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​Boxville is an initiative of Urban Juncture; it sits at the foot of the 51st Street Green Line stop, a station that's part of the Elevated Chicago Green Line South stretch. With its Safe & Peaceful Chicago grant, Urban Juncture is expanding Boxville, creating a community gathering "box" (i.e. reconstituted train cars) among the other retail-rooted "boxes" - this initiative continues the transformation of a once-empty lot into a vibrant community square, expanding the station's footprint, making for an attractive corner that spreads good throughout the neighborhood.

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The Alliance 98

David Rojas, a co-founder of The Alliance 98 (TA98), was recently featured on an episode of ChiPedia, a WGN Radio podcast hosted by Marsha Lyles. TA98 is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that works to reduce unemployment among young adults through training and job readiness initiatives.

Rojas talked about how the grant awarded to TA98 will benefit Suited for a Cause, its initiative to boost young job-seekers' confidence by providing them with business attire and critical soft skills. He was joined on the podcast by program officers Tawa Mitchell (of the MacArthur Foundation) and Anna Lee (of the Chicago Community Trust), both of whom serve on the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities committee that reviewed more than 300 applications for funding.

This year, The Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities awarded 132 grants.

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Promoting Peace Through Professional Outreach

metropolitanpeaceacademy-27 Metropolitan Peace Academy graduation ceremony

The Metropolitan Peace Academy, the first of its kind in Chicago, is a multidisciplinary training platform designed to professionalize street outreach. Participants complete a rigorous 144-hour, 18-week curriculum focused on street outreach, nonviolence, trauma-informed services and restorative justice. The Peace Academy's inaugural class graduated in June 2018.

The Peace Academy is part of Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P). Organized by Metropolitan Family Services, CP4P is a collective led by eight of Chicago's top street outreach organizations working to provide a comprehensive, long-term approach to reducing violence and gang activity in Chicago. Organizations include the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago (INVC), Precious Blood, Target Area Development Corp., Cure Violence, Breakthrough Urban Ministries, the Alliance of Local Service Organizations (ALSO), New Life Centers and UCAN.

Recent news coverage of the Metropolitan Peace Academy:

Metropolitan Peace Academy works to reduce Chicago Violence
On ABC 7's Windy City Live, Communities Partnering 4 Peace Program Director Vaughn Bryant discusses the Metropolitan Peace Academy's work in bringing together street outreach workers to professionalize the field, alongside Peace Academy graduate Chris Patterson of the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, who shares how his experience with incarceration led to his current work in violence prevention.

A New 'Peace Academy' Is Teaching Violence Prevention Workers How To Stop The Shootings
Block Club Chicago's Lee Edwards explores the Metropolitan Peace Academy - and its role in reducing community violence - through one of its graduates, Rodney Phillips of Target Area Development Corp. in Englewood. Dr. Troy Harden, lead curriculum developer for the Peace Academy, and Ric Estrada, CEO at Metropolitan Family Services, speak to the Peace Academy's methods and its role in Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P).

Why Chicago's violence interrupters need their own training academy
Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P) Program Director Vaughn Bryant and Institute for Nonviolence Chicago Program Manager Chris Patterson discuss the need for and importance of the Metropolitan Peace Academy for the Crain's Chicago Business/PSPC "Building Peace" series on approaches to reducing violence in the city; the Peace Academy engages violence prevention workers in a training program designed to professionalize the field of street outreach.

This story is about the Street Outreach, Support Services and Jobs strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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The Original 64th Street Drummers

 A decades-old Chicago institution, Safe and Peaceful grantee The Original 64th Street Drummers brought drum circles to neighborhoods across the city as a means to promote peace. This summer, the collective performed a weekly concert in a vacant lot in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood. "Drumming brings command, and it also brings calm. You can use any open air space to create your best, to bring peace and eradicate violence," says Juliet Jones. 

