Thirty-two years ago, Kwadwo Antwi-Mensah was a foreign student struggling to find employment while breaking cultural barriers. The African American Christian Foundation (AACF) was born out of a dream. The founder of this organization, Dr. Kwadwo Antwi-Mensah, had a dream in which he saw himself sitting in a church with a choir that was singing beautifully. The people in this church were dressed in colorful clothes. On waking, Dr. Antwi-Mensah felt an intense desire to put a group together to study the Bible and sing to make his dream come true.
Acting on his dream, he called a few friends and sent out invitations for a Bible study. The first meeting was held on January 5, 1985 and was attended by a few Ghanaian couples. The group then decided to meet once a month to engage in Bible studies, followed by educational and civic lectures given by community and industry leaders. The group grew and moved from Dr. Antwi-Mensah’s home to the local park district and, later to an office in Chicago on the corner of Madison Street and Austin Avenue. AACF was incorporated as a non-for-profit organization in July of 1985.
Dr. Antwi-Mensah saw a need, and began to assist and place in jobs and internships newly immigrated Ghanaians in the Chicago land area, who were highly educated but unable to find jobs due to cultural and language barriers. For the first nine years, the foundation received no public funds, and Kwadwo worked to complete his education and did any work he could find to subsidize the work of the foundation. In 1994, with the expertise of Dr. Clifton Woods, AACF received funding needed to provide job training and placement services to unemployed and low income adults in the Cook County area. Loraine Wilson-Grace became the first Program Director and under her leadership, the organization expanded to serve the younger youths in Cook County. In 2010, AACF began to focus on low income opportunity youths ages 16 to 24 years of age in need of job placement and job training.
Finding work is the crux of the AACF’s program offering. Clients undergo assessment, testing, then complete workshops in job readiness to qualify for job training in three areas: customer service, digital manufacturing, and certified nursing assistant.
Approximately 80 percent of participants in our job training program secure job placement, and, with it, the foundation to support stability and self-sufficiency
Thanks to our innovative training offerings, AACF has become a community leader in the Cook County workforce development space. We are committed to helping our program participants achieve their occupational goals and prosper.
- 2018 Selected by the IL Dept. of Human Services Work First to provide training and skills participants need to gain and retain employment
- 2017 Approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health to Provide CNA Training
- 2012 Awarded funds by the Chicago-Cook Workforce Partnership to increase our workforce development program capacity and job training services.
- 2011 Received an award from the Illinois Department of Human Services to enhance our youth supportive services and expand workforce development program
- 2009 Moved into our permanent headquarters in Oak Park Illinois
- 2006 Awarded Community Partnership by Aspire of Illinois for teaching computers skills to Aspire clients
- 2003 Certified by the Illinois State of Board of Higher Education
- 2002 Awarded funds from the IT Resource Center (now Lumity) to established a community technology Center
- 1995 Awarded JTPA funds to establish a workforce development program
- 1985 Established and incorporated as an Illinois nonprofit organization.