A leading non-profit in Madison County is the Urban League. The organization offers emergency financial aid for rent, prescriptions and utility bills, however the focus of the agency is on job training and employment services.
Outreach specialists from the agency will coordinate an assessment process. Based on the results of that, the client will be referred to the services that best meet their needs. This can include everything from emergency grants for expenses such as rent to job placement or even self-sufficiency services such as credit counseling.
Throughout this process, community outreach specialists at MCUL’s family resource center help people from the Madison County region access social services. These staff members use information culled from discussions with clients to recommend resources that the family may need to address their current condition. Outreach specialists make referrals to these various assistance programs in the Madison region and community-based services for which they may qualify.
Housing is an essential part of Madison County Urban League programs, and the agency has been certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) since the early 1980s. Individuals and families who are homeless, at risk of foreclosure or evictions can turn to the agency for support. There are programs such as emergency solutions grant or the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program that may be able to help. They often work by stabilizing clients by quickly finding funds to pay their overdue expenses or another option is locating new, low income housing for them to reside in.
MCUL also works to prevent foreclosures as well in Illinois. The organization provides mortgage delinquency counseling to homeowners who are behind on their payments and facing foreclosure. This service offers people from the community with education and advocacy in an effort to help them bring their mortgage payments up to date and avoid foreclosure.
Heating bill assistance and other utility bills can be paid by the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. This is available in Madison, and it offers direct financial assistance in the form of government grants to help low-income households afford the cost of heating and cooling their homes. In order to qualify for LIHEAP, the applicant’s energy bills must be in the name of an individual who is a member of an eligible household.
Emergency services are available to low income or working poor families on an as-needed basis. Madison County Urban League family development advocates provide financial aid or short term loans for their rent payments, prescription medications, utility expenses and other needs. Emergency services are funded by donations and community support.
Another resource from MCUL is the local family-planning clinic. This is a site that provides comprehensive services to men and women. The clinic has been in operation for more than 30 years, and has assisted thousands of people since then. Staff members advise clients on family-planning methods and offer laboratory services, private counseling, physical examinations, education and outreach.
Educational programs are available in the region as well. These were designed by the Urban League to empower young persons and people trying to better themselves. The program includes tutorial and nutritional-awareness services, as well as transportation for students to school or other classes. Madison County Urban League also works to engage parents in their children’s education.
The agency operates a GED program that features free, individualized tutoring. There are a series of workshops and classes held throughout the year, and MCUL offers financial assistance for GED testing services as well. Individuals who obtain these degree improve employment opportunities and can pursue higher education.
The organization also provides free employment services at its job and career centers to connect employers with community residents who are looking for work. These locations offer a direct link to local resources to help job seekers of all ages secure employment, and it will be ideally a full time position.
Staff members work with clients to create employment action plans and direct clients to training and educational resources. Workshops are offered to provide support during job searches, and training services include entry-level courses, English-as-a-second-language classes, and also certificate programs.
Some employers or non-profits from the region also allow on-the-job training, and this may be available as well. Other services include application and résumé preparation, job recruitment and referrals, career exploration, pre-screening and counseling, and practice or mock interviews.
These various Urban League services are available on an individualized or small-group basis. The job and career centers also allow clients to use computers for free, printers and fax machines, and provide access to electronic job listings and information on careers and high-demand occupations.
Moreover, MCUL hosts dedicated job fairs across Madison County. The organization collaborates with community-based businesses in an effort to recruit a target population for the specific sponsoring business. They also sponsor general job fairs to give community residents the opportunity to connect with a variety of businesses, organizations and government agencies.
The Urban League has a couple offices in Madison County. For more information regarding any of services, contact 502 Madison Avenue, Madison, Illinois 62060 and can be reached by phone at (618) 877-8860. Another office can be found at 408 East Broadway, P.O. Box 8093, Alton, Illinois 62002. This office’s phone number is (618) 463-1906.
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