Community & Policy Advocacy

Mano a Mano recognizes that advocacy on behalf of our community is an essential strategy to accomplishing our stated vision and mission.  We acknowledge that influencing public policy, decision-making processes, and public sentiment are legal and powerful ways to advance the interests of our community and our organization.  

As an organization, Mano a Mano seeks to be a thought leader in the State of Illinois on immigrant integration programming and policies. We recognize that advocacy is not only limited to influencing legislation and policy, but also includes: building community awareness; educating the community and decision-makers; and elevating the voices of immigrant families in all forums.

    Therefore, and in compliance with regulations governing nonprofit advocacy and lobbying, Mano a Mano commits to engaging in regular advocacy to both advance the interests of the organization and also the interests and well-being of our clients.  Furthermore, in a situation where a policy directly impacts the mission of Mano a Mano, we commit to taking a local leadership role in advocating for a positive outcome on that issue. 

    Aligned with our programming, Mano a Mano organizes our advocacy focus into five areas: Health, Adult Education, Early Childhood Education, Immigration, and Social Services Funding.

    Mano a Mano's Advocacy Agenda (as approved by the Board of Directors, April 2018):


    • Improve access to affordable and high-quality primary and mental health care for all immigrants and their families, regardless of their immigration status
    • Build the healthcare system’s cultural and linguistic capacity to serve diverse community members
    • Ensure unique healthcare barriers faced by immigrants are considered and addressed in policy-making and administration
    • Promote immigrant family access to health and human services without penalization/punitive impact on immigration cases (current or future)

    Adult Education:

    • Ensure access to free adult education resources throughout the community that respond to the unique challenges facing adult learners
    • Improve academic and financial access to post-secondary education institutions for low-income adult learners
    • Early Childhood Education
    • Advocate to make high-quality, affordable, early-learning opportunities available to all children
    • Promote partnerships that support family engagement and community-based involvement to improve student academic achievement
    • Facilitate access to legally-mandated resources and early intervention screenings for children with special needs


    • Improve the efficiency and clarity of the administration of immigration regulations and law for those individuals and their families seeking immigration benefits/relief (and their legal representatives)
    • Build the trust of immigrant families with local law enforcement, government, and other community institutions
    • Promote family unification and compassion to those seeking better opportunities and refuge from danger and violence
    • Ensure the humane and just treatment of those immigrants interacting with law enforcement, detention, and the immigration courts system
    • Value the contributions of immigrant families and individuals who have lived much of their lives in this country and have in good faith integrated themselves into the community
    • Build the capacity of non-profit organizations providing immigration legal services, while educating on and preventing the unlawful practice of immigration law

    Social Services Funding:

    • Increase public appropriations to suburban communities in response to changing regional needs and demographics
    • Ensure the timely payment and reimbursement of government funds to social services grantees
    • Improve social service programming to response to the cultural and linguistic needs of immigrant families
    • Provide funding based on demonstrated agency performance and data-driven assessment of community needs and access (or lack thereof) to resources

    For more information about our Advocacy work, contact Megan McKenna, Director of Strategy and Development. 

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