U.N.I.O.N. Impact Center is committed to manifesting Christ’s love in our everyday work. Guided by the Holy Spirit, we aim to improve the social, economic, and environmental conditions on the Southwest side of Chicago in an effort to create health equity for our children, youth and families.
Back of the Yards will be a safe, healthy community with opportunities for youth and their families to be happy and successful, achieve their full capacities, and contribute to the well-being of the community. Family members, particularly parents and caretakers, will be empowered to participate in the education and support of their own children, as well as in their own personal development. Youth will care about their communities, be active in their own educational journeys, and use the abundant resources around them to discover their passions and pursue their dreams. Community members will be united and will have the resources needed to support the community as it develops.
U.N.I.O.N. Impact Center works to change the perception of the Back of the Yards neighborhood by highlighting its strengths and resources. It supports the transformation of the neighborhood towards the organization’s vision of the future by providing opportunities for neighborhood youth and their families to learn, connect with each other, be supported by others, share their skills and talents, and develop their abilities. By strengthening youth and families, U.N.I.O.N. Impact Center strengthens the community. The process is cyclical, as a strong community, in turn, strengthens youth and families.
U.N.I.O.N. Impact Center focuses on community safety, leadership development, and personal enrichment. It accomplishes its mission and priorities through four programs: 1) the Youth Soccer League, 2) the Arts Program, 3) the Social Justice Leadership Institute, and 4) the Parent Leadership Collaborative. U.N.I.O.N.’s program model is multi-generational. Youth are served, but also serve as youth leaders. College students and parents provide mentorship, training, and other support to youth, while also receiving mentoring, training, and support from other community leaders. Leadership development is embedded into all of the programs.
Youth Soccer League:
· Engages approximately 300 youth each year as players, referees and coaches.
· Helps youth develop their self-esteem, achieve their full capacity, discover their passions and pursue their dreams.
· Provides a safe place that keeps youth active and teaches teamwork and sportsmanship.
· Contributes to community health, safety, well-being, and unity by engaging community members, serving as a resource to families, and fostering peace and health through physical activity.
· Engages youth in the visual and performing arts.
· Empowers individuals to discover their passions, pursue their dreams, and achieve their full capacities by giving an outlet for their artist expression and talent.
· Builds on communityassets and strengthens community unity and pride by bringing people together to create and enjoy art that promotes positive images of the community and represents the diverse perspectives and talents of community members.
Social Justice Leadership Institute:
· Empowers youth to be active in their own educational journeys and discover and pursue their passions and dreams by providing them with training, mentors, access to community resources, information about personal development, and opportunities to apply their skills in real life situations.
· Develops community leadership by engaging youth in community actions and events, providing some autonomy for student-led and student-driven projects, and providing information and leadership development to parents. Youth also participate on the U.N.I.O.N. Impact Center board.
Parent Leadership Collaborative:
· Creates opportunities for community members, particularly parents, to learn, develop themselves, contribute to their communities, and more effectively support their children.
· Led by the work of the Peace and Safety Committee, which organizes wellness activities for adult residents and promotes a safe and peaceful community through proactive strategies.