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About Us

Our Mission

The mission of Heartland Health Outreach and its Vital Bridges program is to transform healthcare for the most vulnerable, particularly people experiencing homelessness, mental illness or addictions, or struggling with multiple chronic illnesses, improving health for all and the well-being of our community.

To do this we:

  • Ensure access to comprehensive and integrated healthcare.
  • Deliver high quality and effective healthcare.
  • Provide training, support research and drive systems change that enriches communities' capacity to improve health and impact the social determinants of health.
  • Engage staff, volunteers, partners and donors in building a just society where resources are used wisely and compassionately and effective services yield positive outcomes.
  • Create and advocate for innovative healthcare solutions that support the elimination of poverty, homelessness and health disparities.


Vital Bridges’ mission is to help people throughout metropolitan Chicago impacted by HIV and AIDS to improve their health and build self-sufficiency by providing food, nutrition counseling, housing, care coordination and prevention services.

Agency Overview

More than 25 years ago, volunteers mobilized across metropolitan Chicago to help friends, family members and colleagues who were battling HIV/AIDS. Their efforts and dedication to provide food, shelter, care and education about HIV grew and expanded, becoming Vital Bridges. Each year, the program serves nearly 1,800 people impacted by the epidemic. Since its founding in 1988, Vital Bridges has provided more than 12 million meals, 700,000 nights of shelter and 300,000 hours of counseling to more than 10,000 people.

Vital Bridges is a program of Heartland Health Outreach, providing high-quality basic services through four program sites located on the North, West and South sides of Chicago as well as in the suburb of Elk Grove Village.

More than 21,000 people live with HIV and AIDS in Chicago – that’s nearly 28 people per 100,000 and three-times that of the rest of Illinois. Chicago's and Illinois’ rates of HIV and AIDS prevalence are among the highest in the U.S.

The majority of people living with HIV and AIDS live at or below the poverty line, struggling to meet their daily needs while dealing with a complex, debilitating and incurable disease. Since 1981, 11,000 men, women and children in metropolitan Chicago have died from AIDS.

Vital Bridges strives to serve every man, woman and child impacted by HIV and in need of our services.