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Former Death Row Inmate Sought to Keep the Peace

Derrick House, a former gang leader in the 1970s and 1980s, returned to Chicago after 20 years in prison and became a committed violence interrupter in West Garfield Park and Austin with The Institute for Nonviolence. He passed away of natural causes June 20, at 52, and he is remembered for saving lives and becoming a mentor to young people in his community.

In 2017, the Tribune followed House as he worked the Austin neighborhood, his phone constantly ringing as gang shootings popped around him. In a video, House voices frustration over his work being undermined by endless shootings.

"It's hard, because you doing so much right and you see so much wrong. You like, 'Damn, when we gonna catch a break here?'" House said at the time.

He became a big brother to troubled teens and a father figure to scores of children, starting an annual Father's Day picnic in Garfield Park and gathering school supplies for children. He would drive residents to jobs in the suburbs until they could get their own transportation, and he helped young men with criminal cases understand the system and complete paperwork.

"He wore a lot of hats," said Seaton, who knew House since the 1980s and called him the "Mayor of Chicago Avenue" because of the influence he wielded.

This is a post related to the Street Outreach, Support Services and Jobs strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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With High-Tech Help, There's Been Less Bloodshed in Chicago This Year

Better relationships between police, anti-violence workers, residents, and community-based organizations has helped reduce violence in Chicago. Technology is also boosting the impact, with Strategic Decision Support Centers embedded in Chicago police districts that use predictive software to help police respond more quickly and proactively to shootings. In Englewood, using the technology in partnership with other community policing strategies has reduced shootings and homicides dramatically, the Chicago Tribune reports, but results continue to be mixed on the West Side of the city.

(Chicago Police Department Cmdr. Kenneth) Johnson does credit some of the reduction in violence over the first half to inroads that officers have made with anti-violence outreach workers and citizens in the communities who long distrusted the police.

Still, he acknowledged that fully winning over the community will take a lot more time.

"This trust, it's not an easily won thing," he said. "Trust is easily broken and very difficult to win."

For many years, Bishop Vesta Dixon, pastor of Evening Star Missionary Baptist Church in West Englewood, said he invited police without success to a back-to-school event. Last summer two officers attended.

Dixon said the contact promises to help break down barriers and fears — on both sides.

"Let them see you, not with your gun out, not stopping them," Dixon said in his 59th Street office. "But see you as a friend."

This is a post related to the Street Outreach, Support Services and Jobs strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. 

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Everyone can help build peace in our city


This is the fifth of the Building Peace series in Crain's Chicago Business. It was written by Asiaha Butler, co-founder and president of Resident Association of Greater Englewood (RAGE), and Deborah Bennett, senior program officer for Polk Bros. Foundation.

In the first weeks of last summer, Asiaha Butler's block in Englewood saw a rash of shootings. Instead of running away, she and neighbors stayed and stood for peace.

They transformed a lot they previously reclaimed into a space of healing and peace. They hosted pop-up block parties throughout the summer where small children, teens and families could enjoy each other's company without looking over their shoulders for bullets. They responded to sporadic episodes of violence with sporadic acts of peace. Through small steps, they transformed and stabilized their block.

Butler's grassroots group of concerned residents, business owners, students, parents and grandparents in Englewood is called the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, or RAGE. Organizations like RAGE are making our city's communities stronger. Strong communities deter violence. Neighbors look out for each other, elders aren't afraid of young people and public spaces are safe. This just makes sense. It's also supported by recent research. New York University Sociologist Patrick Sharkey concluded that residents and community organizations have the capacity to control violence.

RAGE is one of 132 neighborhood organizations that received $850,000 in grants of $1,000 to $10,000 from Chicago's Partnership for Safe & Peaceful Communities because of this deterrence capacity. These grants are part of the partnership's broader $40 million investment in violence reduction strategies.

The full text of the article is here.

Part One: Chicago Funders on Gun Violence: 'We Do Not Have Time to Waste'

Part Two: Think Illinois Has the Country's Toughest Gun Laws? Think Again

Part Three: Can Jobs Plus Therapy for At-Risk Men Cut Gun Violence?

