José Rico



Chief Partnership & Initiatives Officer

United Way of Metro Chicago


Jose Rico serves as Chief Partnership & Initiatives Officer at United Way of Metro Chicago. He joined United Way in 2015 to lead the organization’s community impact work in education, income, health and basic needs support. In addition, he oversees engagement with community partners, directs investment, and manages measurement and evaluation.

As a steward of United Way’s Neighborhood Network model of delivering highly coordinated and concentrated services in underserved communities, Jose wholly embodies our mission to build strong neighborhoods.

An immigrant of southwest Mexico, Jose once longed for a sense of home in his new land. He’s since found it in Chicago, where he has, in turn, invested his passion and energy to transforming lives through relationship-building between neighbors and community stakeholders. He envisions strong neighborhoods to be communities where residents can not only find the tools necessary to get out of crises, but to also thrive and find a sense of hope and belonging.

Prior to his tenure at United Way, Jose was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics. He was integral in developing Promise Neighborhood grants that support cradle-to-career programming in underinvested neighborhoods across the country. He was also a founding principal at Multicultural Arts School at the Little Village/Lawndale High School Campus, and he directed community organizing at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Jose earned his undergraduate degree in community development at Northeastern University and a graduate degree in educational leadership at The University of Illinois.

He lives in the Little Village neighborhood, where he’s co-parenting his two sons and daughter. He enjoys reading, house music, travelling and cheering on the Chicago White Sox alongside his children.

Check out our presenter Q&A with José.

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