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Chicago Village Project

Meet Auburn Gresham's John F. Kennedy, founder of The Chicago Village Project —his plan is to teach young people how to use their interests to become "solopreneurs."

"Changing mindsets is one thing, but that doesn't satisfy the primary force that pulls people to the
streets: lack of money."

This is a story about the Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. 

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701 Hits

Acknowledging Harm, Recognizing Pain

2018 Safe & Peaceful grantee holds a summit dedicated to truth & forgiveness 

Bringing together a diverse audience of people who have been touched by violence as a victim, committer or observer, the Truth & Reconciliation Summit was a moving, daylong event that highlighted the power of acknowledging harm as the first step toward recovering from its lasting effects.

Produced by the Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Practices, with funding support from the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, the Summit attracted nearly 100 guests, from justice-involved youth to octogenarians.

Lisa Daniels founded the Center in the memory of her son, a victim of gun violence whose murder propelled her into victim advocacy work.Vowing to not allow the circumstances of her son's death to forever define his legacy, Daniels has worked to provide grief and support counseling to families, called for understanding around sentences for youth offenders, and recently accepted a gubernatorial appointment to the Illinois Prison Reform Board.

At the July 20 summit, she said told the audience that she hoped that "this is not the last day that you'll come together and be forever changed."

Heavily inspired by the forgiveness work of South African cleric and theologian Bishop Desmond Tutu, the event featured a panel discussion of people personally affected by violence; a peace circle experience; mindfulness yoga; celebratory music portions; and a closing session during which individuals apologized publicly for harms their systems, or they themselves, had caused. Below are excerpts of some of the apologies.

Chicago Police Department sergeant

"Policing is what I do. It's my profession, a needed profession. [But] while being a police officer, I get a chance to show my many hats, as a deacon, a grandson and husband and a father…. I understand the history of the police department. [I offer] apologies for what has happened in the past…and in the present, apparently…but I can be a part of the solution. I can actually make a difference. I am a part of the community.

As a deacon in this community, I have failed. I have said on numerous occasions that the problem we're having in our community is the people of faith [are] failing to open our doors to people who need resources, who need a prayer, who need a listening ear."

School principal

"I am a coach, mentor, mother, sister. Our education system has failed our kids, and I do apologize for that. We have to change that, and that's through our vote. We can change the system: Our kids deserve it."

Law Office of Cook County Public Defender attorney

"I am a Chicago Public School high-school graduate. A suburban resident. A single parent. A widow. I apologize for the lack of using our [legal] voice publicly on the abuse of power….We are now joining our voices with others to create an awareness of the reality that many face in their interactions with the authorities. We are committed to change.

We have licensed attorneys and paralegals who will be available to any individual detained in any county police station; once a call is placed, one of the attorneys will be there to help an individual assert his or her rights. Communities must know that we are available and help us spread our telephone number. The Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender is committed to systemic change, to using our voice." (Editorial note: The assistance phone number is 844-817-4448.)

Justice-involved youth

"I apologize to the public [and ask you to] keep the word 'hope' in your mind."

Corrections professional

"I apologize for our system — for our incarceration of African-American males, the mentally ill, the homeless. We have not corrected the problem, and many times, we've made it worse. Lots of lessons learned over the years, but sometimes as a system, we've repeated the same mistake, the same mistake, the same mistake. I will commit to being a part of a systems change with what God's given me."

Homeless service provider

"I apologize for homelessness in our city, our state and our country, for every person who has no place to lay their head tonight. I apologize for being in a service industry for 25 years and still not resolving the issue of homelessness. I am committing to staying in this fight to ending homelessness, not only in this state, but in this state and in this county."

African-American male youth worker

"I apologize to LGBT…young black men and not taking the time to get educated on the diversity of black men."

African-American male

"I apologize to children who have been neglected, exposed to violence, alcohol, drugs…for seeing other people engaged in behaviors and activities who asked me for advice, but because I didn't want [to] push back, I chose to keep quiet. I apologize for keeping quiet when I should have spoken up. For misogyny…for propagating the idea that women are weaker than men or less capable than men. I promise to get up and admit my own errors as opposed to pointing the finger."

Caucasian male

"I'm a white guy.I apologize that where I live people don't care enough. I apologize that I helped with donations but didn't care enough until I lost my own son. I apologize that the communities are dealing with the problems the best that they can and that some of the other institutions are not doing everything they can, and we all know when someone's not doing everything they can.

[I apologize] That not a lot of people are afraid to come down to some of the areas where there is a lot of crime. I apologize that "P people" – privileged people – just don't care enough. And in my late, belated efforts, I'm going to do everything I can to make people care and understand."

This is a story about the Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. 

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487 Hits

What Do Youth Have to Do With It?

Thomas Hurley, Assistant Superintendent of Operations for the Department of Juvenile Justice, expounds on the necessity of engaging youth offenders, and former youth offenders, in the development of safer, peaceful communities

Every youth has a parent, two parents (whether they be engaged with them or not) — they're somebody's son, somebody's daughter, and we need to treat all youth the same way, like they're our kids.

How do we get them going in a different direction? I think sometimes the thing we take for granted is the trauma that these young people have incurred. Sometimes we look at them as bad kids, and they're really wounded, broken, hurt. And we need to help to repair that, have that level of concern, of care, no matter what their mistakes, no matter what their situation.

