Evolution & Impact

2019 Annual Report

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Dear Friends,

Erie Neighborhood House was established in 1870, and over the course of our history, our impact has been clear.   

We’ve always been innovators. We were home to one of Chicago’s first Kindergarten programs as a founding member of the Free Kindergarten Association in 1893. We were also home to one of the country's first Meals on Wheels programs.  

We’ve been an incubator for impactful independent community efforts, including the Erie Family Health Center, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, and Erie Elementary Charter School.

We’ve continuously expanded to better serve our community’s needs, opening a second home at our Community Center on Superior Street 25 years ago and later our third location in Little Village. Now, we’re excited to be expanding our childcare programming into Back of the Yards, the Near West Side, and Little Village to serve even more families.  

And through the years, we’ve thrived. We launched the TEAM mentoring program in 1984, which today boasts a 100% high school graduation rate and 98% college placement rate. More recently, we’ve grown our Citizenship & Immigration services from a single program into its own robust department that works to keep families together and achieve a greater sense of security in the United States.   

The number of individuals and families we’ve been here for over the course of our history is immeasurable. Our primary goal has always been to empower the people we serve to build powerful communities. Ultimately, we’re helping the people we work with every day lay the foundation for a just and inclusive society. That's the world we want to see, and that’s what we build towards with every single one of our programs and services. 

We’re so proud of the work our team has done this year and over the past 150 years, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for us. Thank you for joining us on this journey. We wouldn’t be where we are without supporters like you.

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Nicolas Guzman

Board President

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Kirstin Chernawsky

Executive Director


About Erie Neighborhood House

Since 1870, Erie Neighborhood House has provided comprehensive support immigrant and low-income families in Chicago need to thrive.

Today, Erie House serves individuals and families of all backgrounds, primarily the Latinx immigrant community. Through education, legal services, health programs and more, we empower the people we serve to build powerful communities. 

Upward mobility through hard work alone is more difficult to achieve for many immigrant and working class families. The community we serve faces limited access to affordable legal and citizenship support, high-quality early childhood education, adult education programs, and mental health services, all of which are necessary for families to thrive in Chicago and the United States. We provide these essential services to our community.

Through our work, we empower the population we serve to build stronger communities, ultimately leading to a more just and inclusive society.

Erie House Values

Promote education and wellness for individuals and families

Advocate for social change to advance our mission

Maintain strong community presence and partnerships

Amplify the voice of our community

Foster a spirit of service and inclusion

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Chicago has changed a lot since 1870. Over time, we've evolved with the city to meet the needs of its people.

Our programs are available to people of all ages, from early childhood to late adulthood, and include crucial support our people need to thrive. Often, families are involved in not just one, but two, or even three programs with us. Our services and programs have both an immediate and long-lasting impact and empower our participants to build strong communities.

Learn more about our comprehensive programs and services:

Citizenship & Immigration Legal Services

Our in-house attorneys and DOJ-accredited representatives provide access to low-cost, critical resources to foster security and reunification of immigrant families.

Workforce Coaching and Training

We equip adults with the skills, tools, and knowledge they need to earn a living wage and become leaders in the high-demand fields of manufacturing, healthcare, and more. 

Adult Education & Community Literacy

We provide classes in English, basic skills like math and reading, and civic engagement. Through these courses, our students learn how to thrive in the classroom for continued education, in the workplace, and in their communities.

Leadership Development

We support leaders in the movement for community well-being, mobilizing our participants in advocacy efforts and training individuals to become Community Navigators and deliver Know Your Rights information and resources to immigrant families.

Trauma-Informed Counseling

Through our Proyecto Cuídate programming, we help individuals and families heal following trauma. Through counseling, case management, support services, and restorative practices, we build stronger, healthier families and communities.

Nutrition & Wellness

Healthy people build strong, thriving communities. We reinforce healthy living for our people of all ages through lessons about nutrition and food choices, fitness activities, cooking demonstrations, education for cardiovascular health and diabetes prevention, and more.

