Little Village, often referred to as the “Mexico of the Midwest,” is a dense community in the western and central areas of South Lawndale, with a major commercial district along 26th Street. The area was originally settled by Eastern European and Czech and Bohemian immigrants in the late 19th century, after the Great Chicago Fire sent the population of Chicago rippling out from the city’s center to the outlying countryside. Jobs created by industrial development in the early 20th century also attracted residents to the area. Little Village saw a marked increase in Polish immigrants in the mid-20th century.
Mexican and Chicano residents were pushed into the area by the mid-1960s due to segregationist policies in the city of Chicago. As African American residents were pushed into East Garfield Park and North Lawndale communities, this “forced Chicanos/Mexicanos south into Little Village” and the neighboring community of Pilsen. Scholar Juan C. Guerra notes that “the contiguous communities of Pilsen and Little Village merged and emerged as the newest and largest Mexican neighborhood in Chicago.
Little Village celebrates Mexican Independence Day every September with a parade down 26th Street. It is the largest Hispanic parade in Chicago. The Parade attracts thousands of spectators each year who flock to the neighborhood to show support and pride for their heritage.
Little Village also boasts its economic power in Chicago. Little Village’s 26th Street is the second highest grossing shopping district in the city. In 2015, the 2 mile street created $900 million in sales. Its contender, Michigan Avenue, made approximately $1.8 billion that same year.
Research shows that high-quality afterschool programs improve students’ educational outcomes, school attendance, and social and emotional learning. Consistent participation in afterschool programs has shown lower dropout rates and has helped close achievement gaps for low-income students.
Children who attend these well-supervised afterschool programs display better work habits, task persistence, social skills, pro-social behaviors, academic performance, and less aggressive behavior at the end of the school year.
High-quality afterschool programs can improve students’ academic performance, behavior, and help reduce crime by providing a safe, supervised environment during the hours kids are most likely to commit or become a victim of violent crime.
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