I think we've got to get them to a place where they desire to repair the harm that they've done to the community: acknowledging it first, understanding that they did harm, and then, how they repair that harm.

That's a collective effort. It's going to take that whole-village perspective to accomplish what we need to accomplish, and bring peace to our communities and streets.

The reality is that a very comprehensive approach is needed, so whether someone is in custody, in the community, a perpetrator of a crime at some point in their lives, or Joe Citizen, everybody needs to be engaged in this process…

It's everybody's problem, it's everybody's issue, it should be everybody's concern.

Hurley was interviewed at the Truth & Reconciliation Summit, an event hosted by 2018 Safe & Peaceful Chicago grantee the Darren B. Easterling Foundation 

This is a story about the Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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432 Hits

Guardians of Garfield Park

A couple finds divine purpose in serving and safeguarding the children in their neighborhood

Victoria and Daniel Allen have a classic love story: 25 years ago they met in church as young adults, became best friends, got married and grew their family. But their desire to build a loving home for children didn't stop at their doorstep — it extended to their Garfield Park community, where for the past 18 years, they've led Divine Purpose Youth Performing Arts Center (DPYPAC), a 501c3 organization.

DPYPAC's mission is to support young people who have dreams related to the arts, dance and music; the organization positions participants to realize those dreams through academic tutoring and character-building education that emphasizes strong relationships with peers and family. The Allens are unique because they tap into the students' creativity and energy to shape DPYPAC offerings; being connected to children lives in their souls.

"I've always had a passion for children, even when I was a child. I always brought kids home, combed hair and gave away clothes, doing anything that I could do to try to help someone else. My husband has such a big heart for youth, too, and so we just shared our dreams and our ideas," Victoria says. "When it came to forming DPYPAC, he said we need to go for it."

Each weekday during the school year, DPYPAC picks up 45-50 students from five elementary schools, provides snacks, and then sends the kids to performing arts classes or helps with their homework. Older students receive support, too. Three days a week, Daniel Allen, a music teacher and Chicago Police Department 11th District sergeant, manages Beyond Rhythm and Rhyme, an initiative for boys (14–18 years old) established through After School Matters. It taps into the teens' interest in rapping and affords Daniel a platform to talk with them about their broader dreams and goals.

Other weekdays, DPYPAC is running Safe Haven After School Program, where enrollees play video games, or write and listen to music in a studio, letting the teens interface with the recording equipment and learn engineering skills

"We just let them 'do them.' If it's going to keep them safe and off the street, it's no problem," Victoria says.

Nestled in a Garfield Park building (shared with two other nonprofits: United for Better Living, who collaborates with DPYPAC to run the Safe Haven After School Program, and Fathers Who Care), DPYPAC is in its 10th year of year-round programming. It recently opened summer camp registration, giving working parents five weeks of daylong, structured and engaging activities for $150 per child — Victoria acknowledges that the rate is well below market yet affirms that DPYPAC intentionally set it to be as affordable as possible for Garfield Park families.

"(This is) one of the best jobs that I've ever had, but the hardest job (too). It's such a struggle financially, sometimes you just want to throw your hands up and say, 'Lord, I tried,'" Victoria confides."But then, when I look back at them (the children), I keep fighting. I keep going when I see them come through the doors and (receive) the little hugs, all that. I say, 'OK, God, something has got to happen.'"

May 5th, something is happening: The organization will host a pre-Mother's Day fashion show and luncheon fundraiser : open to the public, $15 donation, and guests will see DPYPAC youth perform, model and dance with their moms.

"We started off doing this at the local park, before we moved to our own facility — we have young people who are now college students, married and have children," Victoria triumphs."I must say that it's just a blessing to see all of these young people doing well: working, taking care of families…it's good to see that we had a big part in that."

For tickets to the Mother's Day event, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This is a story about the Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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1038 Hits

Margaret's Village Block Party Builds Strong Sense of Community

 By Kimberly Rudd, a writer with Rudd Resources

This is an excerpt of a post from The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities blog.

Margaret's Village Development Director Geri Kerger paused to catch her breath. She had been in the midst of describing the activities – the many, many activities – that comprised her organization's September Safe and Peaceful Chicago block party, and the list had become so long that she needed to take a moment to fill her lungs with fresh air to continue.

"Alderman Roderick Sawyer opened the event, and representatives from the Mayor's Office and State Senator Jacqueline Collins' office addressed the crowd of more than 150," she began. "Activist Andrew Holmes gathered the children around and gave a compassionate demonstration on staying safe walking to school. Chauncey Harrison from Teamwork Englewood, a frequent collaborator with Margaret's Village, presented information on the advocacy his group offers." She went on, mentioning the involvement of the Chicago Police Department, the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, the Jesse White Tumblers and others.

For Margaret's Village, a full-service social agency in the city's Englewood community, days like this don't happen often. While the agency has planned health fairs for some 15 years, it had never before hosted an event centered on the subject of peace. The grant from the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities made it possible.

"We want people to re-think what's normal. Nonviolence is normal," says Kerger.

Read the full post.

This is a story about the Promote Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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Everyone who cares deeply about Chicago’s future can play a role.

If you are an employer, you can hire young people at risk. If you are a community leader, you can help improve police-community relations. If you are a health care provider, you can support trauma-informed care to gun violence victims. If you are a funder, you can support any one of these efforts. Whatever you do, your voice matters when you speak up in support of policies that can make our neighborhoods safer. Reach out to learn more.

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