Early Childhood Education

Our NAEYC-accredited, full-day program provides a safe, nurturing space for children ages 2-5, supporting working parents in the process. Our child-centered curriculum develops crucial kindergarten-readiness skills, with 97% of our 5-year olds meeting literacy expectations. Our classroom teachers also collaborate with a clinical psychologist and family workers to foster cognitive, socio-emotional and physical well-being for the children in our program.

Expanded Learning After-School & Summertime Programming


Students in grades 1-3 attend our READS program twice a week in Little Village to work with a tutor and improve reading comprehension, decoding skills, digital literacy, reading fluency, and enjoyment of reading. This is an important age for predicting future success in school, and 91% of our students improve their reading by an entire grade level after one year. 


In our Illinois ExceleRate Gold Circle of Quality rated school-age program, we offer activities and clubs designed to support academic, socio-emotional and physical growth during after-school and out-of-school hours for school-age kids across three of our sites. Programming includes hands-on help with reading and homework, sports and open gym, STEM activities, and more. 

Youth Options Unlimited (YOU)

Our YOU team works alongside students to equip them with the academic and health and wellness tools they need to learn, grow, and develop resilience — all in a safe, supportive environment. High school students in TEAM receive weekly one-on-one mentoring, job shadowing opportunities, and assistance with college and financial add applications.

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Making Moves at Erie House

Every day at Erie House, we see our students, mentees, clients, and friends take the next big step in their lives.

Whether it's to start the next phase of their education, begin an exciting new career, take their naturalization oath, or something else, we're here for folks of all ages to help them reach their goals. And of course, the people and families we serve know our doors are always open and they're always welcome. That's why so many think of Erie House as a second home.


Maria and Megan Davis, Erie House Director of Legal Services, shared a celebratory coffee after Maria won her asylum case. Now, she and her two children can move forward with their lives knowing they can remain lawfully in the United States.

Last year, our legal services department grew at an incredible rate, and 96% of our participants' immigration applications were approved.

Five-year-olds in our Early Childhood Education program celebrated "graduating" and moving on to Kindergarten.

At Erie House, 9 out of 10 of our five-year-olds meet Kindergarten-readiness requirements, which is a critical benchmark for long-term academic success.


High school seniors in our TEAM class of 2019 celebrated their graduation with their mentors.

Last year, our YOU program received a coveted Gold Star Accreditation from Mentor Illinois. In our TEAM mentoring program through YOU, all of our seniors graduate high school and 98% go on to college.

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Give to Erie Neighborhood House

When you give to Erie House, you support programs and services that strengthen communities and help to build a more just and inclusive society.


We're grateful for our supporters.

Hear from them about why they choose to give back to Erie Neighborhood House.


"We often only hear about the bad things, how people are cruel and xenophobic. But there are a lot of people who, in big and small ways, are making a huge difference. At Erie House, I can tell people feel safe. They feel welcome, and I'm glad to be a part of creating that environment."

Sally Pryor

Citizenship Classes Volunteer & Transformational Donor


"I know my wife was very appreciative and she spoke well of Erie House for her whole life. They gave her an anchor to start out with. It probably guided her whole life and was why she went into teaching, including teaching school in migrant worker camps. She inherited her sense of giving from Erie House."

Archie Buchanan

Legacy Donor

In memory of Suzanne Buchanan and her sister Julie Goode, who grew up at Erie House in the late 1920's-30's.

"Erie House is an incredible agency, and my heart and soul are still there. The childcare program is one of the best in the city. The agency has also started several programs that have grown into their own influential organizations [Bickerdike Housing, Erie Family Health Centers, and Erie Elementary Charter School]."

Angela Carroll

Former Erie House Director of Childcare (1971-1997) & Monthly Donor


"I know very well there are kids and families that get exponential results from the couple hours they spend at Erie House or a $100 donation a donor gives. At a high level, Erie House is a family that cares and supports those that need care and support."

