United African Organization

COVID-19 Resources

March 23, 2020AdminBlog, Resources


City of Chicago COVID Response Centerhttps://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid-19/home.html

State of Illinois COVID-19 Response: https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/coronavirus/Pages/default.aspx



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html .

University of Illinois at Chicago’s COVID-19 Public Health Response HUB: https://publichealth.uic.edu/uic-covid-19-public-health-response/


Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund. This Fund supports local non-profit organizations that have been impacted by Coronavirus and are actively working to support the communities they serve: https://www.chicagocovid19responsefund.org/

Grant application/interest: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf7YtOABWNwzj-GP4Rfo4Tyxf3sL96Wd2F5tlQ4aWnH9jPeTA/viewform

City of Chicago Small Business Relief Package: Mayor Lightfoot announced a $100 Million Relief Package for Chicago Small Businesses. The new fund will provide more than $100 million in low-interest loans to severely impacted small businesses over the coming month, targeting historically under-resourced communities with an emphasis on minimizing hardship for those businesses and their employees. For more information and to fill out the application, please click here. The State of Illinois has also announced some relief programs for businesses in the state. For that information, please click here.

Illinois Department of Commerce and & Economic Opportunity: Emergency Small Business Grants and Loans Assistance - https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/SmallBizAssistance/Pages/EmergencySBAIntiatives.aspx

The University of Chicago’s South Side COVID-19 Small Business and Nonprofit Emergency Fundhttps://coronavirusupdates.uchicago.edu/community-support/


Illinois Department of Employment Security – Unemployment Insurancehttps://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/COVID-19-and-Unemployment-Benefits.aspx

In order to process the extremely high volume of unemployment benefit claims due to COVID-19, IDES has implemented the following schedule for those filing claims online and over the phone:

Online Filing Schedule:

  • Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to file their claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
  • Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to file their claims on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays.
  • Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.

Call Center Filing Schedule:

  • Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30am – 6pm.
  • Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30am – 6pm.
  • Fridays (7:30am – 6pm) will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.

The day or time of day in which a claim is filed will not impact whether you receive benefits or your benefit amount. Additionally, claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which a claimant was laid-off or let go from their job due to COVID-19. Note: The days in which you can file a claim may be different from the days in which you are asked to certify.

ROC United Restaurant Workers Disaster Relief Fund: For restaurant workers immediate needs for financial assistance, visit rocunited.org/relief to apply for assistance.


Chicago Food Depository: With a few exceptions, our network of 700 partner agencies and programs remains open. Find a food program at https://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/find-food/.

Chicago Public Schools Food Distribution: Beginning Tuesday, 3/17 CPS schools are distributing free food boxes containing 3 days of breakfast & lunch for every student in the household from 9-1p. Lunchroom staff will also distribute prepped meals outside of the school. For emergency delivery, please call 773-553-KIDS.

Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS): Until March 27, DFSS will provide a three day supply of food (½ fresh & ½ frozen) that will be home delivered instead of provided onsite. Seniors who find themselves in need of such support can call 312-744-4016 anytime between 9a.m. and 5p.m., Monday-Friday. This resource is for City of Chicago residents only.

Reporting Pricing Gouging/Unfair Pricing: The Office of the Illinois Attorney General is taking action against reports of price gouging on critical products tied to the pandemic. Consumers should report instances of unfair practices to the Attorney General at www.IllinoisAttorneyGeneral.gov.