Part Four: Why Chicago's violence interrupters need their own training academy

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

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Why Chicago's violence interrupters need their own training academy


This is the fourth of the Building Peace series in Crain's Chicago Business. It was written by Vaughn Bryan, the director of the umbrella group Communities Partnering 4 Peace and Chris Patterson, the program manager of organizing and outreach for the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago.

Social workers train for their jobs. So do teachers, ministers, medics and police officers. That training—and the respect that comes with it—is what we want for the men and women who counter violence every day through street outreach.

What is street outreach? Also known as violence interruption, it is high-stakes mediation in some of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods to diffuse dangerous situations, or head off retaliation when violence occurs. The work was highlighted in the 2011 documentary "The Interrupters."Many who do it belonged to gangs earlier in their lives. They are consummate mediators who build trusting relationships with perpetrators and victims, as well as their families, friends and broader community. Their work is indispensable for keeping peace in the city.

Yet police and outreach workers sometimeshave clashedbecause of fundamental misunderstandings about the role—and who fills it. Outreach workers can't function unless all parties see them as honest brokers, not police informants. Their impact and even their safety depends on it. But that need for distance means individual officers sometimes see outreach workers as the criminal they once were, not the skilled worker they are. Gang member in hiding, some think, just drawing a paycheck.

That friction hampers the potential effectiveness of street outreach and prevents it from scaling up. To help shift that dynamic, in January an umbrella group led by Metropolitan Family Services launched the Metropolitan Peace Academy: a 144-hour training program designed to professionalize the field of street outreach.

The full text of the article is here.

Part One:Chicago Funders on Gun Violence: 'We Do Not Have Time to Waste'

Part Two: Think Illinois Has the Country's Toughest Gun Laws? Think Again

Part Three:Can Jobs Plus Therapy for At-Risk Men Cut Gun Violence?

This story is about the Street Outreach, Support Services and Jobs strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.
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132 Organizations awarded grants for summer and fall programs

David Rojas, the founder of The Alliance 98 will use the $10,000 grant it received from the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities to remove barriers to employment for young people of color. The Alliance 98 is one of the 132 organizations that received grants to help reclaim public spaces and build community cohesion.

Rojas and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Program Officer Tawa Mitchell and Chicago Community Trust Program Officer Anna Lee discuss the grants awarded to help reduce gun violence and build bridges between the police and local communities on WGN Radio.

This is a post related to the Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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Reducing Gun Violence Is On Everyone’s Lips

By The Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities

With summer upon us, Chicago continues to address gun violence with comprehensive approaches that go beyond policing to include employment, education and political activism.

JP Morgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon and Chicago CRED Managing Director and former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan call on the business community to hire the formerly incarcerated who continue to face employment barriers. They write in the Tribune:

It is morally and economically bad for our country if we do not start removing barriers that prevent returning citizens from a shot at a better life after they have paid their debt to society. Business should be at the forefront of solving this challenge. Frankly, it's in our best interest to do so. If done correctly, we can create meaningful career opportunities for ex-offenders and tackle a hiring challenge for businesses too.

The Chicago Sun-Times wraps up its 31 Bullets Campaign with 31 concrete ideas for reducing gun violence. In a concluding editorial the paper issues a strongly-worded call to action:

We believe in the power of collective action to create a better society. There would no point in writing editorials about anything at all if we did not. We believe, that is to say, that the kids have got it right — walk out, demonstrate and stay angry. Remain the conscience of a nation. Collective action can change hearts and votes.

There's an election coming up. And we urge you to vote down every member of Congress and every state legislator who has opposed even modest gun law reforms. Our job in the coming months will be to single out the worst offenders for you. Your job will be to vote them out. Let's call that Bullet 32.

The Chicago Sun-Times also reports on the role that social media plays in fueling gang violence.

