The ACT Monthly Thrive emails are a way for us to provide an update on the various efforts we support. But remember you can follow us on social media for more frequent news!
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Join the Austin Coming Together (ACT) team and make a difference with your work!

We've been supporting Chicago's Austin community since 2010, empowering residents and the organizations that serve them. And our team is growing!

Whether it’s shooting mini-hoops, a game of strategy with giant Jenga, a spin of the wellness wheel or enjoying a meeting on the outdoor patio, we love to find ways to add more joy to our days.

Check out the Now Hiring tab at for the full list of positions, which include Marketing & Development Coordinator, which is full-time WITH BENEFITS!

Two groups chose ACT Executive Director Darnell Shields to be recognized during Black History Month. The Chicago Jobs Council’s Partner Spotlight on Black-led workforce development organizations highlighted how ACT is a Jobs Council partner working to support sustainable efforts to make more living-wage opportunities available to Austin residents.

Plus, AMPT decided to showcase Shields, one of their Board Members, as an example of the community’s Black Excellence. AMPT: Advancing Nonprofits supports West and South Side community organizations in building organizational health and sustainability through capacity building.
ACT’s own Marketing and Development Manager Alicia Plomin was nominated for recognition as one of 30 West Side Women of Wisdom & Inspiration due to her inspiring work on behalf of those in need. 

“Plomin has shown a love for Austin and a commitment to her profession that is very commendable. Her dedication, passion, and longevity is inspiring to many.” 

DW Provision Consulting hosts an annual recognition event with a different theme each year. This year’s theme is "Soaring to New Heights, in Turbulent Times" and describes how the honored women, despite a pandemic, have stayed the course and continue to be a beacon of hope and inspiration for the next generation. 

The honorees include administrators, media personalities, public relations professionals, program directors, executive assistants, faith leaders, and community advocates, and will be honored at a recognition dinner on April 23rd.
ACT’s Engagement Specialist, Dollie Sherman, has been with the team for almost ten years and is also the president of her block club in Austin. Sherman and ACT were chosen by LISC Chicago as one of their partners to feature during Women’s History Month.

Sherman told LISC this work has allowed her “the opportunity to help navigate and bring others too, opening the doors through housing and employment, and assisting people in getting housing with evictions on their records, which is very hard to do. LISC Chicago has invested in the work needed to support the legacy of their communities. The future will be set for my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It is a building block to creating our utopia."

Sherman was also included among the Austin Activists that were part of a Photo Story Exhibit at the Austin Library. She participated in a panel discussion on bridging the gap between Austin and neighboring communities like Oak Park. Read more about it in this AustinTalks article.

The Austin Community Hub recently hosted a Hub 101 virtual info session with BUILD about their youth programs. Missed it? Watch any of the recorded Hub 101 sessions on ACT’s YouTube here

The next Hub 101 session will be “Enriching Lives Through Education” with City College’s West Side Learning Center on Tuesday, April 19th from 12:30pm-1:45pm on ACT's Facebook page.

City Colleges of Chicago - About City CollegesAttend to learn about the programs they offer, how to apply, financial and institutional resources that are available, and more. Opportunities include Adult Education (GED & ESL); Basic Nursing Assistant; Community Health Worker, Medical Assisting; Patient Care Technical; Early Childhood; Basic Computer Skills-Community and Continuing Education.

These events are designed to increase awareness of the valuable resources available through ACT’s member network.

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If you're an Austin resident looking for resources, please contact our Austin Community Hub Coordinator, Janelle Martin, at or text your Full Name to (708) 529-5042.
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Three Austin residents who came to the Austin Community Hub for assistance were connected with the BMORE program, have since successfully graduated, and are now working for BMO Harris Bank as Customer Experience Representatives!

BMORE is a partnership where Cara Collective provides workforce development and job training to unemployed or underemployed individuals interested in joining the BMO team. View this flyer to learn more. 

Cara provides training and certification courses covering foundational job skills, digital and financial literacy, and industry certifications like OSHA, food service, and commercial cleaning. Watch this recording of a virtual info session with Cara to get more details on these services.

ACT, BUILD and Westside Health Authority are working with other community partners to host a job fair for Austin youth on Thursday, April 21 from 1-6pm at La Follette Park in Austin. Organizations from across Austin will come together to provide employment opportunities and resume-building for youth. Plus, youth will have the chance to learn about One Summer Chicago, internships, and more.

Volunteers are needed to assist young people with building resumes and to provide coaching to prepare them to apply for jobs. If you’re interested in lending a hand, please contact Dollie Sherman, ACT’s Engagement Specialist, at or (765) 600.2698.

‘Austin Forward. Together.’  (AFT) is Austin's first ever quality-of-life plan. It outlines a set of goals created by and for the community designed to address 23 strategies that consist of 84 total actions across seven Issue Areas between the years 2019 and 2024. Those Issue Areas include: Community Narrative, Education, Housing, Youth Empowerment, Economic Development, Public Safety, and Civic Engagement.

Austin Coming Together (ACT) serves as the steward of the plan to empower a network of volunteers and partners who work collaboratively to bring Austin's vision to life.

