Immigrant Leaders Salute President & Gear Up For Hard Work Ahead

U.S. — The members of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC) have worked tirelessly, in collaboration with many others, to press for a halt to the deportations and detentions that rip apart immigrant families. We called upon the President to take action, to see the faces of immigrant children and families and break through the partisan bickering. Today, he listened. His action could provide relief to millions of families, families who will no longer have to live in daily fear of deportation.

“This important step forward could never have happened without the incredible grassroots effort on the part of students, parents, people of faith, professionals, and activists who have come together and showed the nation the terrible human cost of our broken immigration policy,” said Claudia Lucero, President of NALACC.

“Although many families will benefit, many more will not,” added Lucero. “We are particularly disappointed at the exclusion of parents of young immigrants who benefited earlier from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. We had hoped the President would be responsive to the need for family unification in those cases,” added Lucero. “Our members are ready to start tomorrow, bringing together information and services with community organizing to enable those who may benefit from the relief measures, as well as those who may not, to struggle together for the changes in U.S. immigration law that immigrant communities deserve, and the nation needs,” she concluded.

“We know that the road ahead is a long one, but as an immigrant-led network, we will walk that road with our communities,” said Oscar Chacón, NALACC’s Executive Director.  “We will identify short, medium, and long-term steps toward migration policies that integrate immigrants as partners, rather than treating them like criminals. We will push back on misguided militarization of our southern border in the name of security. As a transnational organization, we will continue to press for policies that address the root causes of migration, and protect human rights along the full migration pathway,” added Chacón.


NALACC is a network of community-based; Latino and Caribbean immigrant-led organizations in the US that seeks to raise the quality of life for immigrant communities in the United States, as well as communities in migrant-sending countries in Latin America. Over the years, NALACC has built close working relationships with key civil society organizations throughout Latin America.  For more information go to website

UIC Great Cities Institute Presents City on the Make: Race & Inequality in America

Chicago mayoral candidate and Cook County Commissioner Jesús “Chuy” Garcia will join a panel discussion on race and inequality in Chicago with political consultant Don Rose, Pauline Lipman, UIC professor of educational policy, and Victor B. Dickson, president and CEO of the Safer Foundation.

The panel will follow a talk by Andrew Diamond, professor of history and civilization at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, on his new book, “City on the Make: Race and Inequality in Chicago.” Diamond is well known in France for his work on U.S. urban issues. He is the author of “Mean Streets: Chicago Youths and the Everyday Struggle for Empowerment in the Multiracial City, 1908-1969,” and is currently finishing a book about violence and disenfranchisement among black and Latino youth in contemporary Chicago.

City on the Make: Race & Inequality in America features:
Professor Andrew Diamond, American History and Civilization, University of Paris, Sorbonne
Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia
Don Rose, Political Consultant & Commentator
Professor Pauline Lipman, Director, Collective for Equity and Justice in Education and author of “The New Political Economy of Urban Education: Neoliberalism, Race and the Right to the City”
Victor B. Dickson, President & CEO, Safer Foundation
Teresa Córdova, Director of the Great Cities Institute — Program Moderator

9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Thursday, November 13, 2014

UIC Student Center East, Illinois Room AB
750 S. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60607

This program is part of the Poverty to Prosperity Lecture Series sponsored by UIC’s Great Cities Institute and the UIC Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy.

As part of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, the Great Cities Institute is a research hub, incubator and convener, whose mission is to sponsor research, service, and educational programs aimed at improving the quality of life of people living in Chicago, its metropolitan region and other great cities of the world.


Youth Justice Agency CEO Paula Jack & Hon. Toni Preckwinkle Explore Int’l Lessons To Stop Growing Prison Pipeline 


As the U.S. prison system continues to be vastly over-represented by youth of color and costs of incarceration continue to skyrocket, The Woods Fund Chicago launches its Right On Justice Initiative with an international symposium featuring Paula Jack, Northern Ireland’s CEO of its Youth Justice Agency, Department of Justice.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle 
and other regional leaders will examine “lessons learned” from Northern Ireland, a formerly war-torn nation that has fundamentally embraced the underlying concept of restorative justice as a way to deliver justice. The half-day symposium will explore the impact of Restorative Justice in Northern Ireland and its potential implications for the Chicago region’s juvenile justice and educational systems to stop the school-to-prison pipeline and reduce juvenile incarceration.

Restorative Justice is an international movement with growing national and local initiatives that offers an alternative to punitive justice systems and engages the victims of crimes in seeking ways to reduce harm that leads to reduced incarceration and increased school engagement.