Gangs' embrace of social media to goad foes or conceal drug dealing in emoji-laden text is the biggest change in how gangs operate compared with 10 years ago, according to new law enforcement data provided exclusively to The Associated Press ahead of its release Tuesday by the Chicago Crime Commission. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other sites have radically altered gang culture in Chicago. They are having a similar influence on gangs nationwide.

WGN has a podcast focused on the 132 Safe and Peaceful Summer Fund grantees who are organizing neighborhood activities this summer to help reclaim parks, streets and public areas and build community cohesion.

US News and World Reports writes about a Chicago study linking educational underperformance to direct and indirect exposure to violence—i.e. "collateral damage."

"I think the results here show it's [violence] really everyone's problem," says Johns Hopkins sociologist Julia Burdick-Will. "If we really want to improve our schools, we need to deal with the crime problems, all the social problems in our cities, because it's not just the kids at schools in those neighborhoods that are affected, it's everyone."

Lastly, student gun safety activist Alex King, who just graduated from North Lawndale College Prep in Chicago, reflects on the power of students to drive change and keep our schools safer.

Soon, students like me will be taking our message of peace and nonviolence all across the country, starting with a Peace March in Chicago, at St. Sabina's Church on Friday, June 15. I'll be speaking about the resources our schools and communities need, like jobs and mental health services, to put an end to violence. We'll also be speaking about the nationwide solutions we need to the national problem of gun violence. I hope you'll be listening and taking action with me and other young people to create beloved and peaceful communities across the United States. 

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Homegrown Honor

Chatham art installation recognizes first responders where they live and serve

As a child, Nedra Sims Fears would take a sobering ride to a Joliet cemetery.

Her father, a police officer, was shot and killed in an armed robbery more than five decades ago. "Unfortunately, he was killed in the line of duty, and every Memorial Day we would get dressed up and go to the cemetery. I always felt that I wanted to honor him in the place where he lived and served; I think there's power in seeing how many people served before him," said Fears, executive director of the Greater Chatham Initiative.

This year, she finally didn't have to leave the neighborhood to honor him.

His name and years on watch — Osbourne Sims, 1954–1956 — can be found in a sea of 200 placards in the "We Honor You" art installation, erected in Brown Memorial Park, 634 E. 86th Street.

The memorial, which will be displayed annually, with plans to grow it each year, currently includes only a fraction of the "more than 1,600" firefighters, paramedics and police officers that are connected to that community, Fears said. "This was our attempt to start this annual event. We appreciate the first responders that are here because we know Memorial Day is a high-demand day for your service," she told those who attended the inauguration of the installation.

"It's important that we do it here, in this park in particular, because this park is named after a fallen firefighter," said Alderman Roderick Sawyer (6th ward). "I can't reiterate enough 'thank yous' for your service and what you do here every day. You're the ones that are walking into trouble when we're all trying to get out, so we honor and thank you, in particular, those of us who have lost ones in the line of duty, whether it be police, firefighters or paramedics, any one of those first responders."

Fourth District Police Officer Blanca Moya, who lives in her district, left her teaching position a little more than a year ago to become an officer. She found the "We Honor You" event to be a defining and definite reminder that what she does matters.

"This is amazing, just to see people who support the police. This is when it's like, 'It's worth what we're doing,'" she said, remarking that she hasn't regretted her decision at all. "I like working in my community. I love my job and I don't see the negative: I just see I get to help people, I see what I can do for them."

Scott Roberts, who lives in Hyde Park but whose childhood home is just a few blocks away from Brown Memorial Park, was blown away by the art installation.

"This is a fantastic idea; I like the idea of the accessibility to the community, and it's something other communities can do," he said. "And it doesn't just have to be on Memorial Day."

Editor's note: The Greater Chatham Initiative is making "We Honor You" an annual event; the next observance will be held May 18, 2019.

This is a post related to the Police Reform and Community Relations strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. 

