Heartland Alliance

A Year of Big Change.

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R&P Enews | Focus on Equity

Society is better for everyone when even the most vulnerable among us can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.


This July we are reflecting on the values of our nation and the stark reality that access to opportunity is uneven. At Heartland Alliance, we are using our work and voices to ensure that individuals in our communities, and around the nation, can equitably access health and healing, safety and justice, and economic opportunity.

See how the team at Heartland Alliance Research & Policy is working to realize these values for ALL.



Join Heartland Alliance, the Chicago Foundation for Women, Chicago Public Library, and the Office of the City Clerk of Chicago on Wednesday, August 14 to get full story of what life looks like for women and girls in our region, and how we can work together to change the narrative for women and girls.



Heartland Alliance Research Joins Chicago's City Clerk to Discuss the Status of Chicago's Women & Girls

Women and girls in Chicago face a multitude of obstacles when it comes to accessing well-being and true opportunity. That is why we are joining the Chicago City Clerk, Chicago Foundation for Women, and Chicago Public Library for the Whole Story: the Status of Chicago’s Women and Girls, on August 14, 2019. It is paramount for leaders throughout the community, government, and service providers to take the time to look at the whole story so that we can better understand how we can break down barriers and provide women and girls with equitable opportunities. 

So join us for this important discussion where we'll be sharing the latest data, our poverty report, the Gender Disadvantage, policy recommendations and opportunities to take action for women and girls. 


Public comments are due August 19, 2019. Urge the CFPB to strengthen the rule to protect consumers from harassment, abuse and deception by debt collectors and ensure that consumers receive important information about their rights. 



Submit Your Comments to End Abusive Debt Collection

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has proposed a new rule for debt collectors. In many ways, the rule does more to protect abusive debt collectors than consumers. You can help push for a strong rule that protects people with debt by submitting a comment.

Tell the CFPB that they need to strengthen the debt collection rule! Unique comments – even if they are short -- have the most impact. 

Here is a roadmap for comments – submit yours by August 19!


Our new interactive dashboard makes it easy for you to understand poverty and well-being in your community. Use this tool to understand need, target resources, and track progress towards ending poverty.


Understanding the Community Needs with Data

As we strive to make Illinois a place characterized by social justice, equity and economic opportunity, it’s important to look at the dynamics of poverty and well-being not only at the state and national levels, but also locally. That is why, earlier this month, we released our County Well-Being Index, which highlights counties that are experiencing particularly negative conditions and trends on four key indicators: poverty, unemployment, teen births, and high school graduation. The data is displayed through interactive maps that you can use to explore the County Well-Being Index as well as a host of indicators tracking how Illinois counties are doing at moving the needle on poverty.

Find out more about poverty in your community.

Learn how use our interactive maps and data.


  • Social IMPACT Research Center Fellow. The purpose of this fellowship is to train someone for future leadership in the field of applied social research. Training areas include topical training on poverty-related issues such as income, housing and homelessness, hunger, employment, education, asset building, and a wide variety of vulnerable populations; and research training in designing evaluations and studies, developing data collection tools and procedures, conducting data collection, analyzing data (both primary and secondary), and writing research reports. Learn more and apply.

  • Senior Project Manager, Field Building. The National Initiatives Field Building Senior Project Manager will coordinate and manage a handful of National Initiatives place-based projects, likely including place-based projects under the National Center on Employment and Homelessness (NCEH) initiative focused on elevating employment and good jobs in the fight to prevent and end homelessness through systems collaboration, policy change and field building. Learn more and apply.


Win-Win: Equipping Housing Providers to Open Doors to Housing for People with Criminal Records

Housing is essential to safety and well-being, but far too often, individuals with criminal records are denied safe, affordable housing. In Illinois, nearly 5 million adults, 50% of the population, are estimated to have an arrest or conviction record. Housing is foundational for employment success, family stability, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, criminal history checks are a typical part of the housing application processes, and many people with records are declined housing opportunities they would otherwise be a good fit for, but for the criminal record. 

That is why we have published, Win-Win a user-friendly guidance about the use of criminal records in screening and housing applicants, so that Heartland Alliance, along with our partners, can provide recommendations that housing providers can adopt and adapt, in whole or in part, to increase housing opportunities for people with criminal records. 

Read the report today.

Reforming Illinois's Healthcare System

Access to healthcare is essential to achieving one’s full potential but unfortunately, many in our communities face difficulties accessing the care they need due to a variety of different factors, such as administrative issues. That is why Heartland Alliance has pushed for healthcare access for ALL by advocating for much needed Medicaid reforms. Currently, Illinois’ Medicaid program has a backlog of over 100,000 applications (and it’s only growing) so we worked with legislators to pass reforms to hire more Medicaid professionals so that these applications can be processed and healthcare access renewed. 

Our Health Policy expert, Dan Rabbitt, shares more on this change in NPR Illinois.

Reimagining Justice 

Earlier this month, the Center for Law & Social Policy (CLASP) held a day long convening - Reconnecting, Realizing, and Reimagining Justice – where our friends and colleagues came together to think boldly about the future of the criminal justice system. One big takeaway: When it comes to the criminal justice system, we believe we can no longer rely on reform - we must reimagine the system.

Our own Melissa Young, Director of Heartland Alliance's National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity, was invited to join CLASP in Washington D.C. and participated alongside persons with lived experience of criminal justice involvement and advocates to discuss how we can reimagine, not just transform, our current system.

Take a look at  just some of the connections, ideas, and innovations that came from #ReconnectingJustice

New Staff

We are very excited to welcome Yoojin Kim as the newest member of the Research & Policy team. Yoojin is any intern with the Social IMPACT Research Center. Upon graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in economics and political science, she worked at an international development research organization in Washington, D.C. Before her move to Chicago, she took some time to travel, crafting lattes, serving pastas, and volunteering at hostels in the process. Learn more about Yoojin.

Our Social IMPACT Research team is excited to welcome back Katie Pelech. She is returning to the team for a year-long research fellowship where she will be working with our team on data needs for Heartland Alliance's READI Chicago program.

Heartland Alliance’s Research & Policy Division engages in research on social issues and solutions, policy and systems change, and field building nationwide. The division is home to Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center, Policy & Advocacy team, and our National Initiatives on Economic Opportunity.

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