Below are some updates on recent progress.

Visit to learn more about the Austin Forward. Together. (AFT) quality-of-life plan, or if you are interested in volunteering as a member of an AFT Task Force to help carry out the plan, contact ACT’s Lead Organizer Ethan Ramsay at

The community is tackling barriers to equity to create a healthy, prosperous future. By empowering residents to lead the change they want to see, we can start addressing disparities.

Click here to read more in our latest section published in the 3/30/22 issues of the Austin Weekly News and Wednesday Journal newspapers.

Austin Eats members participated in a panel to highlight the food justice efforts taking place in Austin.

Our community's own Austin Eats Initiative is about addressing food from a holistic perspective in order to experience better overall physical, mental, and economic health in Austin, and was featured as part of the 17th Annual Chicago Food Justice Summit in February.

Dearra Williams (Austin resident and Co-Chair of the AFT Community Narrative Task Force), Cindy Gray-Schneider (Community Narrative Strategy Lead), and Andraya Yousfi (with By The Hand Club For Kids and the youth-run Austin Harvest market) told the story of Austin Eats and how the coalition, consisting of a robust group of over 20 stakeholders, started meeting during the height of the pandemic to craft a multi-year strategy to strengthen Austin’s food access ecosystem. For example, the Austin Garden Collective activates spaces for healthy activities and community building to create more prospering gardens across the neighborhood that increase accessibility to freshly grown foods. 

Watch the recorded session here, read this AustinTalks article, or visit for more details on Austin Eats' commitment to building the capacity of their partner community gardens, grocery stores, farmers markets, emergency food support, and culinary entrepreneurs.

The Tides Foundation has awarded ACT a $10,000 Life Comes From It grant to support Restorative Justice (RJ) efforts in Austin. The funds will help ACT to continue working with the AFT Public Safety Task Force to plan and support activities and projects that increase understanding and practice of RJ in Austin. We plan to train more youth through the ACT/Taproots partnership this year and are excited for these youth leaders not only to hold circles but also develop an Introduction to RJ training curriculum that speaks to Austin youths’ lived experiences and lead these trainings for their peers. 

Restorative Justice is a philosophy that responds to crime and conflict within communities by building trust through peace-making circles designed to repair harm and heal broken relationships.

According to a 3BL Media article published February 18, 2022, “the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth recently partnered with New America on a philanthropic data analytics initiative to assess whether strategic investments can help catalyze significant economic growth in disinvested neighborhoods.” They focused on data around the development of the Kehrein Center for the Arts in Austin, a dormant building that was transformed in 2019 into a state-of-the-art auditorium through $5 million of grants and donations.

The effort found that just one investment in a redevelopment project can have “a domino effect across the entire commercial corridor where it is located.” Consumer spending increased by residents as well as out-of-town visitors as they saw the neighborhood as a destination, and new businesses were opened. Read more here.

Are you registered to vote? Need to update your address? Elections are coming up! Click here to register, look to see if you're registered, or update your information with the state. Or, come out to the Soul City Community Market or to Veterans Peace Garden on Saturday, April 2nd to get help.

As part of the AFT plan’s goals to increase civic engagement in Austin and help residents get their voices heard, several local groups are collaborating on a Voter Registration Drive.

Meet 37th Ward Alderman Emma Mitts, City officials, housing service providers, and mortgage lenders who are working together to improve homeownership rates among Black and brown residents of Chicago’s West Side at this upcoming event on Saturday, April 30th.

The Oak Park Regional Housing Center, in partnership with Alderman Mitts and housing service providers from across the Greater West Side, are teaming up to support first-time homebuyers, educate renters on their tenant rights, strategize on creating more housing options for low-income families, and improve Austin’s housing stock in honor of the working families who live here and new residents seeking to join this vibrant community. Get details and RSVP here.

Austin has secured $1.5 million in funding to upgrade Columbus Park. Share your ideas by completing this survey!

Galewood Neighbors has created a community survey to get your feedback and make sure that the community's voice is heard in the process. They plan to present the survey results to the Mars representatives and our local government officials. There is strength in numbers and now is the time to make your voice heard! Click here to take the survey and make a positive impact!

For questions, please contact Paper versions of the survey are available upon request. 
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ACT is truly grateful for another year serving the Austin community, and for each and every person and partner who has supported us along the way.

We continue to connect residents to resources and help sustain those resources by focusing on capacity building, community investment, relentless community engagement, and advocacy for policy change.
Show how much you care! Donate to help Austin families.
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United Way of Metro Chicago’s Neighborhood Network Initiative helps generate collective impact and invest in communities that are working to help their residents all fulfill their human potential and increase their quality of life. As the lead agency for the Neighborhood Network in Austin, ACT is better able to support the social services that are essential to our residents. For more information:

Since 2010, ACT has helped our network take a strategic and collaborative approach to improve education and economic development outcomes in Austin.  What links ACT to its member organizations are our five core values: Unity, Commitment, Transparency, Collaboration, and Action. These core values are the foundation for our decision-making process, current culture, and all ACT aspires to be.

To learn more about becoming part of the ACT Member Network, click here.
ACT Members
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