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The Critical Health Network (CHN) was developed in response to the disproportionately high infection and mortality rates of COVID-19 among Latinx and African American communities. The CHN is a collaboration between the Alternative Schools Network and community partners Youth Health Service Corps and Healthy Hood. The goal of the program is to combat COVID-19 infection and mortality rates in South and West Side Chicago communities through coordinated COVID-19 testing, health care support, contactless delivery of grocery and PPE kits, access to emergency support for rent, utilities and support for personal hygiene products. Program services are administered by youth living in the communities that they serve, providing an opportunity expand their work-related skills and gain a fuller understanding of health and healthcare careers. These Youth Leaders have reached thousands of families and will continue to serve those families in terms of their medical and social support needs.

What is the Critical Health Network:

A grassroots response to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a critical lifeline to some of Chicago's most marginalized black and brown communities (Pilsen, Hermosa, Little Village, Auburn Gresham, Englewood, and Back of the Yards.) In 2020, the members of the Critical Health has provided over 17,000 families, 91,000+ people with free:

  • PPE materials
  • Essential groceries
  • Hot meals
  • COVID-19 testing
  • Remote physical and mental health resources
  • Accurate COVID-19 public health guidance
The Critical Health Network was one of the first to:
  • Provide free community-based COVID testing
  • Pioneer zero-contact home delivery systems
  • Operate a bilingual community resource hotline
  • Create walk-up/pull-up food pantries
  • Offer monthly, single-day community events for in-need community members
The Critical Health Network has:
  • Saved countless lives
  • Reduced community spread and is a trusted community partner
  • Documented the plight of our communities during this pandemic
  • Been a voice for those not included in the dominant narrative (including the elderly, children and youth, undocumented, essential workers, and the unemployed)
The Critical Health Network is vital to realizing equity:
  • Curbing the new outbreaks of COVID-19
  • Reducing secondary impacts of the pandemic, including domestic violence, mental health crisis, and homelessness
  • Essential in ensuring COVID-19 vaccinations are completed by those communities most in need