May 2021
Supporting Community-Driven Vaccination Efforts
As local leaders and public health officials have called out since the early days of the pandemic, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Black and Latinx Chicagoans, due in part to longstanding racial inequities in healthcare quality and access.
Last spring, the City brought together West Side United, community leaders, and healthcare providers to form the Racial Equity Rapid Response (RERR) Team to flatten the COVID-19 mortality curve in Chicago’s Black and Latinx communities, and to build a foundation for future racial health equity.
Civic Consulting Alliance supported the RERR Team from the beginning. Read more about our work with the RERR Team and its outcomes in our October 2020 newsletter, and about our work with its provider working group to develop the Racial Equity in Healthcare Progress Report in our February 2021 newsletter.
Developing a Structure and Framework for Collaboration
One of our key contributions to the RERR Team was the development of its collaborative structure (aligning community anchor organizations, West Side United, healthcare providers, the Mayor’s Office led by Candace Moore, Chief Equity Officer and Sybil Madison, Deputy Mayor for Education and Human Services, and the Chicago Department of Public Health) and framework (with four strategies – Education, Prevention, Testing and Treatment, and Support Services). Together, this structure and framework sought to ensure that the City’s COVID-19 interventions were community-driven and targeted to immediately mitigate harm in high-need areas.
This approach was critical when the second COVID-19 surge hit Chicago in November 2020. At that time, Civic Consulting Alliance staff helped the RERR Team launch a hyperlocal intervention, which later became part of the City’s Protect Chicago initiative, and project managed a pilot of this strategy in Belmont Cragin, one of the hardest hit community areas. Leveraging the structure, framework, and relationships we had developed with the RERR Team earlier in the year, we worked with community anchor organizations and the City to build a ‘table’ of Belmont Cragin community organizations, healthcare providers, faith leaders, City staff, and elected officials. Additionally, we:
  • Created a tracker to review outreach activities, communications efforts, resource needs, and COVID-19 rates at the Census tract level;
  • Managed weekly meetings; and
  • Ensured the group had access to hyperlocal data to determine weekly strategies and interventions.

With our support, this community table guided the City’s intervention efforts in Belmont Cragin, and ensured coordination between stakeholders working to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the neighborhood. Following these efforts, Belmont Cragin experienced a significant drop in COVID-19 case numbers and testing positivity rate – demonstrating the power of utilizing a community-led, City-resourced and supported approach. (Explore the data on the City's COVID-19 dashboard, developed with support from Civic Consulting Alliance pro bono partner Slalom.)
“When the autumn COVID-19 surge hit Belmont Cragin, we needed to intervene quickly. Civic Consulting Alliance provided a structure to help us approach the challenge, stay organized, and coordinate with
the City and other local stakeholders.”

- James Rudyk, Northwest Side Housing Center (Belmont Cragin community anchor organization)
Leveraging Learnings for Hyperlocal Vaccine Distribution
Given the success of this hyperlocal approach in Belmont Cragin, the City leveraged a similar collaborative structure and framework when developing Protect Chicago Plus, its strategy for equitable vaccine distribution. Since February, the City has launched Protect Chicago Plus pilots in four of its 15 priority community areas – Belmont Cragin, Little Village, Gage Park, and Austin – ramping up mass vaccination efforts in these communities to get them at or above the citywide vaccination rate.
Civic Consulting Alliance continued to provide advisory and project management support as the City rolled out these pilot programs. In March, we helped launch the Austin pilot, which entailed:

So far, Protect Chicago Plus and the community engagement strategies that underpin it have made a difference in achieving more racially equitable vaccination distributions. By late March, 76-87% of those vaccinated in Belmont Cragin, Little Village, Gage Park, and Austin were Black or Latinx. Moreover, in the six weeks from February 6th to March 20th, the first dose vaccination rate in those neighborhoods increased by 335%, 385%, 459%, and 203%, respectively, compared to 177% in Chicago overall.
“While our fight against COVID-19 is far from over, the City is encouraged
by the progress we’ve made in increasing vaccine uptake in Protect Chicago Plus pilot communities. This preliminary outcome is a testament to the value of taking a community-driven and equity-focused approach to address our city’s challenges. We are grateful to Civic Consulting Alliance for sharing their expertise structuring inclusive collaboratives in Chicago to support the
RERR Team and the hyperlocal COVID-19 intervention initiatives
that have followed it.”

- Sybil Madison, Deputy Mayor for Education and Human Services, City of Chicago
On May 10th, we hosted the latest event in our "Getting Big Things Done" virtual conversation series, How does inclusive economic growth build an equitable Chicago? featuring Samir Mayekar, the City’s Deputy Mayor for Economic and Neighborhood Development, and Gloria Castillo, the Chicago Community Trust’s Associate VP of We Rise Together: For an Equitable & Just Recovery.

Follow the link below to watch the recording and learn about how with Civic Consulting Alliance support the Mayor’s Office and The Chicago Community Trust are prioritizing equitable, community-centered investment across the Chicago region for an inclusive economic recovery.
Undergraduate Fellow Spotlight: Lola Knight
What project work were you involved in during your time at Civic Consulting Alliance?

LK: I supported a project with the Chicago Public Schools to help develop a decision-making framework for resource allocations in schools.

What will you take away from your time at Civic Consulting Alliance?

LK: I am taking away the importance of clear and open communication. As a team member, I was encouraged to share my ideas and ask questions when I was unsure or curious - which made me feel supported and helped our team be more productive.

What was your most memorable experience during your time at Civic Consulting Alliance?

LK: My most memorable experience was my first formal presentation to Civic Consulting Alliance staff. I was very nervous beforehand, but my nerves didn't last long, as I quickly felt very welcomed and supported. 
Lola Knight was with us as an undergraduate fellow from Northwestern University from January through March 2021.
How has your time at Civic Consulting Alliance helped you develop professionally?

LK: This fellowship exposed me to what careers in consulting and social impact can look like, which has helped me greatly as I continue to think about what I want to do after college. My fellowship also helped me improve my oral and written communication skills, which I will continue to build on in my academic career. 

In partnership with Northwestern University, we provide a semester-long Undergraduate Fellowship. We periodically work with other undergraduate institutions on shorter internship opportunities. Please visit our Fellowships page to learn more about our range of fellowship opportunities.
In Other News
  • Civic Consulting Alliance is excited to welcome our new Analyst, Luna Luna, and Development Director, Nicole Rakers, to the team!

  • We were thrilled to receive the 2021 Civic Catalyst Award as part of Leadership Greater Chicago's annual benefit - Celebrate Leaders! The Catalyst Sessions: An Evening of Stories with Impact. The award honors those whose social innovations and actions transform the quality of life of our citizens and our community.

  • Civic Consulting Alliance is proud to partner with funders, researchers, and leaders on the Mapping COVID-19 Recovery Project. The project standardizes data through a series of maps illustrating where public, private, and philanthropic sector investments are going in communities of color devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the goal of strategic reinvestment and recovery to close historic funding gaps and rebuild stronger communities. Visit the project's recently-launched website to learn more and explore the maps.
Thank you to our funders!
Civic Consulting Alliance is grateful for the critical support of all of our funders. Since our last newsletter, we were thrilled to receive philanthropic commitments from the following:
Intended Impact
General operating support to advance Civic Consulting Alliance's mission as it supports community-led responses to COVID-19
General Operating Funders
Civic Consulting Alliance is grateful to our general operating funders, whose support empowers us to maintain our flexible and responsive capacity to get big things done.
Questions? Comments? Contact Marie Akerman