Enlace believes in local leadership development as the basis for building community power. 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’s organizing and advocacy model is focused on building power and unity in Little Village in order to address inequitable and unjust policies and practices in critical areas such as education, immigration, health, and the justice system.
The organizing team of Enlace, in conjunction with the League of Women Voters of Chicago and Univision Chicago, will host a 22nd Aldermanic Forum at the Little Village Lawndale High School Campus as part of their work to Get Out The Vote. “The goal of this forum is to help increase voter engagement and voter turnout. The 22nd and 12th Wards historically do not not come out to vote, especially in Little Village Precincts. This makes it harder for elected officials to be held accountable,” explains Cesar Nuñez, Director of Organizing at Enlace, who has been working hard alongside the organizing team to inform community residents about the importance of registering and voting since the summer, in advance of the November and February elections.
Youth engagement is also an important part of the upcoming forum, and a student from Infinity, Math, Science, and Technology High School (one of the four schools on the Little Village Lawndale High School Campus) will be co-moderating the event.
The Aldermanic forum will provide an opportunity for residents, especially youth, to raise the issues important to them in this election, and to get excited about voting. “We don’t care who you vote for, we want to make sure our community IS voting, and has spaces to raise their concerns,” says Nuñez. The forum will provide a space for residents to hear from all the candidates and to begin to establish a relationship with the future Alderperson, before the election on February 26. “We are living in a historical moment in Chicago, where you have more than 20 people running for Mayor and many of the old guard are preparing to leave City Council, ” explains Nuñez. Not all of our community members are able to vote because of age and immigration status, but everyone has a role in deciding who our representatives are and in holding them accountable to our community.
“On election day, February 26, we will be out in the neighborhood making sure our community is getting out to vote, participating in the process, and being heard,” says Enlace’s Director of Organizing, who thinks the Aldermanic forum hosted by Enlace, and others planned in the community for both the 22nd and 12th Wards, are a step towards increased accountability at the local level.
Enlace’s organizing team is also a part of the following campaigns or initiatives:
Welcoming Illinois, which advocated for three pieces of progressive immigration reform legislation at the state level. The campaign accomplished the passage of VOICES Act which increase protections for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, trafficking, and other offenses.
Eradication of the Chicago Gang Database which Impacts Chicago’s Black and Latino population disproportionately, with potentially devastating consequences, no transparency, and no checks and balances. Enlace and other organizations are pushing for the end of both Chicago and Cook County’s gang databases contend being included in the database can make it hard to get a job, find housing, lead to false arrest, incarceration, deportation and denial of a citizenship application.
Advocating for parents against Chicago Public Schools’ Background Check Policy. Many Little Village parent leaders are wary or incapable of completing a background check and/or fingerprinting. Enlace’s organizing team engaged new parents and worked hand-in-hand with Parent Mentors.
Enlace organizers and leaders will continue to adapt and respond to the increasingly dangerous climate that has been created around immigration policy and enforcement by increasing relevant education and support for community members, and supporting local partners in coordinating efforts. Learn more about Our Local Leaders here.
*The forum, originally planned for Thursday, January 31, had to be postponed due to Chicago Public Schools being closed as a result of extreme cold weather. We will share a new date and location as soon as possible. Stay tuned!