For many of our participants, 2018 was a year of unprecedented uncertainty, hardship, and fear.
Zo was just out of prison and jobless. Renee couldn’t find quality healthcare nearby for her and her grandkids. Maimot was exhausted from fleeing torture and violence in her home country. Bill was broke and in a downward spiral of addiction. Thousands of immigrants were deported, detained, and separated from their families.
This year’s Annual Report shares their incredible stories, and how Heartland Alliance confronted 2018 by leaning into our mission, speaking out boldly against destructive policies, and serving more participants than ever before.
As a human rights organization, we believe all of society benefits when every single person can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. We honor our participants by helping them feel respected, supported, and worthy of a brighter future—even when the decks seem stacked against them.
The generous support of our donors, community partners, staff, and volunteers made it possible for us to carry out this essential work during a critically important time in our participants’ lives.
On behalf of Heartland Alliance’s Board, staff, and participants, thank you for your continued partnership as we strive to achieve equity and opportunity for all.
President, Heartland Alliance
After spending time in jail, Zo found himself unemployed and struggling to cope with feelings of anger and trauma.
“My life before the program, I was in the streets. I hustled. I had no job. Clean money was too slow.”
It was at this point that he was approached about a new program called READI Chicago that is designed to reduce violence through paid transitional employment coupled with cognitive behavioral therapy.
Zo signed up and months into the program, he made meaningful progress and can imagine a new future for himself – one where he has a degree and owns his own trucking company.
“I appreciate the opportunity. I appreciate all the tools READI Chicago gave me to go further towards what I’m trying to do for myself in life.”
Increased Opportunity for Over Four Million People with a Criminal Record: In partnership with the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois, Heartland Alliance passed legislation to prohibit courts from holding unpaid fines and fees against people when they petition to seal their criminal record.
Renee is a grandmother and lifelong resident of Englewood. After years of bad experiences with local health clinics, she was looking for a doctor that offered more.
“I’ve either had to take my family an hour out of my neighborhood or deal with clinics that treat you like dirt. It’s made it difficult to just have the motivation to see a doctor.”
When Renee applied for a job that required a TB test, she decided to visit the nearby Heartland Alliance Health South Side Health Center. Not only was Renee welcomed, she also received quality, informative medical and mental health services for both herself and her grandkids.
Renee has become a vocal advocate for the health center and encourages her neighbors to visit.
“This place is more than just a health center, and that’s because Heartland recognizes you are more than just a patient.”
Health Care Preserved for One Million Illinoisans: Heartland Alliance and our partners in Protect Our Care Illinois helped lead the state efforts to save the Affordable Care Act, protect Medicaid, and fund community health centers.
As a child, Rosie’s family moved from shelter to shelter, sometimes sleeping in an old van and frequently looking for their next meal.
“My entire life I’ve had to take care of myself. I had to do everything I could just to survive and help those around me survive.”
Rosie’s path forward changed when she found NEON, a youth housing program that connected her to a case manager, an apartment, and the supportive services and therapy she needed to break the cycle of trauma and homelessness.
With newfound stability, confidence, and hope, Rosie is now able to begin planning for her future.
“I was at a broken point, and I didn’t know what was going to happen next. Heartland was my second chance. Sometimes people need that, with no questions asked.”
Opened Doors for 26,000 People Experiencing Homelessness: Heartland Alliance supported five communities in creating innovative changes to public service systems, making the path to housing, employment services, and other supports more accessible.
Bill is a home care aide worker. It’s a job he’s good at, because he understands what it is like to struggle.
Bill battled addiction and homelessness for a long time until he visited a Heartland Alliance grocery center that provided him with much more than just food.
“The staff and volunteers who helped me when I visited made me realize how badly I wanted to break out of my cycle. It was really just a few months before I started getting better.”
With Heartland’s support, Bill decided to commit himself to sobriety, found housing and began to rebuild his financial life through education. He signed up for classes to manage his finances and repair his credit rating. Today, he is debt-free and moving closer to his dream of home ownership.
“It’s so much more than learning skills or techniques and paying your bills on time. I learned that I have a chance to really grow and be successful.”
Helped 40,000 Students Increase Food Security: With the support of dedicated partners, Heartland Alliance expanded the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for economically disadvantaged community college students.
Christian served as an Army combat medic in Afghanistan and Africa, after which he found the transition back home to be more challenging than expected.
“I knew that I needed to find my own way but when I moved out of my family’s home, I didn’t find a place immediately – nor did I have the financial means. Emotionally and mentally, it was exhausting trying to start from scratch.”
Christian was living out of his car when a Veterans Affairs case manager told him about the Supportive Services for Veterans and their Families (SSVF) program. Through SSVF, Christian found housing and financial stability to build upon as he began his next chapter. Today, he works as a program employee and provides support to veterans who are experiencing the same struggles he worked so hard to overcome.
“I want to do more. I know I have more to give. Thanks to his program, I’ve never been more certain of that.”
Increased Income for Nearly 70,000 Illinoisans: In partnership with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Heartland Alliance secured an increase to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a vital resource for families living in poverty and the first increase in 10 years.
Maimot fled the Democratic Republic of Congo after experiencing violence and torture. She hoped for a better life in Chicago, but knew that achieving her goals wouldn’t be easy. Through the Marjorie Kovler Center, Maimot found the critical supports she needed to attain safety and stability.
“My first encounter there, it was so welcoming. Even though I was in bad shape, I felt respected. I felt I could breathe.”
Maimot worked closely with staff to help her address her past traumas, as well as connected with fellow asylum seekers and refugees who also are rebuilding their lives in Chicago.
Today, Maimot attends college in the hopes of becoming a nurse to help others who may feel sick and alone. “Heartland saved my life. I was dying. Heartland gave me a chance to live again.”
Over 1,500 Human Trafficking Survivors Rights Protected: Passed three bills to improve the rights of survivors of human trafficking by allowing them to seal any criminal record.
*Source: Page 4 of the Consolidated Financial Report, Consolidated Statement of Activities of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights;
**Source: Pages 8 – 9 of the Consolidated Financial Report, Consolidated Statement of Functional Expenses of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights
A special thank you to the over 800 volunteers who contributed almost 130,000 hours of service at a value of over $3.3 million to the many Heartland Alliance programs in FY18. We could not do the important work we do without your many contributions. Your efforts, energy, and dedication to participants and the organization is immeasurable.
208 South Lasalle Street, Suite 1300
Chicago, Il 60604
312.660.1300 | heartlandalliance.org