Chicago Korean American groups form unified organization to boost social services and organizing, push back against White House policies
February 8, 2017
Hana Center will serve more than 15,000 community members on Chicago's North Side and the Northwest Suburbs
CHICAGO (February 8, 2017) - As immigrant communities in Chicago and across the country organize against the new White House administration's anti-immigrant policy initiatives, two major organizations in the Korean American community announced today they have merged into one large organization to more effectively serve Chicago-area immigrants and community members.
Korean American Community Services (KACS) and Korean American Resource and Cultural Center (KRCC) have merged to form the Hana Center.
The organization will have a combined annual budget of more than $2.5 million, 43 staff members, and will serve an estimated 15,000 Korean, Asian, Latino, and multiethnic youth and immigrants.
The Hana Center, which will be headquartered at 4300 N. California in Chicago's North Side Horner Park community, will offer wide-ranging programs including childcare, youth empowerment for teens and college students, mental health counseling, job placement, health care access, and subsidized senior housing. It will also be the community's organizing and advocacy organization, advancing policies at every level of government to improve the quality of life and safety of immigrants.
Both organizations have a long history of serving the Korean American community, estimated at more than 80,000 people in the Chicago area, as well as Latinos and a range of other immigrant populations.
KACS, the oldest and largest Korean American Social Service agency, faithfully served the community for more than four decades; and KRCC was a key driver of advocacy and organizing in the community since its founding in 1995 by a group of low-income, recent immigrant youth.
"By merging with KACS to become this new, strong organization, the Hana Center, we can grow our base and our capacity to protect the rights of immigrant communities and drive a pro-immigrant policy agenda that keeps our families safe and healthy," said KRCC Executive Director Inhe Choi, who will now serve as Hana Center's inaugural Executive Director. "These two organizations have long worked in concert to serve our community. We are proud to unite and stand stronger than ever in this moment."
"Hana means One in Korean and our vision for the name of the new organization is to convey and demonstrate unity," said Arnold Park, Hana's board president. The launch of the new organization is funded in part by foundations including the Chicago Community Trust, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Polk Bros Foundation, the Chicago Foundation for Women and the Woods Fund of Chicago.
"The Hana Center will represent the diverse interests of all people, including women, youth, immigrants, people of color, the poor, the elderly, LGBTQ+, and adoptees from our combined organizations," said Inchul Choi, who has served as Executive Director of KACS since 2007. "By combining our resources, we can accomplish more for our community together than we can by ourselves." This merger is Choi's legacy project as he moves on to independent consulting.
The new organization officially opened its doors to the community on February 1, and will hold an open house and celebratory reception on March 3 at 10AM.
The Hana Center is an affiliate of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC). NAKASEC is the national network of the Hana Center (Chicago), Korean Resource Center (Los Angeles & Orange County), and NAKASEC Virginia (Annandale).