Turning 68 years old in 2022, Pilsen Neighbors Community Council (PNCC) has been a community-based transformational organization.

Pilsen Neighbors Community Council has been key in transformation of the Pilsen community. PNCC’s mission is to work to establish policies and practices around the needs of the community by working with community leaders on local, state and federal issues. PNCC invests in the development of new community leaders through leadership training to bring about civic engagement and action that lead to the transformations of our communities.

PNCC has worked tirelessly on the issues of economic development, education reform, immigration reform, restorative justice, violence prevention, affordable housing reform and workforce development. The organization has been historically instrumental in organizing through a variety of grassroots movements.

For many years, the Pilsen neighborhood was known as a place where displaced families were relocated, with an evident lack of investment and resources available to its population.

Due to the need for investment, PNCC came up as the catalyst and organizer of various campaigns to fight for a solution to these issues.

In 1972, organizing for a new high school began. After a year of hard work, leaders organized a block party because they got approval from the city for the new high school. That block party was called Fiesta del Sol. Finally, on September 16th, 1977 Benito Juarez Community Academy was officially inaugurated. PNCC leaders began to put organizing philosophy into practice with a community vision to build a much-needed high school in Pilsen.

We take pride that throughout almost 7 decades, PNCC’s efforts in leading and organizing around issues in different areas, such as social and restorative justice, immigration, education, and housing have been successful. Now in 2022, we have an invaluable opportunity to continue to invest in the development of the community, not only in Pilsen, but citywide with the building of the new Leadership Development Institute (LDI).

The LDI building will function not only as a building for our community leaders, but as a transformational institute, that will provide a more impactful meaning to the people working in it and to the community.

The Leadership Development Institute (LDI) will be the foundation building to continue the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council legacy, whose mission is to work to establish policies and practices in the Pilsen and Southwest areas of Chicago to bring justice and equality by investing in the development of community leaders and pastors through leadership training and action.

This brand new transformational building will be formed by 4 vital foundational pillars:

Latino Legal Institute (LLI) – The work of the LLI involves restorative justice, to advocate for fairness, humanity, and equity throughout the transformational justice system with a primary focus on those affected by the system. LLI focus to legal literacy is simply defined as knowing the most basic principles of law. The legal literacy programs aim to empower communities with an increased knowledge of national and local laws, as well as basic human and civil rights.

The legal system can be extremely complex to navigate for those unfamiliar with it. And even for those of us who are. Community members with increased legal literacy are able to provide and access services related to outreach, legal education, document preparation, organizing, and legal and/or administrative system navigation.

A space that offers Pro-Bono legal services on different issues that our community may face (immigration, driver’s license reinstatement, cannabis expungement,and environmental justice, etc.).

Community Education Center (CEC) – The Community Education Center is working alongside higher ed institutions to create educational pathways for traditional, non-traditional, underrepresented students and educators in our community. We are securing resources and training that would empower them in their career and creating that pipeline to secure a job opportunity for a better quality of life.

The CEC will be a Job Market Connector as more and more individuals with skills become job-ready in the education, health, and tech fields. We will create a pathway through education initiatives.

By creating a cohort of students and regrouping all potential worksite partners of one to three sectors, we can facilitate their exposure to the public and make it easy for students to find what they need.

The CEC will be a hub for online courses in collaboration with City-Colleges of Chicago: Malcolm X College (lead college) (Health Care Courses, Adult learning courses, ACT/SAT Prep), Harold Washington College (Business Courses), Richard Daley College (Technology Courses), and Truman College (Teaching Courses). Given the COVID pandemic, online learning is essential. The CEC will provide these courses to non-traditional students in an effort to ensure a better quality of life for these individuals.

The CEC will strive to become a business incubator model for communities like Pilsen, Chinatown, Back of the Yards, which will be developed in collaboration with the City of Chicago Colleges.

Academy of Parents in Leadership (APL) – APL will train parents leaders from our community in the socio-emotional and economic factors that impact the success of their children within the schools, as well as the parents’ own success. It’s an opportunity to be able to coexist with other parents and community members to participate and lead training sessions that instill leadership growth inside and outside of our schools. APL seeks to help parents become strong school leaders and advocates in the educational issues affecting them, their children and the community; such as early childhood education, and dual language programs.

Fiesta del Sol (FDS) – The largest Latino festival in the country, organized by the community for the community. FDS is the largest outdoor free-admission festival of its kind that has not had alcohol or tobacco sponsorship. It has been for many years one of the main economic engines of the Pilsen neighborhood, and at the same time has become a business incubator where local vendors and small businesses have the opportunity to showcase their products to more than 1.3 million visitors during the four days of the festival. In addition, Fiesta del Sol attendees can obtain valuable information on the different expositions (immigration, housing, employment, health, etc.) that the festival offers. Fiesta del Sol has been the iconic Pilsen Festival, and this year will be celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Leadership Development Institute, the new home of Pilsen Neighbors Community Council.
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