Online form  can be accessed at: https://ccformsubmission.ilattorneygeneral.net/

Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide: https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/03/food-safety-and-coronavirus-a-comprehensive-guide.html?fbclid=IwAR240URq5aOQX1yBRszoE83tTUaPOd2u5Krz0M642O0iI1iZY-Lcd17n4dc

Chicago Retailers with Senior Shopping Hours

  • Shop & Save (Local Market) – Open early from 6am-7am for seniors
  • Dollar General – First hour of opening for seniors
  • Target – First hour of opening for “vulnerable” populations on Wednesdays
  • Tony’s – Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7am-9am
  • Walmart – Tuesdays one hour before the store opens…for most stores the senior hour will be from 6am-7am
  • Food 4 Less – Tuesday/Friday 7:30am – 8:00 am
  • Whole Foods – One hour before opening (check local store)
  • Fairplay Foods – Tues/Thurs 7am-9am for vulnerable guests, including the elderly and those with underlying health concerns
  • Jewel-Osco – Tues/Thurs from 7am-9am for seniors, vulnerable populations and pregnant

Technology Access to help Children with Remote Schoolwork:

CPS is currently in the works of seeing if the district can provide technology for students who may not have it available at home. Families should have received an email asking if they have access to wifi, computers or ipads. Please encourage them to respond.  We at CPS are hoping ISBE will support our efforts to ensure every child has access. If they don’t have access paper packets were provided by schools. Food is being distributed daily to families at no cost.

In the meantime, try: www.everyoneon.org  Locates (nationally and  locally) affordable computers and low cost internet for schools and  individuals. They also have educational resources for kids while at home.

 FREEGEEKhttps://www.freegeek.org/ They are a nonprofit. Their physical space is closed right now, but they offer an email address to contact for those looking for computers for a K-12 student, plugin@freegeek.org.  They also have an online store for refurbished computers that they sell at more affordable prices and most have a price suggestion with the tag “or best offer,” so they might be able to negotiate a little for computers in households without a K-12 student. https://www.freegeek.org/shop/shop-online

Resources for Domestic Violence victims:

  • WINGS   https://wingsprogram.com/  -24 Hour Hotline – (847) 221-5680. The WINGS DV shelters are open however the Niles Store and all other stores are closed.
  • YWCA   https://www.ywca.org/ - 1215 Church St, Evanston, IL 60201-3505 – 847 864-8445
  • Sarah’s Inn  https://sarahsinn.org/ - 24-HOUR CRISIS LINE: 708-386-4225 – Sarah’s Inn Shelter is open
  • Regarding elder abuse/neglect. Adult Protective Services are suspending face to face interactions.  DCFS is suspending face to face as well unless it is an emergency.   Delayed reports/complaints will be taken over the phone.
  • Orders of Protection: The States Attorney’s Office is directing us to complete the orders online.


United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): All USCIS field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers (biometrics) will NOT provide in person services until at least April 7th, including interviews, naturalization ceremonies, and biometrics collection appointments. Emergency services will still be available, and a request can be made by contacting the USCIS Contact Center to schedule an appointment. The Chicago office will be sending descheduling notices to applicants, petitioners, and natz applicants about their appointments/oath ceremonies. All engagements will be rescheduled when USCIS resumes normal operations. See the attached USCIS announcement.

Naturalization Oath Ceremonies at Courthouses: Oath ceremonies scheduled to take place at the Dirksen and Roszkowski federal courthouses have been suspended. This has not yet been confirmed by USCIS, but the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois itself issued an Order indicating such (see page 4, paragraph 7). The USCIS Chicago Field Office has confirmed that oath ceremonies in the U.S. Central District of Illinois for Friday March 20th are cancelled. The online system should be updated when an oath ceremony is cancelled. Therefore, it would be prudent to encourage clients to check online prior to their scheduled ceremony if they have not received any notification.

Chicago Immigration Court: As of March 18, 2020, all non-detained hearings—including master calendar and merits hearings—scheduled for Immigration Court from March 16th-April 10th have been postponed. Certain immigration courts are entirely closed, but the Chicago Court itself is still open for filings during regular business hours, 8:30am to 4:00pm. Detained hearings are still proceeding as scheduled. Filing deadlines have not been continued or postponed, so practitioners should still continue to make appropriate filings even though all non-detained hearings have been postponed through April 10th. Updated information about EOIR’s operational status can be found on their website.

