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Message to Our Community on the Coronavirus

Important Update 6/18/20 03:00 pm 

Due to the ongoing, and quickly evolving challenges our city, state and the nation are facing due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we are doing our part to encourage curving exposure. In accordance with the federal, state and city orders, NLEN will extend our modified schedule through June 30, 2020. Because we care about the safety and wellbeing of our staff, our clients and the community, we are suspending in-person orientations, intake and CEDA utility assistance application processing until further notice. Remote utility assistance by phone, Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm.
Orientations are held every Monday and every first Friday of the month at 10 am by calling 773-584-4588 and entering code 4573 (Click here to view orientation flyer)
Intake will take place on Thursdays through a conference call. Our intake coordinator, Zhane Davenport, will directly contact all those who are interested in enrolling in job readiness training. Our READI and U-Turn Permitted programs will continue through virtual meetings and e-learning tools and we are exploring other virtual options and we will make those announcements known should they become available.

The North Lawndale Employment Network, like you, sees that the entire world is on alert and challenged by a health issue that has already affected the lives of thousands. We stand with and have compassion for all of those who have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

As an organization deeply invested in the health and wellbeing of our staff, clients, partners, and stakeholders, we understand it is our responsibility to remain up-to-date and vigilant on the latest scientific information about the spread of coronavirus and to take all precautions necessary for the safety of all who come in contact with our organization.



















The above graphic depicts the staggering number of unemployment claims in the week of March 21, 2020 as the nation has been grappling with the ongoing COVID19 pandemic. This alarming reality underscores the critical need for our services as residents of the city, state and country continue to lose jobs.


We understand that we serve some of the most vulnerable populations in Chicago including those suffering from poverty and those with restricted or limited access to healthcare, transportation, childcare or even support from others. To that end, we have devised the following measures for all North Lawndale Employment Network and Sweet Beginnings LLC programming in efforts to prevent the spread of the virus to some of Chicago’s most vulnerable populations.

Workforce Programs

All workforce programs including U-Turn Permitted, the Financial Opportunity Center, Job Club and Moving Forward will be facilitated through a virtual learning platform over the next two weeks effective Monday, March 16th. Fast Lane Automotive Training is suspended until at least April 30th. Upon the conclusion of this two-week period, the NLEN administrative staff will revisit the need for an extension or modification of this action plan based on the latest reports regarding the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

NLEN is prepared to provide phone card subsidies not to exceed $50.00 for current program participants who use their phones or personal mobile devices to access job readiness training via the online learning platform. Current participants will also receive two weeks of Ventra cards to assist with transportation needs during job searching or training in our customized skills training program.

For questions about U-Turn Permitted, contact Jose Wilson at 773-638-8738 or

For questions about the Financial Opportunity Center, contact Tanesha House at 773-638-1813 or


Participants of READI will continue to receive high-quality Cogitative Behavioral Therapy and Professional Development through an e-learning method that will allow 90 minutes of face to face interaction with their READI Coach and Crew Chiefs. In addition, Coaches and Crew Chiefs will be available by phone to assist participants with support during their time away from READI.  Participants who use their cell phones during this time are eligible for $50 to pay for their cell phone bills to supplement their data usage. 

For questions about the READI program, contact Coretta Rivers at 773-584-4020 or

Sweet Beginnings LLC

Production at our social enterprise will be limited to two days a week to ensure customers receive prompt online orders during this two-week period. The other three days of the week will be focused on virtual training in non-production based areas of retail such as customer service and marketing.

Supportive Services

The Resource room will be suspended for a period of two weeks effective Monday, March 16th with an option to extend this suspension based on the latest reports on the spread of the virus. Sign-up for Divvy For All will be available via email only to:


In-person CEDA utility assistance application processing has been suspended until at least June 30th. Inquire by phone at 773-265-7940, Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 2 pm.

It is important for us to come together as a community in these critical times. We all need to do our part to help reduce the spread of incorrect information and harmful rumors that place our community at risk. The coronavirus and the illnesses associated with it such as COVID-19 do not target people based on race or ethnic background. Specifically, being of Asian descent does not increase susceptibility to the virus or increase the chance of spreading it to others. Fight stigma and fear by supporting people who may be coming back to school or work after traveling internationally or completing a quarantine or isolation period for COVID-19. Let us work together to remain safe and healthy. For the most trusted, up-to-date information, we recommend visiting the specific coronavirus websites of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) or the WHO (World Health Organization).

Thank you for your continued support and for being a member of our NLEN community. We are more than ever committed to building, believing and beginning in a community that works – together.


Brenda Palms Barber

President and CEO, NLEN and CEO, Sweet Beginnings, LLC

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External Resources
Healthcare Support

Here is a list of local-area hospitals that provide healthcare services to those with and without insurance. Please note that if you have a medical emergency, dial 911.

Mt. Sinai Hospital

1500 S. Fairfield Ave.

Chicago, IL 60608


John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County

1969 W. Ogden Ave.

Chicago, IL 60612



Saint Anthony Hospital

2875 W. 19th St.

Chicago, IL 60623



Loretto Hospital

645 S. Central Ave.

Chicago, IL 60644



Temporary Housing

For those who are housing insecure or in need of shelter, please see the following list of resources. Please note that NLEN has no control over or any ability to determine how these services are distributed.


A Safe Haven

2750 Roosevelt Road

Chicago, IL 60608



Deborah’s Place

2822 W. Jackson Blvd.

Chicago, IL 60612



The Boulevard

3465 W. Franklin Blvd.

Chicago, IL 60624


The Primo Center for Women and Children

1609 and 1615 S. Homan Ave.

Chicago, IL 60624



Food Banks and Pantries

For those in need of or have limited access to food resources, please see the list below. Please note that NLEN has no control over or any ability to determine how these services are distributed.

Breakthrough Fresh Market

3334 W. Carroll Ave.

Chicago, IL 60624



Casa Catalina Food Pantry

4537 S. Ashland Ave.

Chicago, IL 60609



Manna Food Pantry

1230 S. Millard Ave.

Chicago, IL 60623


Marillac House Food Pantry

2859 W. Jackson Blvd.

Chicago, IL 60612


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