Mario Sanchez

Former Erie House YOU Participant, Associate Board Member, TEAM Mentor & Sustaining Donor


Fiscal Year 2019 Financial Highlights

Where Funds Come From


49% - Government

32% - Other Sources

7% - Private Contributions

6% - Program Service Fees

5% - Special Events

1% - United Way

How Funds Are Used


88% - Programs

8% - Fundraising

4% - Management & General

Click here to download our 2019 Annual Report Financial Highlights document.

Click here to download complete Fiscal Year 2019 audited financial statements.

Erie House Board of Directors

Nicolas Guzman

Faegre Drinker, LLP

Craig Castelli

Vice President
Caber Hill Advisors

Dan Hartnett

Commscope, Inc. (Retired)

Gail Taggart

L3 Hospitality Group

Felipe Cuartas

Associate Board President

Beth Benjamin

CIBC Bank USA (Retired)

Lory Carbajal Van Ness

The Coca-Cola Company

Frances Delgado

Teamsters Local 705

Lavine Douglas

Motorola Solutions

Steven Fox

Transportation and Logistics Advisors

Paul Gassel

Wrightwood Wealth Management, LLC

Ashley Galston

K&L Gates, LLP

Kahlil Hogan


Stephanie Kanter

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

Librada Killian

JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Lou Leonardi


Heather Mejia


Monique Mervin

University of Chicago School of Law

Oswaldo Ortega


Patricia Perez

Kirkland & Ellis

Sandy Pundmann

Deloitte & Touche, LLP

Carlos Ramirez

Illinois Department of Transportation

Asael Reyes

Youth Representative

Sarah Rios

Program Representative: Child Care, School-Age

Maria Rocha

Program Representative: Youth Options Unlimited (YOU)

Chris Terzich


Honorary Life Trustees

Charles W. Armstrong*

Phyllis Armstrong*

Elmera Brooks

Elizabeth S. Bryan

May R. Burns*

Ann S. Carton

R. Gerald Fox

Robert A. Gielow*

Elizabeth S. Graham*

John R. Hall

Mark A. Jolicoeur

John D. Leslie

Marie Leslie

James J. McClure, Jr.*

Lynn McClure*

Victor "Sy" Nelson

Jack O'Kieffe

Bertha H. Pepe

Donald E. Quinn

Lois Quinn

Rev. Paul Rutgers*

Rose Ann Savino

Marjorie G. Schuham

John Van Pelt

Harry Vincent*

Nancy Vincent

Carol Wiley

Robert Wiley*

Richard Wiley

Kathy Wiley

*deceased member

Download the Annual Report Booklet

For our 150th year of service, we have two Anniversary Year Platinum Sponsors.

Custom Companies and Solano-DeCarrier Management are providing generous support to Erie House throughout our milestone year.

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"I was an Erie House kid back in the '70s. Coming from an immigrant family, having barely enough food to eat, and trying to make sure we stayed out of trouble, Erie House was an oasis for me. To be able to come back as an adult and give back — volunteering, then being on the board and helping lead the organization, and now as a supporter — is icing on the cake.

People need someone to believe in them and take a chance on them, and the way Erie House impacts people's lives is incredible. Erie House opens doors for people who didn't know there was one, and that can continue to have a positive impact sometimes a year, two years, or even a decade later.

If I'm going to put my money anywhere, it's going to be in an organization like Erie House that's gotten it right for 150 years. I want to make sure Erie House can have their doors open for another 150 years."

John DeCarrier

Owner, Solano-DeCarrier Management


"Imagine a place where anyone that walks through the front door can achieve almost anything in life. 

I first became an Erie House kid in 1968 and can proudly say that being an Erie House kid was a game changer in my life.

As I grew into the adult phase of my life, I realized how important programs like Erie House can be to the development of or in someone's life.

There's no place else like the Erie House anywhere in America."

Perry Mandera

CEO, Custom Companies