USCIS Announces Flexibility for Requests for Evidence, Notices of Intent to Deny: In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it is adopting a measure to assist applicants and petitioners who are responding to requests for evidence (RFEs) and notices of intent to deny (NOIDs) dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020.  For applicants and petitioners who receive an RFE or NOID dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020, any responses submitted within 60 calendar days after the response deadline set forth in the RFE or NOID will be considered by USCIS before any action is taken. USCIS is adopting several measures to protect our workforce and community, and to minimize the immigration consequences for those seeking immigration benefits during this time. USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance. Education and precautions are the strongest tools against COVID-19 infection. Please visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for latest facts and other USCIS updates.

ICIRR’s Resources for Immigrantshttps://docs.google.com/document/d/1_FkBlQh4AIuGm3_rQAVBIHmDM-j5cxatvnIoxEIbmCc/edit

COVID-19 Resources for Undocumented Communities:  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/18p9OSlLpSYanIoUC-gEbhVbRMYVUfw4wyrixa9ekGdc/htmlview?fbclid=IwAR0Ugilu7PAzD0SAAuxjVPkoPQl0_1BsSa9PRM4j6z0ylr-sXpdiX0hGFNo#

US Embassies: As of March 18, 2020, the Department of State is suspending routine visa services in most countries worldwide.  Embassies and consulates in these countries will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 18, 2020.  Check the website of the embassy or consulate for its current operating status. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide urgent and emergency visa services. These Embassies will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.  Although all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments are cancelled, the MRV fee is valid and may be used for a visa appointment in the country where it was paid within one year of the date of payment. This does not affect the visa waiver program. Services to U.S. citizens continue to be available. More information is available on the Embassy’s website. Applicants with an urgent matter and need to travel immediately should follow the guidance provided at the Embassy’s website to request an emergency appointment. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/suspension-of-routine-visa-services.html


Chicago’s COVID-19 Housing Assistance Grant is currently accepting applications! TO APPLY VISIT:  www.bit.ly/chirenta

  • The application is open now until April 1st, 202011:59 pm
  • The grant can provide a one-time $1,000 grant to Chicagoans who have lost their job or lost hours as a result of COVID-19.
  • Undocumented immigrants can and should apply.
  • These are not federal dollars and would not apply to the Public Charge test.
  • The selection process will be via a lottery system. And the Chicago Department of Housing will notify those selected.

The City of Chicago Emergency rental assistance program: This program provides financial assistance to Chicago residents, to prevent homelessness, to eligible individuals and families who are in danger of eviction in order to stabilize individuals and families in their existing rental unit. For more information about this program, please click here.

Temporary suspension of debt collection, ticketing and towing practices to provide relief in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. For more information on this policy, please click here.

ComEd: “Due to COVID-19, ComEd has voluntarily implemented a moratorium on service disconnections for non-payment, effective immediately. This suspension will apply to both residential and commercial customers and will remain in effect at least until May 1st. To further support customers who may be impacted by the pandemic, we will offer our most flexible pay plans to customers who indicate either an impact or hardship as a result of COVID-19.” https://www.comed.com/News/Pages/coronavirus.aspx

It is unclear if other Illinois utility companies are offering similar support to ensure peoples’ water, natural gas and electric service remain intact during this time. (https://www.energyandpolicy.org/utilities-disconnect-coronavirus/)


Public Benefits -Medicaid + Food Stamp Benefits:

  • Division of Rehabilitation Services’ (DRS) Offices will close until early April.
  • Family Community Resource Centers (FCRC) will remain open with reduced staff to follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus situation. Please note that FCRCs will have a reduced workforce of 30-50% staff working from the public-facing offices. Many of the staff who are not working at the public-facing offices will be working remotely and still able to process important benefits. You can find out more by accessing IDHS’s advisory here: http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=123342


Comcast is taking steps to implement the following new policies for the next 60 days, and other important initiatives:

