What is Heartland Alliance and how/when did it start?

Heartland Alliance is a non-profit organization that is huge! I can’t even begin to explain it. This is the blurb you can see on our website.

Heartland Alliance—the leading anti-poverty organization in the Midwest— believes that all of us deserve the opportunity to improve our lives. Each year, we help ensure this opportunity for nearly one million people around the world who are homeless, living in poverty, or seeking safety.

Our policy efforts strengthen communities; our comprehensive services empower those we serve to rebuild and transform their lives.  Because of this 125-year commitment, Heartland Alliance has evolved into an organization that is uniquely:

Far-reaching: Each year, in Chicago, the Midwest, and around the world, our services help nearly one million struggling people secure the most basic of human needs — housing and health care, jobs and justice.

Holistic: Because the causes of poverty, injustice, and lack of opportunity are interrelated and interlocking, our programs are similarly comprehensive and integrated, allowing us to achieve an unusual synergy in meeting our clients’ needs.

Change-driven: In addition to direct service, we partner with lawmakers and organizations to shape public policies that fit the needs of everyone, ensuring that even the most vulnerable can realize a brighter future.


What made you want to work there?

I had graduated from DePaul University in 2011 with a degree in Secondary Education and finished working with AmeriCorps’s City Year. When I found the position with Heartland Alliance in 2013 I was working with Youth Guidance part-time. I wanted to get more experience as a teacher while working in a non-profit and Heartland Alliance was a good fit. The hours fit my schedule and it was a bit more flexible than if I was working in Chicago Public Schools.


Is there anything that this job has done for you? How has it impacted you?

Working in Heartland Alliance has helped me grow into a better teacher. I have gained more experience here working with students and helping them improve not only their English but their literacy and math skills. Although I am working with adults, the skills I have acquired will help me in the future if I ever choose to work in a high school.


Are there any favorite memories from this job you can recall?

There are many favorite memories from this job since it’s never boring. One memory that sticks out to me however is when my very first ABE/Pre-GED students “graduated” from the program, they were mad because they didn’t want to leave and kept asking me if they could stay. Although it was sad to see them leave, I felt very happy that they wanted to stay in my class because that meant that they were learning and enjoying it.


What are some things you guys are always looking for to further the success of your job?

We’re always looking for ways to help our students learn and achieve their goals. Personally I’m always looking for new techniques and projects that will help my ABE/Pre-GED students to reach their potential while learning the skills necessary if they want to take the GED in the future. I also try to look for ways to keep my students and keep them interested in coming back. When my students graduate the program, I try to help them find other schools they can go to or other classes they can take in our school aside from the English classes. We also always try to make them feel like the school is their second home.


Is there anything you would like to tell the readers so they could help or contribute?

We are always looking for volunteers! Whether it’s to teach or to tutor students, we are always looking for people who want to help out students practice their English!


Is there anything else you would like people to know?

Our students are always very friendly and there’s almost always food in the school thanks to our students! They love to feed us!


Remember to stay motivated and keep on learning. If you would like to help out then go ahead and contact Jennifer Perez by email!