our history

Established as an industrial area in the mid-1800s, Pilsen has long been a thriving immigrant community. As the population evolved from Bohemian to Polish to predominately Mexican, the community retained its working-class roots. However, during the past ten years, significant development has occurred in the area, leading many Pilsen residents to fear that the forces of gentrification would soon displace the thriving community they had worked so hard to build.

In 1998, as the University of Illinois-Chicago expanded southward and the City of Chicago created the Pilsen Industrial Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District, local leaders recognized the need to organize. They hosted a Community Congress for Pilsen residents, community-based organizations, and businesses to develop a strategic plan for community preservation.

The creation of the Pilsen Alliance was part of that plan and the organization is now responsible for convening an open community congress every two years. The Pilsen Alliance has achieved considerable victories in the communities of Pilsen, Marshall Square, Little Village, North Lawndale and Cicero.



The Pilsen Alliance successfully fought to prevent the closure of four schools in Pilsen.

We worked with community residents and environmental justice groups to help force the shut down of Fisk Coal Power Plant in Pilsen.



Led anti-gentrification efforts in the community to address gentrification and displacement.

Received the Barbara Grau Award for Excellence Housing Justice Advocacy work.



Youth led effort to help remove School Resource Officers (SRO) from Benito Juarez Academy

Helped lead Stop Pilsen Landmark Coalition to defeat the Pilsen Landmark Ordinance proposed by Department of Planning and Development (DPD).

Provided emergency rental assistance for over 50 families in Pilsen and the near west side and southwest side communities of Chicago. 

Partnered with groups like Femme Defensa to help provide foodboxes, PPE and other essential mutual aid items.

Our Visual History