Symposium speakers include:  

  • Emmanuel Andre, Northwestern Children and Family Justice Center
  • Jenny Arwade, Executive Director, Albany Park Neighborhood Council
  • The Honorable Justice Anne Burke
  • Grace Hou, President, The Woods Fund of Chicago
  • The Honorable Sophia Hall, Judge, Circuit Court
  • Paula Jack, CEO, Youth Justice Agency, Department of Justice, Northern Ireland
  • Candice Jones, Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice                
  • Elena Quintana, Executive Director, Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice, Adler School of Professional Psychology
  • The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle, President Cook County Board of Commissioners
  • Richard Steele, Talk Show Host, WBEZ Radio (moderator)
  • Ethan Viets-Van Lear, Circles and Ciphers
  • Laura Washington, Chicago Sun-Times Columnist & ABC-TV News Political Commentator (moderator)


8:30 A.M. – 1:30 P.M.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


The University Club of Chicago

76 E. Monroe, ChicagoIllinois


Illinois suspends proportionally more African-American students than any other state in the country, including 42% of all African-American students with disabilities.  In Chicago, African American students are five times more likely to get an out of school suspension than white students.  Although whites make up more than 50% of the Cook County population, 97% of youth detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (CCJTDC) are youth of color (86% are African American).

In 2012, African American youth were arrested at a much higher rate than white youth. Of the 46,800 juvenile arrests across Illinois, 59% of arrests involved African American youth, and 40% involved white youth.  African American youth were over represented at the point of arrests at a level triple their representation in the general Illinois youth population while white youth were under-represented and arrested at a level about 45 percent less than their representation.


Right On Justice is a two-year initiative funded by the Woods Fund Chicago and led by Chicago’s Albany Park Neighborhood Council (APNC) and the Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice at the Adler School of Professional Psychology (IPSSJ).

The initiative will develop a regional coalition to: advocate for policies and support resources that identify and dismantle punitive policies at the school and community level; advance restorative justice alternatives to school push out and criminalization of communities of color; reform the Cook County justice system; and, build capacity for restorative justice solutions. For more information please go to



Nat’l Delegations Call On US and Central American Governments To Protect Children and Stop Human Rights Violations


Three Fact-Finding Delegations of Immigrant-Rights leaders – from Washington D.C., New York, Boston, Miami, Chicago, Houston, Oakland and San Francisco – will report at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. preliminary findings of patterns of ongoing violence targeting children in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

Delegation members encountered busloads of children and families forcibly returned to the region, after being detained in Mexico on the way to the U.S. Little information is available on the children and whether they qualified for international humanitarian protections.

Organized by the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC), delegation members and other allies will call on President Obama to act with compassion to save the lives of children and families seeking refuge in the United States. They will also call on the governments of the region to address development and governance failures at the root of the current exodus, and avoid additional violence through more militarization and weapons into the region.

Press Conference speakers include national Delegation members to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador with immigrant families:

  • Oscar Chacón, Executive Director, NALACC
  • Linda Hartke, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • Jose Guadalupe Ruelas, Casa Alianza, Honduras
  • Lariza Dugan-Cuadra, Central American Resource Center, San Francisco
  • Abel Nuñez, CARECEN-DC
  • Boston Family from Honduras who will share a personal story
  • Rev. Sarabeth Goodwin, Latino Missioner, St. Stephen and the Incarnation, Washington DC


Press Conference: 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Tuesday, September 16, 2014


National Press Club
529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC


The nation was shocked this summer, as tens of thousands of children arrived in the United States seeking refuge from violence and insecurity in Central America. The President stated his intent to swiftly deport children and families appealing for humanitarian relief that led to immediate deportation of many and others being apprehended and swiftly returned from Mexico, with little review.

The recent deaths of five Honduran children illustrate how ill-equipped governments in the region are to re-integrate returning migrants, especially those with trauma to the same violent circumstances they fled in the first place and the problems at the root of the exodus remain intransigent.

