African American Christian Foundation Providing Assistance to Chicago Youth Affected by COVID-19
AACF Executive Director Evelyn Antwi-Mensah noted that the organization has existed since 1985, and its mission has evolved to serve the needs of the young people of Chicago and it's neighboring communities. AACF provides job training and placement, mentoring, case management, and support services for youth across the Cook County area.
"We assist people aged 16 through 24, which is a time in life where it's hard for young people to figure out what they want to do, and the population we serve are typically low-income with multiple employment barriers," she said. "We especially assist this venerable group of young people with finding employment, choosing a career path, going to school, while offering them supportive services to meet any needs they may have."
To address the needs of the community in the midst of the current pandemic, Antwi-Mensah noted that AACF has created the COVID-19 Rental Relief Program, which provides rental assistance to those whose incomes have been adversely affected by mandated stay-at-home orders and the closure of "non-essential"
"There are affordable housing shortages in the Chicago area already…coupled with some public housing closures and rents and living expenses in the Chicago area," she said. "So, our concern is for young people who are on hourly wages without benefits who may not get unemployment benefits due when they're in-between jobs. We wanted to help them with the funds needed to make their rent and prevent homelessness."
In addition to helping their clients navigate the system, learn what benefits are available, and providing funds to keep them in their homes, AACF's COVID-19 Rental Relief Program also provides bus passes, food, and other vital necessities.
As a not-for-profit, AACF is suported by public funds as well as donations, and Antwi-Mensah invited anyone interested in helping young people get off to the right start in life to consider pitching in if possible.
"Our goal is to raise at least $100,000 for our COVID-19 Rental Relief Program so that we can help as many people as possible," she said. "We also have a GoFundMe page if anyone is interested in donating to help the youth of our community."
If you want to find out more about the African American Christian Foundation or donate, please visit https://aacfworks.org.