figure holding out hand

b&b155 CFED cohorts Chinese Mutual Aid Association

We took the show on the road to Chi-Town, where we got to speak with Margaret Smith, the Youth Program Manager, and Dennis Mondero, the Executive Director, of the Chinese Mutual Aid Association. The CMAA serves low-income immigrants, refugees, people from all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, all generations from youth to seniors, and people of all abilities.

Partnership with CFED and the Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative. We interview organizations who are actively working to close the racial wealth divide in innovative, exciting, and effective ways.

Music featured in this week’s episode:
Young Malcom —ft. Futa by AmAZin

They Said… by Raidge

Check out the work CMAA is doing on their website:

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Episode Highlights:

Dedrick: If you ask about a big issue confronting our community, language is a big piece of it but…I think it’s lack of knowledge about how you access government…and so you often see many long term, permanent legal residents and they’ve never been educated about the importance of becoming a US citizen. They decry the working condition in the community, but they don’t know that, “Hey, if I become a US citizen I have this really important, powerful responsibility to vote.”

Margaret: out of all of the beautiful things of CMAA, a great thing is that we have full members of families that come and access our services at any given time. So usually family members will hear about it from one area of the other, but we’ll have a grandfather that’s coming in for ESL classes, and on his way out he’s picking up his kids from after school programs…and we have kids that come to after school, they come to me, “Hey, my mom’s taking her citizenship test soon, can we talk about getting some private tutoring for her, some ESL classes.” So, not only do people within the community give word of mouth, but families recommend our services to each other.

Dedrick: There was a park, Buttercup Park in Chicago, which was, at the beginning of last summer, overrun by gangs. And it was right next to McCutchen Grammar School, and so every Wednesday night, Margaret was out, toiling ‘til 9 or 10 o’clock at night with bouncy houses, basketball, like mobile basketball courts, and we were doing positive loitering…and the gangs stopped hanging out in that park, but, do we have the funding to continue that program this coming summer? …It’s a constant battle.