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Chicago Partners With 31 Community Organizations For Contact Tracing Efforts

CHICAGO (CBS) — To keep up with the number of coronavirus cases throughout the city of Chicago, 31 community organizations will share a multi-million dollar grant to hire and process contact tracing efforts.

The initiative will use a $56 million grant from the city of Chicago. The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) will oversee the program.

Around 500 people will be hired through the organizations for a two-year project.

“As a city, it is our responsibility to ensure all our residents are safe and supported during these uncertain times,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “By creating much-needed jobs to support our city-wide response to COVID-19, the COVID Contact Tracing Corps and Resource Coordination Hub will help communities impacted the most by this disease to stay afloat and invest in their career pathways. We are proud to partner with The Partnership and our CBOs on this one-of-a-kind initiative and look forward to working together to continue empowering residents as they create the bright futures they deserve.”

The contact tracers will earn between $20 and $24 an hour for their work. While there is no specific prerequisite, the contact tracers have to be 18 or older. A background in customer service is desired because of the ability to communicate well with people who may have been exposed.

“We need folks who have a level of empathy and compassion because you’re going to be talking to people and telling them that they have been in contact with someone who has this dreaded disease, and you don’t know the circumstances of those individuals that you’re speaking to,” said Karin Norington-Reaves, CEO of The Partnership, the head of the collective of local organizations. She said workers will get training at the beginning and will receive follow-up training throughout the project.

“One of the things that we’ve talked about is creating trauma informed care and self care support for the contact tracers. Because you’re going to be hearing stories from folks who are food insecure, housing insecure, employment insecure. So you’ve got to have some level of empathy and ability to have strong interpersonal skills and strong communication skills.”

She added “we will give them all the training that they need with respect to epidemiology, with respect to they will go through an actual certification.”

Norington-Reaves said that workers will receive contact tracing certification.

“It’s a 12-hour program. I should also add that we are doing every six weeks professional development, so that we’re refreshing their skills and then layering on additional skills. So as long as folks are coming to us with some basic, basic capacity for interpersonal communication, we will then add upon the skills that they need and develop them to really be.”

Prospective tracers can register at It’s a portal created for the program. Hiring will begin immediately.

Below is a list of the organizations chosen to participate:

 Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Inc.

 Lawrence Hall

 Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council

 Leave No Veteran Behind

 Breakthrough Urban Ministries, Inc.

 Metropolitan Family Services

 Brothers Health Collective

 National Able Network

 Calumet Area Industrial Commission

 New Pisgah Community Service Organization

 Centers for New Horizons

 North Lawndale Employment Network

 Central States SER

 Phalanx Family Services

 Community Assistance Programs

 Puerto Rican Cultural Center

 Envision Community Services, Inc.

 Safer Foundation

 Goodwill Industries of Metropolitan Chicago

 SGA Youth and Family Services

 Greater West Town Community Development Project

 South Side Help Center

 Habilitative Systems, Inc.

 Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP)

 Instituto del Progreso Latino/
Institute for Latino Progress

 St. Sabina Employment Resource Center

 KLEO Community Family Center

 The Resurrection Project

 Latino Resource Institute of IL

 Westside Health Authority

 YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago

Source: CBS Chicago | News Colony

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