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Our History

In 1984, UNO began as a grassroots effort between community groups, block clubs and churches to fulfill the developmental needs of the Hispanic immigrant community in Chicago. By creating elements that unite communities, UNO believes in the potential to transform entire neighborhoods, giving families a better chance at achieving the American dream. Over the past 25 years, UNO has focused on three direct principles: improving education, promoting citizenship and cultivating leaders, all to ensure the economic advancement for generations of Hispanics, and setting an example of what’s truly possible.

Today, UNO has emerged as the largest organization of its kind in the region, dedicated to the successful assimilation of Hispanics into American society. Nearly 20,000 individuals participate in UNO sponsored community events and forums each year. Following a rich tradition in education, civic responsibility and community leadership, the UNO network is a proven organization known for creating pathways and opportunities for the nation’s largest immigrant community, a vital part of our city’s history and future.

Metropolitan Leadership Institute (MLI) - UNO created the MLI in 2001 to galvanize action among working Hispanic professionals interested in harnessing leadership roles in the public and private sectors. Currently, over 246 Hispanics have participated in the MLI.

UNO Charter Schools – UNO currently operates a network of 16 charter schools, serving over 7,500 students and families each year. UNO believes that public schools should serve as the main platform for transitioning Hispanic families into successful and civic-minded Americans.

Parent and Community Involvement – For over two decades, UNO has offered parent involvement programs through its monthly parent workshops, family educational outings and family literacy nights. UNO also offers fourteen English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and twelve Digital Divide computer classes through adult enrichment programming, engaging roughly 860 participants across six community locations.

Citizenship Campaign – Our city’s vitality has been built on the strength of immigrant populations that have come to enjoy new freedoms and access new opportunities. UNO’s combined efforts in the naturalization process, in partnership with local businesses, organizations, churches and schools have helped more than 80,000 individuals become U.S. citizens.

Health Care Outreach - UNO refers an average of 5,000 people annually to free and reduced-cost health care services, and connects individuals to health insurance programs and services, including health screenings and medical providers across Chicago and suburbs.

Campaign to End Overcrowding - In Spring 2009, UNO launched a massive campaign to alleviate overcrowding in primarily Hispanic Chicago neighborhood schools, and was able to successfully secure a $98 million appropriation from the State of Illinois for the construction and/or renovation of charter school facilities. Once fully leveraged, these funds will enable UNO to build eight additional charter schools over the next four years to alleviate overcrowding.