April Newsletter

A Note From Our Executive Director

Dear WSU Friends, 

I hope that you are adjusting during this season of change and renewal. I’d like to share a few of our spring programmatic and staff updates. We are collecting masks for moms and our targeted communities, piloting a fruit and vegetable voucher program and reflecting on feedback we received during our 4th annual Community report out on March 5th. We also bid farewell to one of our backbone staff and Executive Leadership Council members during this season of transformation. I hope that you and your families continue to be well during this unprecedented time in our world where change continues to be the only constant. 

Be well,

Ayesha Jaco, Executive Director
West Side United 


Programatic Updates

Health & Healthcare 

Fruits and Vegetables Voucher 
WSU has created a Fruits and Vegetables Voucher Program to increase and encourage consumption of fresh produce among West Side residents. The goal of this program is to provide hospital patients who live in the WSU catchment area with vouchers that can be redeemed for fruits and vegetables at a wide variety of neighborhood vendors (e.g., grocers, corner stores, farmers markets, produce stands). 
The healthy food access working group of WSU seeks information on any or all elements of the proposed program. Anyone interested in sharing what they know about voucher programs is encouraged to respond. To view the RFI for the Fruits and Vegetables Voucher Program, click here
Masks For Moms

We invite you to help us donate CDC approved handmade masks to expectant moms in the Chicagoland area. 

For more information, click here to view the Masks For Moms homepage or email WSU Program Manager Martina Coe at
Economic Vitality

Verizon Wireless donates $25k to support West Side United’s 2020 Small Business Grant Pool

Verizon Wireless has a deep commitment to supporting neighbors and building community. Each year this corporation delivers thousands of hours of community service and millions of dollars to support local communities. We are honored to have Verizon to contribute to our Small Business Grant pool that has provided $585k to existing and start up businesses that serve the West Side since 2018.  Verizon’s donation will support our 3rd cohort of Small Business Grantees.

WSU Announcements

March 5th Recap

On March 5th, West Side United held a community convening with nearly 500 West Side attendees. These included West Side residents, WSU program participants, staff from our six anchor institutions, and donors.

Through the convening, we were able to update WSU’s stakeholders on our progress over the last year and our share plan for the Next 1,000 Days!

Together, we heard from a business owner who received one of our small business grants; we watched a phenomenal video portrait of WSU that our social media fellow, Gerardo, created; and we committed to supporting the work for the next three years.

Following the event, we collected feedback from participants about March 5th and about our plan for the Next 1,000 Days. Many respondents noted that they would like time for networking, more audience engagement, and presentations from community residents. We heard you and are looking forward to including those pieces in our event next year!

There was broad support for our plan for the Next 1,000 Days, although respondents were especially excited about our initiatives that will bring resources and jobs to the West Side. A graph of the responses is presented below. 

Staff Updates

Farewell Karen

We would like to thank Karen Aguirre for being such a valuable contributor to the West Side United Backbone team. We wish Karen all the best in her new role at Now Pow.


Welcome our Special Projects Manager (Cross-functional, Community-aligned, and Inclusive)

West Side United would like to welcome LeShonne Segura to our team as the New Special Projects Manager. LeShonne will work closely with West Side United (WSU) to develop a strategic plan and implementation of at least one robust, multi-service community hub model housed within an active PK-12 public school on the West Side. 

This role will be responsible for ensuring that WSU’s Community Hub(s) serves the interests of the community, including the enrolled students and their families, as well as the community at large. The objective is to have a multi-generational set of resources/services that align with what the community desires while also bolstering the school’s academic environment.  

Before joining Kids First Chicago and West Side United, LeShonne served as the Manager, Program Investments at The Chicago Public Education Fund. There, she grew school support programs to their largest cohorts to date and helped launch partner convenings, a signature feature of The Fund’s partner management approach. LeShonne began her career as a corps member with City Year at a school in Chicago’s West Side. She then joined Teach For America as the Director of College Counseling in the Noble Network of Charter Schools, later founding the Family and Community Engagement department at Rowe Elementary. 

LeShonne was recently recognized as Education Pioneers Agent of Change and Negocios Now 40 Under 40 Latinos in Chicago. LeShonne is a Chicago native and an alumna of Chicago Public Schools. LeShonne graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and received a Master’s in Teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education. In her free time, LeShonne enjoys dancing, fitness, reading, and traveling with her family.

Board Updates & Transitions

 We salute Dr. Sharon Homan on her departure as Director of the Sinai Urban        Health Institute and wish her well on her retirement. Sharon was a key            contributor to West Side United’s data and metrics framework and a member                  of our Executive Leadership Council.


WSU Resources

West Side United has been compiling resources to support residents during the coronavirus crisis. You can access different resources at

For more updates on West Side United, follow us!

About West Side United

 West Side United seeks to improve neighborhood health by addressing inequality in healthcare, education, economic vitality and the physical environment using a cross-sector, place-based strategy. Partners include healthcare providers including AMITA Health, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Cook County Health & Hospitals System, Rush University Medical Center, Sinai Health System, and UI Health, community organizations, residents, the faith-based community, business, government, and others working together to coordinate investments and share outcomes. 

Copyright © 2018 West Side United, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you have attended an event hosted by West Side United. 

Our mailing address is:
West Side United
2225 W Harrison Street
Chicago, IL, 60612

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.