Aquinas Literacy Center Associate Director Sabrina Poulin, left, and Executive Director Alison Altmeyer stand outside the center at 1751 W. 35th St.

$1.5 Million Neighborhood Resiliency Program Coming to McKinley Park

Published October 26, 2022

With the financial support from the Adrian Dominican Sisters, the Aquinas Literacy Center in Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood will lead administration of a $1.5 million Resilient Community Initiative to help the local immigrant community.

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“The McKinley Park Resilient Community Initiative is transformative,” said Alison Altmeyer, Executive Director of Aquinas Literacy Center, headquartered at 1751 W. 35th St., Chicago.

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“The various elements of the plan provide opportunities to empower immigrants through education, employment, community organizing and development,” Altmeyer said.

Beginning in 2023

According to an announcement from the literacy center, the initiative will unite community members, non-profit organizations, educational and religious institutions, and business owners. It is slated to start at the beginning of 2023 and run for three years.

“We made this investment as part of a congregational commitment to help build resilient communities,” said Prioress Patricia Siemen, OP, of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

“We have high hopes that this investment will bring incalculable returns in the enriched lives of people in the McKinley Park neighborhood,” Siemen said.

McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan

The McKinley Park Resilient Community Initiative leverages the McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan and feedback from a coalition of community stakeholders to structure its activities and priorities, the announcement stated.

To help administer the program, Aquinas will hire two organizers: one focused on the neighborhood’s Spanish-speaking Latino community and the other on Chinese-languages speakers in the neighborhood, the announcement said.

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Another initiative the program will fund is a comprehensive Adult Education Hub that offers both English-language learning and support services like GED instruction; citizenship classes; help with resumes, job applications and employment; and expanding the scope of literacy topics to include computers, finances, civics and the environment.

Program Partners

In addition to Aquinas Literacy Center, Equity for All of Us, Just Roots Chicago and the McKinley Park Development Council will collaborate with community residents and neighborhood organizations in implementing elements of the program.

Altmeyer noted that the Adrian Dominican Sisters have been a longtime partner of Aquinas Literacy Center, as well as have had involvement in the neighborhood stretching back into the early 1900s, such as at Our Lady of Good Counsel School.

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Siemens described Aquinas as one of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ “local partners that have capacity to maximize impact in places where our Sisters have had a long-term engagement.”

“Aquinas Literacy Center is one such dynamic partner,” she said.

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