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In hopes of stopping bloodshed, a multimillion-dollar effort is providing jobs, therapy to city's most violent

The brakes of the No. 52 Kedzie bus groaned to a stop about 8:30 a.m., and the doors swooshed open.

Corey Givens hopped on and settled into the middle of the bus, holding his backpack as he looked out the window.

Givens was disappointed he wasn't heading to his job in a work van that day but instead had to catch the bus to go to the branch courthouse at Grand and Central avenues on Chicago's Northwest Side. He faced a hearing on a misdemeanor charge for peddling weed, the less serious of his two pending criminal cases.

Such are the two worlds Givens is straddling — honest work with a steady paycheck in contrast with quick cash, violence and court dates.

Read the full story.

This story is about READI Chicago, one of several Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities strategies to address gun violence in Chicago. 

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Can jobs plus therapy for at-risk men cut gun violence?

This is the third article in our "Building Peace" series in Crain's Chicago Business posted June 7. It was written by Eddie Bocanegra, senior director of READI Chicago at Heartland Alliance, and Roseanna Ander, founding executive director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab.

Anthony, 22, is a father of two young children who lives with his mother and grandmother in Austin. He grew up there and followed the adult men in his life into the streets. He has been arrested for robbery and been shot multiple times. A felony charge for possessing a firearm landed him in prison, and he hasn't been able to find work since.

Anthony's story is all too familiar in Chicago. In 2016, guns killed 27.8 people out of 100,000 in the city, a rate seven times that of New York despite being a city one third the size. The University of Chicago Crime Lab estimates the financial toll of this violence at $4.4 billion, fueling population loss and increasing economic inequality. Though astronomical, this figure pales beside the devastation it causes for families and communities.

In response, Heartland Alliance, along with the University of Chicago Crime and Poverty Labs and seven community organizations, have begun the Rapid Employment & Development Initiative. READI Chicago, launched in fall 2017, is an ambitious, multiyear effort focused exclusively on helping individuals at highest risk of discharging a weapon or being the victim of violence. We connect these young people—most of whom are African-American men between 18 and 30—to transitional jobs, cognitive behavioral therapy and coaching. Why? Because evidence suggests that decisions that drive violence are often made in the moment and can be changed, and that transitional jobs and therapy can reduce involvement in violence.

The full text of the article is here.

Part One: Chicago Funders on Gun Violence: 'We Do Not Have Time to Waste'

Part Two: Think Illinois Has the Country's Toughest Gun Laws? Think Again

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Think Illinois has the country's toughest gun laws? Think again.


This is the second article in our "Building Peace" series in Crain's Chicago Business posted May 31. It was written by Nina Vinik, director of the Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform Program at the Joyce Foundation, and Phil Andrew, director of Violence Prevention Initiatives for the Archdiocese of Chicago. The first piece is here.

Chicago has a gun violence problem because Chicago, like America, has a gun problem.

Where there are more guns and weaker gun laws, there are more firearm deaths and injuries. America has more privately-owned guns per capita than any other country, and its gun homicide rate is 25 times higher than in other developed countries.

In Chicago, police take upward of 8,000 illegal guns off the streets every year. They confiscate the guns and arrest the offenders, but the flood of weaponry continues unabated. Police chiefs will tell you we can't arrest our way out of this problem, that we need to get serious about reducing the flow of guns. They're right.

We know that as many as 60 percent of the guns recovered by Chicago police come from other states with weak gun laws, chiefly Indiana, Wisconsin and Mississippi. But Illinois is not blameless. Our state law is virtually non-existent on regulating the flow of guns.

A Johns Hopkins study found that states regulating gun stores have reduced intrastate gun trafficking by 64 percent. Illinois voters strongly endorse such a move.

The full text of the article is here.

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PSPC Weekly Wrap-Up

Post-Parkland, the nation has mourned another mass school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas. For decades, children have been prey to harshest horrors of gun violence. In the wake of these continued tragedies, young people across the nation have moved to the forefront of protest to enact gun safety laws, but maybe it's time for another constituency to take the lead...if kids can't be safe in schools, perhaps parents can grab the mantle of gun safety protest by taking their children out of schools.

