Health Leads (formerly Project HEALTH)

Brief Agency Overview

Founded in 1996, Health Leads now has Family Help Desks located in 22 pediatric outpatient clinics, prenatal and newborn clinics, community health centers, pediatric emergency rooms and health department clinics in Boston, Providence, New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

Health Leads' Chicago Family Help Desks launched in 2006 and are staffed by undergraduate volunteers who connect patients to food, housing, job training, fuel assistance, legal advocacy, child care and other key government and community resources. Family Help Desks are currently located at La Rabida Children’s Hospital and Chicago Family Health Center.

Grant Summary

In January of 2009, Health Leads was awarded a $35,000 grant to hire a manager for the Chicago Family Health Desks, to support volunteer's casework, and to begin the process of creating and implementing systems at each Family Help Desk to support systematic screening and referral of each clinic’s vulnerable patients. 

Grant Amount


Grant Goals

  • To increase client volume
  • To provide 1,400 low-income families with assistance in assessing community resources
  • To recruit, screen, and train 57 volunteers
  • To promote provider referrals to the Family Help Desk through formal screening and referral mechanisms 


  • Since receiving the 2009 grant from Michael Reese Health Trust, overall client volume is up 205%
  • Health Leads provided information and assistance to 613 clients
  • Recruited, screened, and trained 71 volunteers (125% of their goal for the year)
  • Increased the rate of physician referral from 10% to 22%, a 120% increase
  • During this grant period 52% of families with whom volunteers successfully maintained contact have obtained at least one needed resource within 90 days of visiting the help desk (a 33% increase from 2007)
  • During the current grant year, project staff worked with staff at Friend Family Health Center to develop a tool that physicians use to screen patients and family members for a variety of social needs; this should increase physician referrals in the years to come 

Contact Info

Vanessa Askot, Executive Director
Health Leads Chicago
La Rabida Children’s Hospital
6501 S. Promontory Drive
Chicago, IL 60649

Ph: 773-256-5746