggle to support the development of a new high school. This struggle ended in success after a 19-day hunger strike held on the site where the Little Village Lawndale High School would finally open in 2005.

 

After the success of the hunger strike, community leaders understood the need to continue expanding educational opportunities in the neighborhood, and began to partner with local schools to create Community Schools. LVCDC quickly grew in size and scope after the expansion of its Community Schools initiative and after being selected as the community partner for CeaseFire Chicago. This programmatic growth created a platform for the organization to significantly increase its impact, as well as its base of community leaders. After becoming the lead partner agency for the New Communities Program through the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago and supporting the creation of the 2005 Little Village Quality of Life Plan, LVCDC began to expand its role as convener.

 

The organization was renamed Enlace Chicago in 2008. In addition to the VPC, Enlace has been a founding member and/or convener of eight neighborhood networks. It also participates in a range of local, regional and national coalitions focused on policy and systems change. In 2013, Enlace facilitated a revision of the Quality of Life Plan, engaging over 650 people and 80 diverse institutions in a broad, inclusive and participatory planning process to define transformative neighborhood strategies for the next 5 to 10 years. Now, through Enlace’s four interconnected focus areas – education, community 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:

  • 2022 Mayor's Medal of Honor

  • 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

  • 2019 Neighborhood Builders Award from Bank of America

  • 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

OUR STORY