  • Xfinity WiFi Free For Everyone: Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. For a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots, visit www.xfinity.com/wifi. Once at a hotspot, consumers should select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots and then launch a browser.
  • Pausing Our Data Plan: With so many people working and educating from home, we want our customers to access the internet without thinking about data plans. While the vast majority of our customers do not come close to using 1TB of data in a month, we are pausing our data plans for 60 days giving all customers Unlimited data for no additional charge.
  • No Disconnects or Late Fees: We will not disconnect a customer’s internet service or assess late fees if they contact us and let us know that they can’t pay their bills during this period. Our care teams will be available to offer flexible payment options and can help find other solutions.
  • Internet Essentials Free to New Customers: As announced yesterday, it’s even easier for low-income families who live in a Comcast service area to sign-up for Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. New customers will receive 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95/month. Additionally, for all new and existing Internet Essentials customers, the speed of the program’s Internet service was increased to 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. That increase will go into effect for no additional fee and it will become the new base speed for the program going forward.
  • News, Information and Educational Content on X1: For those with school-age students at home, we’ve created new educational collections for all grade levels in partnership with Common Sense Media. Just say “education” into your X1 or Flex voice remote. To help keep customers informed, we also have created a collection of the most current news and information on Coronavirus. Just say “Coronavirus” into your X1 or Flex voice remote.
  • 24×7 Network Monitoring: Underpinning all of these efforts, Comcast’s technology and engineering teams will continue to work tirelessly to support our network operations. We engineer our network capacity to handle spikes and shifts in usage patterns, and continuously test, monitor and enhance our systems and network to ensure they are ready to support customer usage. Our engineers and technicians staff our network operations centers 24/7 to ensure network performance and reliability. We are monitoring network usage and watching the load on the network both nationally and locally, and to date it is performing well. (https://corporate.comcast.com/covid-19)

UAO’s COVID-19 Response

March 18, 2020AdminBlog

UAO’s COVID-19 Response As At March 18, 2019


















UAO’s COVID-19 Response As At March 11, 2019

UAO’s Staffing & Office Hours:
The UAO office will remain open during normal business hours (9am to 5pm) with reduced staff. We are implementing a rotational system in which some staff work from the office while others work from home.

Events & Workshops are on hold. These include:

  • African Youth Forum (March 28)
  • Census (Outreach + Questionnaire Assistance sessions)
  • Money Mondays (March 23 and 30 workshops)


UAO Reaffirms Dignity of All Immigrants and Refugees Amid Racist Comments from White House

January 12, 2018AdminAdvocacy, Blog, Immigration
January 12, 2018
Nancy Asirifi-Otchere, United African Organization, 312-949-9980


United African Organization Reaffirms Dignity of All Immigrants and Refugees Amid Racist Comments from White House

United African Organization condemns President Trump’s derogatory remarks yesterday about Black immigrants from Africa and Haiti as shocking and shameful. Once again, refugees and immigrants are faced with an attack on our basic dignity.

For the past year, we have faced executive orders banning refugees and individuals from African and Muslim countries from entering the country. Many Africans coming into the USA were detained and, in many cases, sent back. We have seen the dismantling of the U.S. refugee program, the rescinding of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for hundreds of thousands Black and Brown immigrants terminated.


Nancy Asirifi-Otchere issued the following statement in response to yesterday’s offensive comments from the White House:

“Dismissing people from countries whose populations who are not white, as ‘not welcome’ is racist. Yesterday’s remarks from the White House do not represent American values and disrespects the humanity of millions of people.

We are disgusted by the president’s plan to use undocumented young people as bargaining chips to scrap current legal family-based immigration and the diversity visa program. These are some of the limited programs that allow Africans to make the US a new home.”

United African Organization stands with all marginalized communities and reaffirms the dignity of all immigrants and refugees. Additionally,

We Demand a Clean Dream Act that provides a pathway to legal status.
We Demand Protection for beneficiaries of of Temporary Protected Status
We Oppose the Family Ban
We Oppose Elimination of the Diversity Visa Program
We Oppose Separation of Families

Statement on Alie Kabba

Statement of UAO Board President on Dr. Alie Kabba:

It is with dismay that we learn of United African Organization (UAO) Executive Director, Dr. Alie Kabba’s arrest and detention by the Sierra Leone government for the third time in under 30 days.