In Chicago, though, we're often looking for solutions against everyday violence (versus mass shootings). Employment is a key factor in keeping "Opportunity Youth" occupied so they avoid pitfalls and pressures, and police are exploring how to leverage cameras and other technologies to intervene in active situations before they are escalated. Additionally, medical entities are establishing themselves in the centers of communities that are experiencing heightened violence.

Shootings were down over the 2018 Memorial Day weekend, but we cannot, and should not, ever get comfortable. We're reminded to never relent in what has been dubbed "the killing season."

"We do not have time to waste." 

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Love in Lawndale

2018 Safe & Peaceful Chicago grantee Chi-Rise held a "Love in Lawndale" block party; executive director Messiah Equiano offers his reflections on the event.

"We worked with the 7th and 8th grade students of Lawndale Community Academy to produce the event — they assisted us in planning and executing, and the event was a tremendous success!"

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

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Overshadowed Summer

 Source: The Chicago Tribune

For too many in Chicago, the recognized start of summer, Memorial Day Weekend, brings concern rather than celebration.But organizations like The Institute for Nonviolence Chicago are not cowering in the face of challenge — the organization is poised to hold an all-day youth basketball tournament Saturday that aims to be "an oasis for young people." 

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

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Mission to Heal

Source: New York City, Office of the Mayor

Mental health professionals often challenge conventional understandings of violence, reframing the conversation using frameworks that account for PTSD, the impact of environmental racism and lack of access as factors that may cause, and perpetuate, harmful behaviors.

After helping to find Sisters Thrive, New York First Lady Chirlane McCray recently announced Brothers Thrive; both initiatives are aimed to promote mental health literacy in the black community. Mental Health First Aid is providing the training for these programs.

McCray's mental health wellness, support and outreach efforts are noteworthy, widely recognized as a first for major city.

This is a story about the Street Outreach, Support Services and Jobs strategies of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. 

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READI Chicago Program in the New York Times

In the New York Times, Tina Rosenberg writes about the READI Chicago Program to help young men caught up in criminal activity find legal work. It's run by Heartland Alliance and is one of the four core strategies to reduce gun violence funded by the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

Rosenberg, who founded Solutions Journalism Network, which reports on responses to social problems, writes:

The conventional wisdom is that a young man who is part of the gang life in a violent community, standing on a corner, perhaps selling drugs, does so out of choice. On the corner he makes money. He's respected and feared. A minimum-wage job picking up trash in the park? That's for chumps and losers.

That conventional wisdom might be wrong. The reasons the young man stays on the corner might be completely different from what we imagine. He might, after all, want that park job, and want to get off the corner, but not know how.

Baten Phillips's job is to show him how.

Rosenberg also wrote an earlier piece in the Times about Cure Violence, an ongoing effort to "interrupt" street violence. It's currently in 21 cities across America, including Chicago.

Read more.

This is a story about the Community Safety and Peace and Street Outreach, Support Services and Jobs strategies of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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Three bills that would make Illinois safer from gun violence

Source: The Chicago Sun-Times

As part of its "31 Bullets" series, the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board has highlighted three pieces of gun policy that are currently being legislated by the Illinois Assembly. They include:

  • An Illinois House hearing on a bipartisan bill that would allow family members and law enforcement officials to petition the courts to temporarily remove firearms from the homes of people who are a danger to themselves or others
  • A related bill in the Senate that would require that anyone who agrees to accept guns that have been removed from someone in distress sign an affidavit saying they would not return the guns without legal clearance
  • A bill to ban bump stocks and trigger cranks in Illinois has passed the Senate and is scheduled to be the subject of a committee hearing in the House


Read the full editorial, and watch the accompanying 31 Bullets campaign video.

This is a post related to the Gun Policy 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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