Cicero Illinois.

As an adjacent suburb of Chicago, Cicero is empowering residents of all ages to improve community health and outcomes. In a Latino-majority town where nearly half of residents identify as immigrants, community members and organizations have rallied to keep their school-based health clinic open, prevent violence on school routes, provide safe and enriching afterschool programming, and increase access to early education. Community providers offer mental health counseling and trainings to help generate trauma awareness and combat its negative effects.

Cicero’s efforts are guided by a collaborative of community stakeholders. Direct engagement with residents, parents, and young people has shaped solutions, setting the stage for a stronger community for future generations. Thanks to a strong collaborative spirit, Cicero is united in its mission to enhance quality of life for all.

A Unified Path Toward Better Health

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.

A community summit in 2007 led to action on multiple fronts to address the root causes of gang violence—from the lack of parental involvement in the lives of young people to poverty, illiteracy, linguistic isolation, and the lack of knowledge regarding community services or resources.

The CCC aligns residents and 23 partner organizations—nonprofit service providers, schools, local government, law enforcement—around the most challenging issues in their journey for better health. Cicero has come together to increase safety, enhance the education of young children, and develop the leadership skills of residents.