Hear from a variety of Chicagoans and former big city mayors Antonio Villaraigosa, Betsy Hodges, Michael Nutter, Mitch Landrieu, and Adrian Fenty share how they successfully lowered gun violence in their city.
Six youth media organizations worked with The Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities to help showcase the work of our 2018 grantees:
Many thanks to all of the young people and organization personnel who worked to produce these pieces!
Sustainable change of any kind requires meaningful, collaborative investments and partnerships between the public and private sectors. Members of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities are optimistic that the investments made over the last two years are beginning to show signs of helping to reduce gun violence and contributing to better relations between police and residents.
But philanthropic investments cannot be sustained at this level over the long term. Our hope is that after this infusion of early stage private sector and foundation funding and testing, over time the most promising, evidence-based solutions to reducing violence and transforming police-community relations could be replicated and scaled with an infusion of sustained public funding.
We see early stage funding as our contribution to a comprehensive, citywide violence reduction plan for Chicago.
Read our full message to Chicago's next mayor: A Critical Opportunity and Promising Solutions to Chicago's Gun Violence
Chicago's corporate sector has long played a role in supporting social service programs, arts and culture, and recreational opportunities in the city. But a new initiative by AT&T stands apart from many philanthropic efforts: theirs is designed to directly address the city's violence and high unemployment rate for people of color by focusing on 19 neighborhoods that are home to 28 percent of Chicago's population and 72 percent of homicides in 2017.
AT&T's Believe Chicago was created with employees, who called on their employer to pivot its giving toward job creation, neighborhood investment and employee volunteerism in the 19 prioritized neighborhoods – the same neighborhoods that community-building grants from the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities are being activated. The company is partnering with nonprofit organizations that include Heartland Alliance, the North Lawndale Employment Network and St. Sabina's Employment Resource Center. We salute AT&T and other corporate citizens in Chicago that are exploring the ways their enterprises can help create the conditions for safer, more peaceful communities.
Read more here:
The KUFI Club of Chicago - through 2018 Safe and Peaceful grantee the Love Foundation - celebrated its first Crowning Ceremony this summer. This rites-of-passage coronation served as an important benchmark to acknowledge the power that young people have to be leaders and anti-violence activists in the Roseland community. "Rather than looking at children as problems to be fixed in our communities, we see children as agents of change," says founder David Pruitt
Two Safe & Peaceful Chicago grantees —Major Adams Community Committee and West Humboldt Park Development Council — partnered with tens of other West Side organizations, block clubs and nonprofits to host a daylong festival at Union Park. Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. praised the collective for showing how redemption can come for making things better for the generations that follow. "The community recognizes that we believe in peace," he said.
Safe and Peaceful grantee Brothers Standing Together worked with the park district, alderman and scores of volunteers to have a day that "let the community be at peace."
Safe & Peaceful grantee A Work of Faith Ministries INC (AWOFINC) organized a broad community coalition for a South Shore block party that treated residents to a day of food, recreation, information and giving back.
Safe & Peaceful Chicago Grantee News Stories
Englewood Unites With Peace, Police & Barbecues
Truestar, July 26, 2018
Photo Essay: Performance Arts Camp Helps Kids Bring Peace to the West Side
The Triibe, July 31, 2018
One Man Brings Healthy Living to the South Side with S.O.U.L. Community Garden
The Triibe, August 9, 2018
More Safe & Peaceful Communities Grantees
Learn about the work of a few of our 2018 grantee organizations
40-year-old organization provides veteran leadership in the current climate
The last 12 months have brought some key legislative victories for advocates of handgun violence prevention — within the last year, The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV) has focused on advocating for bills that will reduce illegal firearms across the state, require state licensing for gun dealers, and keep guns away from those believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
According to ICHV campaign director Mark Walsh, the organization's efforts to educate the public and lawmakers, as well as advocate for policies aimed at reducing gun violence, have become even more imperative and invigorated.
One of those bills, the Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking Act (SB 337), should be on its way to Governor Rauner's desk after successfully passing through the House and Senate in May; the bill incorporates part of the Gun Dealer Licensing Act (SB 1657), a proposed bill (vetoed in April) requiring Illinois gun dealers to obtain both a federal and state license.
An additional bill signed into law, SB 3256, requires a 72-hour waiting period for all firearm purchases; the prior law required a 72-hour wait for handguns, while long guns, such as rifles, and assault weapons like the AR-15, required only a 24-hour wait. The 72-hour "cooling period" is expected to help prevent dangerous, impulsive decisions by the buyer and allow more time for background checks. Additionally, the Firearm Restraining Order (HB 2354), addresses violence around suicides, school shootings, and domestic abuse by empowering family members or law enforcement (individuals who are often the first to witness pertinent signs and warnings) to petition the court to seize all firearms for a six month period from those believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
"We've seen legislation like this adopted in other states," Walsh said. "Connecticut has had it in place for a few years, and they've seen a decrease in the number of suicides."
ICHV has also had success in its defensive efforts; the organization takes credit in helping to stymie State and National Rifle Association priority legislation during last winter's session of the Illinois General Assembly, including a bill to legalize silencers.
"It's a testament to the work we've been doing, educating legislators, and the public increasing its support of what we've been working on," Walsh says. "It's been a lot of hard work, not just from us and the coalition, but from the relentless and focused support from our House and Senate sponsors to get these bills passed."
"I've been working in this space for about 10 years and I've never seen this kind of legislative success," he added.
A significant challenge faced by gun violence prevention organizations is the lack of data on firearm violence. According to ICHV, nationally, about 30,000 people are killed yearly, and another 60,000 are shot and survive. Walsh says that in an area like Chicago, where there are strong pockets of gun violence, the statistical breakouts can be overwhelming; however, he is encouraged to see people and organizations — such as our Safe & Peaceful grantees — turn that reality into a sense of action.
"A lot of our policy work is based on what we think will be effective in reducing illegal firearms across the state," Walsh explains. "Many people realize legislation alone is not going to solve gun violence, but if we can keep these guns from getting in the hands of people who should not have access to them, we're saving lives, and that's a key thing to remember."
"To me, it's a public health crisis and it's important to remember that gun violence is more than just guns and bullets: It's people turning their heads to the socioeconomic impacts of gun violence. We tend to vilify whole communities due to high gun violence rates, but we have to ask 'why' and 'how' can we solve that — it's clear that it's by improving economic opportunities, improving educational services, and repairing communities, and that's not simple," Walsh adds.
This is a story about the Gun Policy strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.
Safe and Peaceful grantee The Terrell Bosley Anti-Violence Association hosts this annual basketball tournament for boys and girls of all ages who reside in underserved communities that are plagued by gun violence. They believe that the model of a basketball game teaches the importance of teamwork and allows participants to release stress through athletics.
The organization says its community outreach event served more than 250 families in the Chatham community, and it is growing annually because there are so many families in need.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This story is about the Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.
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.Street Outreach, Support Services and Jobs strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.
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.
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.
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.
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.