Dr. Kabba, on a visit to Sierra Leone, was arrested a day after he gave an interview to the local Radio Democracy 98.1 FM station, during which he criticized the ruling government for corruption and nepotism.
We, as the largest African coalition in the United States, unequivocally condemn his arrest and call for his immediate unconditional release, acquittal and return back to the U.S.
“We call on President Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone to end the politically motivated persecution of Alie Kabba whose only crime is that he is an outspoken and fearless opposition leader with an unblemished record of fighting for democracy, rule of law, human rights and social justice”, says UAO Board Chair Godfrey Chinomona. “We demand his unconditional release and return of his seized U.S. passport.” Read more →


The phone rang…..

It was the security man downstairs saying there was a delivery.

It was this delightful tray of fresh baked pastries and bite-size cookies from www.bakeforme.com .

who is our secret admirer?

Thank you for making our day!

African Youth Forum on March 28th

March 25, 2015AdminBlog, Editorial Nook
Under the theme Black Lives  Matter!, our 2015 African Youth Forum creates opportunities for cross-issue dialogue around topics like “Police Brutality and Racial Profiling”, “Know Your Rights”, “Hip-Hop Music & Culture”, “What is Africa to me?” and “What does it mean to be Young and Black in Chicago?”.

Governor Rauner’s Budget Eliminates Immigrant Integration Service Line Item

Gov. Bruce Rauner

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposed $31.5 billion budget for the state’s next fiscal year includes devastating cuts on the backs of our vulnerable and most disadvantaged residents. The governor proposed cuts include $82 Million reduction in community mental health services, increase in required co-pays for childcare services, in addition to the elimination of state funding for entire programs such as Immigrant Integration Services.
The Immigrant Services Line Item helps Illinois’ immigrants apply to become U.S. citizens, provide health and nutrition outreach/access to low-income immigrants, helps refugees start new lives in Illinois, and support the integration of vulnerable members of immigrant communities.
Read more →

2014 UAO African Youth Forum a Huge Success

April 15, 2014AdminBlog

Roughly sixty participants joined United African Organization staff and volunteers at the 2014 African Youth Forum. Focusing on issues such as youth violence and incarceration, immigration and education, this year’s forum succeeded in raising awareness and inspiring youth participants to envision a better future for themselves and their community.

Vickie Casanova leads dance session

After School Matters instructor Vicki Casanova kicked off the festivities with a short interactive African dance presentation. With the help of students from the West Indian Folk Dance Company and After School Matters, Casanova got all of our youth participants up and moving to the beat of the shekeres and African drums.

Following the dance session, participants broke into two groups to discuss youth violence and incarceration, and immigration. VISTA member Jasmine Davis from First Defense Legal Aid led a “Know Your Rights” interactive session where she discussed basic legal rights and what to do and say if you are confronted by a police officer.

Jasmine Davis educates youth participants on their basic legal rights 

Meanwhile, UAO Executive Director Alie Kabba spoke to youth participants about current trends in African immigration to the US and the significance of immigration reform for the health and growth of the African community.

After enjoying a delicious spread courtesy of Yassa African Restaurant and Demera Ethiopian Restaurant, the forum wrapped up with an inspiring poetry reading from Spoken Word artist Tumelo Khoza followed by an education panel consisting of young African professionals. Members of the panel made clear the importance of a post-secondary degree in today’s job market and the need to set both a short and long term plan to achieve your goals.

Our thanks to all those who helped make the 2014 African Youth Forum possible. We look forward seeing you all again next year!

To find more pictures from the 2014 UAO African Youth Forum, please visit our Facebook page.

by Max Woxland, UAO Intern

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