NALACC is a network of community-based; Latino and Caribbean immigrant-led organizations in the US that seeks to raise the quality of life for immigrant communities in the United States, as well as communities in migrant-sending countries in Latin America. Over the years, NALACC has built close working relationships with key civil society organizations throughout Latin America.For more information go to and Facebook “nalacc2004”


WorldChicago, a non-profit organization that provides the local community with a unique opportunities to build business relationships and lasting friendships with visitors from around the world, selected Thinkinc. to host and lead a business planning workshop for a group of 30 African Women Entrepreneurs. This delegation was invited to Chicago through the International Visitor Leadership Program of the U.S. Department of State. Alumni of this highly-selective program include 35 current and 300 former Chiefs of State or Heads of Government. As such, meetings with IVLP participants are concrete opportunities to participate directly in international diplomacy and impact the global dialogue on a variety of pressing issues.

This particular program of African Women Entrepreneurs focused on economic empowerment as a means of social change. The women worked across three sectors: Agriculture, Home Decor and Fashion/Textiles, and Thinkinc.’s workshop was designed to assist the participants in future business planning, identifying opportunities and challenges, and mapping out next steps for marketing and growing their businesses.

The workshop began with a panel discussion in which Laurie R. Glenn, President & CEO of ThinkInc., engaged three Chicago entrepreneurs, David Marienthal, Grace Rink and Laurie Roberts in a conversation focusing on their individual experiences growing their businesses. After the panel discussion, participants broke into four small working groups to work on their own business plans. Finally, the group reconvened to report out results and next steps for their businesses.

Chicago was the final city of their 3-week stay in the US, and this workshop was held on the morning of  Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at the Sofitel Hotel Chicago.


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Green Buddha Life Sustainability Center Only Dedicated Environmental Justice Center For Chicago Focused On Environmental Health & Justice In At-Risk Suburban Communities



As World Environment Day heightens awareness around the globe for environmental issues, the opening of the Green Buddha Life Sustainability Center, Bookstore & Eco-Arts Gallery (The Center) in Aurora, the second largest city in Illinois, reveals the environmental inequities afflicting Chicago’s western suburbs and compromising economic sustainability.

The region’s first dedicated sustainability center breaks from a conservation focus to one of environmental health and justice for all suburban residents, particularly low-income, minority communities. It will have a strong focus on Latinos and African Americans struggling with sustainability issues and the impact of exposure to decades of toxic dumping. Reflecting the interdisciplinary approach of its founder, scholar-activist Dr. Sylvia Hood Washington, The Center will spur environmental justice and promote environmental health on multiple levels by serving as a:

·       Sustainability Center: Meeting and training space for local, regional and national environmental sustainability groups;

·       Green Buddha Life Books: Green business to expand recycling “loved books” while creating safe, green jobs through an online bookstore; and,

·       Eco-Arts Gallery: Community space featuring an eco-arts gallery providing education and awareness on how to minimize landfill waste through book recycling.

The Center will host a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house featuring speakers, sustainability workshops in the Eco-Arts Gallery at the Center, and eco/sustainability film screenings and discussions.


Open House Speakers Include:  

·       U.S. Representative Bill Foster, Illinois 11th Congressional District

·       City of Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner (Invited)

·       City of Aurora Alderman Michael Saville, 6th Ward

·       Kimberly Wasserman, chair of the Illinois Environmental Justice Commission

·       Naomi Davis, founder & director of the minority-oriented environmental justice organization Blacks in Green

Sustainability Speakers Include:

·       Fran Caffee, past president of the Fox Valley Sierra Club and founder of Sierra Club Water Sentinels

·       Mavis Bates, president of the Fox Valley Sierra Club and founder & director of Greenfest in Aurora

·       Rev. Dr. Terrance Gallagher, a chief organizer of the Illinois Fox Valley chapter of the national Citizens Climate Lobby

·       Mary Shesgreen, chairperson of the Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice coalition

·       Charlie Zine, newly appointed chair of the Aurora mayor’s sustainability commission

Eco-Arts Gallery Presentations Include:

·       “Ordering Chaos,” New Art From Old Print Workshop: presented by Elisabeth Dzuricsko, an instructor and gallery director at Marmion Academy in Aurora

·       How To Create Sustainable “Passive Homes” From Abandoned Properties: presented by John Laesch

·       “Monkey Mind” Functional & Fine Art from Recycled Waste, James Jenkins, Sculptor


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Open House 11:00 am – 7:00 pm


Green Buddha Life Sustainability Center, Bookstore & Eco-Arts Gallery

205 W. Galena Blvd., Aurora, IL


While the city of Chicago has multiple environmental groups and facilities, as well as research universities with scholars who focus on environmental health, Chicago’s western suburbs have lacked such infrastructure despite having a higher number of Superfund cleanup sites than the city itself. Like other environmental justice communities across the globe, suburban low-income, minority and chronically unemployed people also are living in the more comprised areas of these communities that have an even higher risk of toxic environments. The creation of the Center “walks the talk” of sustainability, recycling and re-use by creating safe, green jobs that promote rather than jeopardize health, while stopping the buildup of landfills and supporting the local economy.

