Longtime residents of Cicero talk about the way things were and the way things are. Two decades ago, this community of 83,000 people, just outside of Chicago, was tormented by street gangs, a situation that was fueled by poverty, disconnected youth, and a lack of resources. Today, Cicero is on a path few residents could have imagined before, with ground-up action and tangible results leading this Cook County community toward a sustainable Culture of Health.
Cicero, which is 89 percent Latino, shines as an example of residents, young and old, uniting as a community to make broad and deep progress around a set of shared goals. The spirit of collaboration that started 10 years ago with the drive to tackle gang violence has gained traction and spread into other areas. Today, the Cicero Community Collaborative (CCC) serves as a platform to give everyone a voice in defining needs, agreeing on priorities and taking actions that give everyone a chance at a healthier life.
“As simple as it sounds, they are genuinely working together for the good of the community, which is difficult to do,” says Jackie Rosa, a community engagement manager for the United Way of Metro Chicago.