The AEOC provides support, advocacy and economic equity development to North Aurora through the following programs:
Dayton Street Day Labor Center
Providing support and advocacy to day laborers, primarily immigrants and refugees at high risk of exploitation, wage theft and dangerous work environments. The AEOC organizes skill-building workshops for participants on topics related to workers’ rights and advocacy, work/life skills, English classes and wage theft protection. With the onset of COVID-19, demand for day laborers has significantly declined. The AEOC has pivoted from workforce development and employment services to providing basic needs for workers and their families, including access to health care, emergency financial assistance and food. The center serves over 300 day laborers annually.
El Alba Catering Services
El Alba serves as a business cooperative, owned and operated by immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs. It offers commercial kitchen space and culturally competent business support for residents who want to open food-based businesses. Both programs serve primarily immigrants, refugees and people of color in North Aurora. Through El Alba, the AEOC supports economic empowerment, employment and the continued redevelopment of empty and blighted commercial buildings in North Aurora.
AEOC plays a critical role in facilitating collaboration between the City of Aurora, Aurora Police Department and residents of North Aurora. Results include improved communication and trust between communities of color and law enforcement, a reduction in crime, and improved policies that are humane and just.
The AEOC is working to expand its services to the community of North Aurora through a community-mapping project. Currently there is a void in community organizing to prevent gentrification and harmful development of the area for residents. Little information is known about property inventory and land use.
The AEOC will work in partnership with the City and residents to develop a report and plan that enables grassroots development. The overall goal of the project is to preserve the rich diversity of North Aurora and build wealth in immigrant and refugee communities. Specific goals are to:
1) Develop a comprehensive map of North Aurora that reveals property inventory, property owners, low use areas and vacant land;
2) Organize one voice for the community that advocates for organic growth and small business development;
3) Create economic incentives for entities to invest in North Aurora. Projected outcomes of the project are small business development, community activation and planned development for North Aurora.
The AEOC is working to engage a community-mapping partner who will conduct the report. Per recommendations from the Gates Family Foundation, the AEOC will reach out to UC Denver Masters of Urban and Regional Planning program, SHIFT Resource Lab, Mile High Connects, and Gary Community Investments for this portion of the project. A Community Engagement Specialist will be hired to inform the public, gather input and establish a vision for the community. A Public Officials Engagement Specialist will be hired to work closely with the City of Aurora, City Council Members and other elected officials to ensure they are involved throughout all stages of the project. This could be one contractor based upon level of experience of candidates. The mapping study, community outreach and plan development will take place over a six-month period starting in February 2021. The goal is to present a report the City Council in the fall of 2021.