UAct was one of 85 local organizations that received a COVID-19 Response Fund grant in 2020 from the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln and United Way of Central Illinois. We used the $5000 grant to support two outreach workers, DeAndre Neal and Jonathon Harrington, and supplies. Four culturally responsive flyers were created by Southern Illinois School of Medicine and printed for us in-kind by Memorial Medical Center. UAct Outreach Workers distributed flyers, masks and gloves and had direct conversations about COVID prevention with residents across East Springfield targetting neighborhoods, businesses, service groups, food-giveaways, housing complexes, demonstrations and more.
Vote By Mail Promotional Campaign
Because of the 2020 pandemic, voting early and by mail and drop box became critical to ensuring voter engagement. To respond, UAct ran a Vote-By-Mail promotional campaign targeting three East Springfield census tracks starring Mike Williams on video for social media and DeAndre and Jonathon Harrington conducting direct outreach with UAct-developed post cards.
Fight Flu Campaign
In November 2020, UAct Launched the Fight Flu campaign funded in partnership with Jane Ford. Jane has been a regular supporter of UAct’s outreach efforts since 2019. She contacted Sheila with her concern about the lack of attention being paid to the Flu and Sheila and Jane teamed up to support a mini-Fight Flu campaign that runs though April, 2021. A culturally responsive Fight Flu flyer was created with local information on where to obtain flu shots and why it is important. In 2022, UAct partnered with Jane Ford again to fund outreach delivered by DeAndre Neal to underserved communities under our Flight Flu campaign.
SMART NEIGHBORHOODS CAMPAIGN
There is a wealth of non-profits, governmental entities, civic and advocacy groups in Springfield that provide important information, programs and services to the Springfield community. These community resources help meet community needs and can be essential in stabilizing individuals and families. However, resource groups often face challenges meaningfully connecting with intended recipients in underserved areas of the city. Therefore, people from low-income communities often don’t adequately access available programs, services and information.
UAct’s Neighborhood Outreach Workers (OWs) assist community resource partners by disseminating their important information to or obtaining feedback from targeted underserved populations in small targeted outreach “campaigns”.
Our Outreach Workers serve as a direct link between resource providers and underserved people. DeAndre Neal and Aaron Pinkston-El, UAct’s Neighborhood Outreach Workers, are grass-roots activists who live and work directly with underserved community members. Both have developed trusted relationships among underserved populations, are familiar with local social services and systems and are devoted to community development.
Springfield Mass Transit District
In our first Partner Campaign in 2019, Friends of Transit, SMTD, and the Urban Action Network teamed up to assist SMTD assess their new route system. With input from the partners, UAct developed a 14-question survey that included rider demographics and satisfaction questions. Ninety-six individual riders were surveyed and their feedback provided SMTD with helpful information to modify routes and establish new priorities. The campaign was funded by Friends of Transit and UAct.
LEVITT Music Festival
Beginning in 2020, UAct contracted with Downtown Springfield Inc & partners to use Neighborhood Outreach Workers to conduct outreach for the downtown Levitt Music Series held every Thursday night on the “Y Block” in Springfield. DSI and UAct funded a campaign to utilize our two Outreach Workers, DeAndre Neal and Aaron Pinkston-El and Organizational Partner, Allissa Hall, for weekly outreach to East Springfield, attendance at the events and audience survey collection. The 10-week series was a major success for Springfield and our outreach workers. This partnership has continued and the music series will return in 2022.
Springfield Park District
In 2020, UAct contracted with the Springfield Park District to employ our outreach workers DeAndre and Aaron to disseminate Summer Program Guides throughout East Springfield and surrounding communities. OWs also disseminated 150 flyers to promote the Kiwanis Park Movie night to area families. Our outreach across East Springfield helped the Park District reach new audiences with direct in-person contact. As a result of these actions, the Springfield Park District later would submit a grant request for funds to improve Kiwanis Park. For 2022, UAct supported these efforts by matching funds for OW DeAndre Neal to collect feedback from residents in the Lake Victoria neighborhood to support the Kiwanis Park Improvement grant.
Outreach Worker DeAndre Neal worked with UAct partner, Chris Richmond, to assist his newly formed group Pillsbury Forward to canvass Pillsbury area neighborhoods with information on a community forum to discuss solutions to the unique problems of this area.
After Springfield Fire Department Division Chief, Chris Richmond, spoke to REAP at its monthly meeting, Sara Jacobs coordinated a neighborhood canvass of the Glen Aire neighborhood distributing materials about the Springfield Fire Department’s free smoke alarm program and discussing home safety with residents.