Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Chicago Leads Largest Effort in Midwest to Strengthen Community’s Social Service Programs

Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Chicago Leads Largest Effort in Midwest to Strengthen Community’s Social Service Programs

CHICAGO-Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Chicago (Advancing Justice—Chicago) has been awarded $190,910, the largest grant awarded by the Corporation for National & Community Service in the Midwest to help fund 15 full time Americorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) positions. This effort represents a singular commitment to building the resources and capacity of organizations in Chicago that empower the Asian American community, including: English language classes, citizenship services, youth leadership programs and workforce development. As Asian Pacific American Heritage Month comes to a close this grant indicates the growing attention to the Asian American community, one of the fastest growing in Illinois.

“Bringing on 15 young people into key community organizations signals a real commitment to the work that we’re doing, and to improving the lives of our community members,” said Kathleen Fernicola, director of policy and programs at Advancing Justice—Chicago.

The VISTA project also comes at a time in which Asian Americans are in greater need of social services. Between 2000 and 2010, U.S. Census data shows a 40% increase in the number of Asian Americans living in poverty in Chicago, a growth rate higher than all other groups. The VISTA project is focused on combating poverty by increasing the effectiveness and cohesiveness of organizations serving the community.

Key program areas the VISTA members will work on include: resource development, volunteer recruitment, and community outreach. Sima Quraishi, executive director of Muslim Women Resource Center, identified an important strength of the program: “Many of us have been working on these issues for years within our individual organizations, but the opportunity to collaborate more strongly through the VISTA network adds a real sense that we’re building an even bigger and stronger community.” Esther Wong, executive director of the Chinese American Service League, noted “The Asian and Asian American community in Chicago is building a common agenda. Irrespective of whether it’s Albany Park, Devon, Uptown or Chinatown we, as immigrant communities, have a lot of issues we can unite around, and are excited to launch this effort with the VISTA program.”

Applicants who are interested in serving at one of the organizations participating in the grant can apply through Americorps VISTA at:

The deadline is May 30. VISTA, Volunteers in Service to America, is a national service program founded in 1965 to fight poverty in America.

Organizations participating in this program include: Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Chicago (host organization), Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment, Cambodian Association of Illinois, Chinese American Service League, Chinese Mutual Aid Association, Japanese American Service Committee of Chicago, Korean American Community Services, Korean American Resource and Cultural Center, Lao American Organization of Elgin, and the Muslim Women Resource Center.

Click below to apply for the VISTA positions within our PAVE coalition. Make sure to choose the postings with the project name Asian American Community Empowerment Project. Each listing states the organization site and the specific position.