Green Buddha Life Sustainability Center, Bookstore and the Eco-Arts Gallery are the vision and brainchild of longtime environmental scientist, consultant, scholar and activist Dr. Sylvia Hood Washington. Located in downtown west suburban Aurora, Ill., the mission of Green Buddha Life is to spur environmental justice and promote environmental health. For more information please visit or on Facebook at



Service Resurrects Hope For Restoring Peace & Stopping Violence

CHICAGO – In light of the 36 shootings that made last weekend the bloodiest weekend of 2014, South Chicago ministers led an anti-violence Easter procession followed by an ecumenical service today on Holy Saturday.  In reverence to the celebration of the Resurrection, the march and service called on South Chicago neighbors to renew the hope for peace and a stop to the violence destabilizing and threatening the safety of communities.

“As spring has approached, communities that have been diligently working to stop violence have been shocked by the number of shooting incidents over the past several weeks.  Given the continued and escalating incidents of violence, Chicago communities need a renewed sense of hope and the Ecumenical Service provides an opportunity to unite around the theme of The Resurrection of Peace, Power and Purpose,” said Apostle Steve Jones, pastor of Praise Tabernacle Deliverance Center and founding member of the South Chicago Peoples and Pastors Association.

The service is the 15th Annual Ecumenical Service in South Chicago and presented by South Chicago Peoples and Pastors Association and Claretian Associates in partnership with Ceasefire Illinois, The City of Chicago and The Airree Project.

CeaseFire South Shore/South Chicago and local ministers led the reverent anti-violence procession to South Chicago Peoples’ Park where participants assembled to continue the service.  Ecumenical Service ministry participants included New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pilgrim Baptist Church, Power Circle Center and Praise Tabernacle Deliverance Center.

In addition to community members and leaders, faith-based leaders, and representatives of South Side community and advocacy organizations, the service was attended by City of Chicago Alderman John Pope, 10th Ward, and Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore.


Despite the first quarter postings of the lowest homicide totals since 1958, the number of shootings in Chicago has been steadily rising for the last four weeks.  By Sunday, April 13, 2014 that number had peaked at a record 36 shooting incidents in less than 36 hours.

With public sector resources engulfed by responding to the violence plaguing Chicago communities, and particularly the troubled South Side areas, faith-based leaders are not only underscoring the need to support the indispensable efforts taking place, but also the need to engage and draw on the resources of all neighborhood citizens to overcome the challenges that threaten the safety and vitality of communities.

“In order to change what is going on in our communities it is going to takes the direct involvement and investment of all of us – each and every one.  The South Side faith-based leaders have come together to lead the way, to assemble and guide our neighborhoods in this crusade to stop the violence,” said Apostle Jones.


As the Ecumenical Service came to a close, a memorial was made in reverence to those who have fallen to violence, providing a somber reminder of the impact on both individual lives and the stability of communities.

A heartfelt memorial was made at this year’s service to Bearling Robinson Jr. who had worked with the CeaseFire South Shore/South Chicago team and was killed just a few months following last year’s Ecumenical Service in which he was a guest speaker.  Robinson was shot and killed while attempting to mediate an argument.

“Bearling was a young man who was killed trying to do exactly what he was being taught… trying to stop the violence,” said Clarence Ray, CeaseFire worker.

For more information about Claretian Associates and its community development programs please visit


Thinkinc.’s newest client acquisition, the Chicago Tribune, has retained our firm to  assist with its Chicago Forward Series on  A New Plan of Chicago, an editorial board initiative to elevate the voice of the community in conversations about Chicago’s plan for the future.  

The next program coming up on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 is on Jobs for the Future featuring Steve Koch, Deputy Mayor City of Chicago; Paula Wolff, Chair of the Board of City Colleges and Jorge Ramirez, President, Chicago Federation of Labor.  It promises to be a provocative program engaging strong audience participation with policy makers, community, business and civic leaders in building this important dialogue.

Space is limited and advance registration is required. For discounted tickets enter promotional code “THINK” at checkout on


Following the release of  a new report on teen unemployment prepared by Alternative Schools Network, the Chicago Defender published the following column by Chicago Urban League President and CEO, Andrea L. Zopp: